Pretty by Katie Makkai
“When I was just a little girl, I asked my mother, “What will I be? Will I be pretty? Will I be pretty? WILL I BE PRETTY?! What comes next? Oh right, will I be rich?” Which is almost pretty depending on where you shop. And the pretty question infects from conception, passing blood and breath into cells. The word hangs from our mothers’ hearts in a shrill fluorescent floodlight of worry.
“Will I be wanted? Worthy? Pretty?” But puberty left me this funhouse mirror dryad: teeth set at science fiction angles, crooked nose, face donkey-long and pockmarked where the hormones went finger-painting. My poor mother.
“How could this happen? You’ll have porcelain skin as soon as we can see a dermatologist. You sucked your thumb. That’s why your teeth look like that! You were hit in the face with a Frisbee when you were 6. Otherwise your nose would have been just fine!
“Don’t worry. We’ll get it all fixed!” She would say, grasping my face, twisting it this way and that, as if it were a cabbage she might buy.
But this is not about her. Not her fault. She, too, was raised to believe the greatest asset she could bestow upon her awkward little girl was a marketable facade. By 16, I was pickled with ointments, medications, peroxides. Teeth corralled into steel prongs. Laying in a hospital bed, face packed with gauze, cushioning the brand new nose the surgeon had carved.
Belly gorged on 2 pints of my own blood I had swallowed under anesthesia, and every convulsive twist of my gut like my body screaming at me from the inside out, “What did you let them do to you!”
All the while this never-ending chorus droning on and on, like the IV needle dripping liquid beauty into my blood. “Will I be pretty? Will I be pretty? Like my mother, unwrapping the gift wrap to reveal the bouquet of daughter her $10,000 bought her? Pretty? Pretty.”
And now, I have not seen my own face for 10 years. I have not seen my own face in 10 years, but this is not about me.
This is about the self-mutilating circus we have painted ourselves clowns in. About women who will prowl 30 stores in 6 malls to find the right cocktail dress, but haven’t a clue where to find fulfillment or how to wear joy, wandering through life shackled to a shopping bag, beneath the tyranny of those two pretty syllables.
About men wallowing on bar stools, drearily practicing attraction and everyone who will drift home tonight, crest-fallen because not enough strangers found you suitably fuckable.
This, this is about my own some-day daughter. When you approach me, already stung, stained with insecurity, begging, “Mom, will I be pretty? Will I be pretty?” I will wipe that question from your mouth like cheap lipstick and answer, “No! The word pretty is unworthy of everything you will be, and no child of mine will be contained in five letters.
“You will be pretty intelligent, pretty creative, pretty amazing. But you, will never be merely ‘pretty’.”
Some Idiot/How Sports Bras Work (by JennaMarbles)
Jenna Marbles did an excellent response to an article about Olympic boobs.
[NSFW for language and sheer awesome]
Obviously, there’s nothing wrong if you DO happen to be broad-shouldered & flat-chested, but this lady is MADE of awesome! And word-to-your-mother-fuck-yes about sports bras! Men just need to shut the hell up all day every day about everything/anything having to do with women’s fashion/appearance/bodies. Get it through your heads, men - YOUR. OPINION. IS. NOT. ESSENTIAL. TO. OUR. EXISTENCE. Nor should it be. Women shouldn’t have to dress/work out/alter themselves for the male gaze. Believe it or not, we do make decisions about our lives that have absolutely nothing to do with TURNING YOU ON. You may make all of YOUR life choices with your DICK in mind, and hey that’s just fine for you. But don’t expect US to make all OUR decisions with YOUR dick in mind, too.
So… this is coming from an unlikely place, but I read this article and just agreed with every little bit of it (even if it’s from back in 2006) and especially got excited when I came to these paragraphs. I need to carry them around and show them to every white person that tries to convince me that racism is dead.
“… [I]n what seems both cause and effect of cultural productions such as THE COSBY SHOW, polls show that most U.S. whites ‘no longer feel blacks are discriminated against in the schools, the job market and the courts’ (Brownstein Ml). … ”
“ … Four decades and more of struggle for civil rights have accomplished a tenuous change in public manners: Explicitly racist remarks are generally unacceptable socially. Yet the waning of blatant racism has in turn contributed to the absence in the media of evidence of continuing prejudice — privately articulated racism and the institutionalized oppression African Americans live with every day. Rarely acknowledged as integral to the social order, racism surfaces mostly as an object lesson from the past, or as exceptional disorder such as the blatant system of white supremacy in South Africa. With so many in the audience evidently hostile to public racism and yet unsympathetic to critiques of more subtle and pervasive discrimination, it makes good business sense to discourage mention of contemporary racism, pro or con. This became clear in 1990 when CBS suspended commentator Andy Rooney from his job on 60 MINUTES after Rooney was accused of making racist comments off the air, comments he denied. Such actions declare racism intolerable, even as racism threatens to return to the legitimacy of everyday conversation following the political reaction of the 1980s. For now, this absence enables whites to treat claims of discrimination by blacks as the special pleading of the undeserving. In defense of bigotry, European Americans can become empiricist to the bone. … ”
“ … As racism has changed, so must its critique. Modem racism’s denial of its own existence inoculates it against empirical challenge. Consequently, racist discourses must now be disinterred in contemporary texts and practices that pride themselves on being ‘colorblind’; analyzing absence becomes more crucial than ever. … ”
It’s a long article (these are only excerpts) but it’s really worth the read, both if you grew up as a fan of the Cosby Show AND if you have an interest in the role of race/racism in our society and the media. I’d say the really good stuff starts around paragraph 5, if you want to skip to it.
John Green: GAY is NOT an INSULT (x)
“I refuse to take part in anything that’s going to denigrate a people… especially me.”
- Morgan Freeman