That’s a good question: Does physical appearance really matter?

There’s an interesting conversation going on here —> http://captainawkward.com/2012/11/20/397-pretty-should-be-optional/

Basically, the letter writer is looking for advice on dealing with family and friends who want her to dress “prettier.”

It got me thinking about how mainstream media and their audiences talk out of both sides of their mouth. Comments like that get a free pass, but appear in close proximity to admonitions to “be cool and carefree.”

Here’s the thing: you can’t have both. I guess there must be a small portion of the population who fits the “ideal physical appearance” label (don’t get me started, that’s the most subjective crap of all time) but I’ve never met anyone who meets both standards. And if I had to choose, I would take brainy and funny and kind any day over good looks.

I’m lucky though, I don’t have to choose. I’m not the dumbest rock in the pile and I’m average looking so it’s rarely an issue for me in one direction or another. No one’s flipping out over my slight beer belly or taking tabloid photos of my awesome looking toes. Now, for women average still sucks, because you can’t even be average and be happy, according to the conventional measurements of our culture (this is actually a problem for guys, too but those are both another conversation of their own).

Even I have to toe the line sometimes. Anyone who’s worked in a traditional office knows how this works. But just because this is the way it’s always been doesn’t mean it has to stay that way. I can see there are some positives to be had when discussing physical appearance, but mostly I don’t think it’s an indicator of someone’s humanity, their empathy/kindness/grace/sense of humor…of course I’m not against anyone dressing pretty, do whatever makes you happy, but do it because you choose to, not because you feel compelled to.

Unfortunately physical appearance matters, but we should all be working harder to get to a point where it doesn’t.

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5 thoughts on “That’s a good question: Does physical appearance really matter?”

  1. A fellow feminist and I talked about this very Captain Awkward yesterday. (Whenever I see that you’ve “Like”d a CA post it’s like running into a friend at the grocery store!)

    There are so many standards and double standards and traps when it comes to appearance, for everyone, not just women. And, funny enough, it was only when I was free to express my appearance however I wanted that I ended up becoming more feminine. I had to learn that it didn’t involve pink or stilettos or whatever and that “feminine” itself wasn’t a bad thing. Inventing myself? 😉

  2. I think that’s one of the great successes of feminism…..women and men are more able to make choices that reflect who they are.

    Of course we all have to hold our own feet to the fire. I’ve been around/comfortable with gay and lesbian culture for a long time but a few years ago I was a lot less understanding of transgender culture.

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