Stop Calling Me Pretty

We can all remember that one girl in school growing up who was always told by teachers, family, peers, and strangers how pretty she was. We all looked at that girl and wanted to try the best we could to get the same kind of praise as she did. At such a young age we can all remember the immense pressure on our backs for yearning to be called “pretty”  from others. Growing up into adulthood, it is incredibly hard for women to feel good about their own bodies because society has seemed to continue to sexualize and center a lot of compliments for women around our looks. In fact, statistics from a Dove Campaign stated that “7 in 10 girls believe they are not good enough or do not measure up in some way, including their looks, performance in school and relationships with family and friends”. So why to this day do we always tend to call women “pretty” first rather than strong, confident, smart, observant or motivated? Why when we first see one of our female friends do we immediately comment on their appearance? I mean we all have done it, “You look cute today, you look so skinny, your hair looks so nice, wow you’re so perfect!”, these phrases have hit all women’s lips in passing conversations. But why do we do this? Well as said previously, it’s because it’s been a dialogue we have been told since we were young.

This idea of being “pretty” as well as appearing a certain way that is “pleasurable” to society has been ingrained in our head since the early years of our adolescent development. This is due to various different reasons but at the moment let’s focus on one subject, the clothes we wore to school. Girls have been told since a young age that our looks are more important than our brains. An example of how you ask? Well, let’s start with one all girls know too well to be true, dress code in schools. We were told by our administrators that if we dressed a certain way then we were deemed a distraction to the learning environment in the classroom. Who knew our shoulders and knees were so striking? But in all realness, this kind of thinking immediately made our bodies sexualized and objectified because it was labeled as an “issue”. Therefore this toxic message expressed that boys education were more important than females. That if we wanted to learn we needed to put this pressure on ourselves to always look a certain way in order to be deemed “acceptable” in a learning environment. In other words, this atmosphere translates to women always having to achieve a rigid amount of standards to thrive which sparks the drive to compete. We then began the cycle of relentlessly competing to be “pretty” and even more harmful, to be “perfect”.

So as women why do we compete to be better knowing that these rules pushed upon all of us are messed up? Well, society has promoted this comparison culture for years by creating artificial ways to achieve these standards with things such as plastic surgery, photo shop and fad diet plans. While also pairing these things with the idolization of a small percentage of women within the population as “worthy of praise”. So with this never-ending cycle, that we have become so accustomed to, is there anything we can do to fix this? The answer is absolute because the obvious truth is, is that we ARE society, we have the power to change the dialogue.

Does it take a lot of women coming together to put in a lot of work and time, of course it will. But it is imperative that we build a world for future generations where girls are empowered from a young age not to fight to be deemed “pretty” but to be smarter, bolder and competitive in a healthy way. And this dialogue needs to start with all the women here on this Earth, right now! We need to shift the constant beauty standard we are trying to achieve instead to a fight to see how much we can change the world with the gifts and passions we have on the inside.

Now, I am not saying that we should never give compliments and validation about women’s appearance because balance is key! But what I am saying is that unfortunately for too long the dialogue with women has been so overly dominated by the topic of looks that we forget that the thing we constantly claw for is unobtainable. I mean there is no stopping the fact that we are all going to be wrinkly and rolly one day, which is the beauty of life!

So we shouldn't put the thing we feel most proud of or worthy because of on something that we were born with when our potential in life could be something that in which we create impacts others lives in ways that will transcend us! What we should focus on are the things that will never go away and better yet, develop as we age! Our brains, our talents, our communication skills and understanding the power of our own voice. If we all shift our thinking to women helping women succeed beyond face value we’ll make a new generation of females that will epitomize what it means to be an unstoppable force.