Thursday, 20 February 2014

Too Right, Pretty Fucking Hurts.

 
BeyoncĂ©’s feminist anthem Pretty Hurts is a relief to hear; it’s about time that someone in her position verbalised this message.  There is no point in her having all this power and not using it for good (as I’m sure she would agree).  She has always been behind songs that empower women, but this song really gets to the heart of the matter when it comes to the objectification of women in today’s society.  I have included the lyrics at the end of this post if you wish to read them for yourself but I would also highly recommend the song as the emotional message is obviously far more effective in this format.  If you have already heard the song I am sure you know all this already.  This post is about the thoughts I had when I was listening to the song one day in the car and it made me cry; I am pregnant so that is a definite factor in my emotional response but the point is that it perfectly summed up something I have always felt inside of me, as I’m sure many women have.  This is how music works a lot of the time and why we as human beings love it; this time I felt that there was more to be said on this topic.

The idea that ‘Pretty Hurts’ has multiple meanings in my eyes and I want to outline a couple of them.


Pretty hurts when you have to pluck, shave or wax sensitive areas of your body in order for them to be deemed acceptable for public consumption.  I’m not sure if any woman who chooses to ignore the rules about female body hair imposed by our society would be considered ‘pretty’.  It hurts when you put bleach on your scalp, have to squeeze ‘unsightly’ in-growing hairs or blemishes or poke yourself in the eye with various make-up products.  Now, I personally enjoy wearing make-up and only do so when I feel like it (for the most part), but how many other women out there do it because they don’t feel they look like ‘themselves’ without it?  Or don’t feel they would be attractive to men?  Or acceptable at work?  It hurts to have to get up earlier than our male counter-parts, losing vital sleep, just to make our image acceptable for the day ahead.  I have no experience with such things myself but I’m pretty sure anal bleaching, facial peels, Botox and other more extreme plastic surgery hurt too.  A lot.  To feel so unhappy with your appearance because it doesn’t look how we are told it should.  It hurts to feel your body is so unacceptable in its natural shape that we punish ourselves for eating some cake and berate ourselves when we don’t look how others do in a bodycon dress. 

But this is just the surface of how much pretty hurts.

Pretty hurts when you are considered to be ‘naturally’ attractive, beautiful or even stunning, with no cosmetic assistance.  It hurts when you are leered at, groped and harassed in the street.  Didn’t you know it was their right to do that to someone who they find attractive?  It’s a compliment, it’s what you should expect if you dress, or even if you look a certain way and you have a vagina.  Being considered pretty by a large amount of people because you have big eyes, a socially acceptable figure or long blonde hair hurts just as much as what other people have done to attain pretty in the first place.  It hurts when people won’t take you seriously in your career because they are too busy looking at your arse or are so overcome with sexual desire they can’t see you as a human being, they can only see you as a sexual object.  You were sexually harassed, or even raped because they wanted you.  They desired you as that sexual object and they couldn’t help but take what they wanted, despite what you wanted, because you are not quite a human being with feelings of your own.  You are an object to be taken.  Yes, being ‘pretty’ fucking hurts. 



Pretty also hurts when it is the word that haunts you, the one that is never used to describe you.  It is always your friend, your colleague, your sister, that is ‘pretty’, desirable and wanted.  If you’re lucky someone will tell you that “you look nice today” like it’s a surprise and a massive compliment because you have made an effort to put make-up on or wear something bright and flattering, but no-one will ever swoon over you.  They won’t all look when you walk into a room.  You are not naturally socially-acceptably beautiful, you have a big nose, no tits, a fat arse.  Your hair won’t grow all over your head, but it sure as hell wants to populate your chin.  You are a ‘paper-bag job’, a whale, the pity fuck.  ‘Pretty’ hurts when it is something you will never obtain because you don’t match up to those standards that the world you live in has set up for women.  No matter what you do you won’t emulate anyone’s icon, be anyone’s fantasy, be on anyone’s ‘list’.  If you are lucky you will meet someone who loves you because of who you are, but you will still be considered invisible and worthless in society.

Clearly I don’t think these things mean shit because we all know that being yourself, being comfortable with who you are naturally, and spending time with people who love you as just that is more important than anything.  But these ideas are all there, all the time, haunting us as women who move in the public sphere; and they are hard to ignore.  Especially when you are young and these things rule your world; being a teenager is tough and this is when a large part of our self-image is formed.

We need to change the way that we see ourselves and the way that we judge each other.  We need to teach our children to do the same.  The less we objectify women in this world, the less ‘pretty’ will hurt.



"Pretty Hurts"

Mama said, "You're a pretty girl.
What's in your head, it doesn't matter
Brush your hair, fix your teeth.
What you wear is all that matters."

Just another stage, pageant the pain away
This time I'm gonna take the crown
Without falling down, down, down

Pretty hurts, we shine the light on whatever's worst
Perfection is a disease of a nation, pretty hurts, pretty hurts
Pretty hurts, we shine the light on whatever's worst
We try to fix something but you can't fix what you can't see
It's the soul that needs the surgery

Blonder hair, flat chest
TV says, "Bigger is better."
South beach, sugar free
Vogue says, "Thinner is better."

Just another stage, pageant the pain away
This time I'm gonna take the crown
Without falling down, down, down

Pretty hurts, we shine the light on whatever's worst
Perfection is a disease of a nation, pretty hurts, pretty hurts (pretty hurts)
Pretty hurts (pretty hurts), we shine the light on whatever's worst
We try to fix something but you can't fix what you can't see
It's the soul that needs the surgery

Ain't got no doctor or pill that can take the pain away
The pain's inside and nobody frees you from your body
It's the soul, it's the soul that needs surgery
It's my soul that needs surgery
Plastic smiles and denial can only take you so far
Then you break when the fake facade leaves you in the dark
You left with shattered mirrors and the shards of a beautiful past

Pretty hurts, we shine the light on whatever's worst (pretty hurts)
Perfection is a disease of a nation, pretty hurts, pretty hurts
Pretty hurts, we shine the light on whatever's worst
We try to fix something but you can't fix what you can't see
It's the soul that needs the surgery

When you're alone all by yourself (pretty hurts, pretty hurts)
And you're lying in your bed (pretty hurts, pretty hurts)
Reflection stares right into you (pretty hurts, pretty hurts)
Are you happy with yourself? (pretty hurts, pretty hurts)

You stripped away the masquerade (pretty hurts, pretty hurts)
The illusion has been shed (pretty hurts, pretty hurts)
Are you happy with yourself? (pretty hurts, pretty hurts)
Are you happy with yourself? (pretty hurts, pretty hurts)

2 comments:

  1. Hi there! This is a great post, thanks for writing! You commented on my piece on fat in film on the F Word and I wasn't sure how to get hold of you, you can visit the blog I run here http://www.thehussingtonpost.blogspot.co.uk/ - there are email/twitter details there if you want to get in touch :)
    - Lily

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    1. Thanks Lily, sorry have been uber rubbish with this blog malarky of late and am still to finish my post that I wanted to mention you in. I will let you know when it is up and if I need to ask you anything... Really appreciate you finding me; starting something like this can be so daunting but any responses I've had so far have been really positive and encouraging.
      Danielle

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