Reclaiming the Word Pretty

Working in a male penitentiary,  I get gawked at and whistled at a lot.  It has gotten to the point that I hate the sound of whistling.  If I hear it and I instantly get angry.  Those simple two notes tell a girl that you do not care about anything about her besides that you like looking at her.  How is that ok?  I once yelled at a room full of inmates for whistling at me, and a couple of them actually looked scared of me.  Or so I thought, until I left and one stubborn inmate started barking at me.  But since then, not one inmate from that unit has whistled at me.  But my point is that it is hard being a woman in today’s society.  Who we are is not measured by how intelligent we as women are, how capable we are, how loving and loved we are, or our ability to be anything more than a pretty thing to be looked at.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   “This is about women who will prowl 30 stores and 6 malls to find the right cocktail dress, but have no clue where to find fulfillment or how to wear joy. This is about my own someday daughter, when you approach me already stung stained with insecurity, begging mom 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.  No child of mine will be contained in those five letters.  You will be pretty intelligent, pretty creative, pretty amazing, but you will never be merely pretty.'” -Katie Makkai
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             We have become a culture that is obsessed with appearance.  Our entire society broadcasts this lie to us that to have worth, you have to be pretty.  Buy this product and have silky skin that will never wrinkle, use this conditioner to have long frizz free hair, make sure you whiten your teeth after drinking all the coffee, wear the right clothes but don’t you ever repeat outfits.  We have such high expectations for what women have to look like that is no wonder we wrap and warp our identity on who well we meet this standard.  But the thing that no one tells you is that being “pretty” is not something you can buy.  No one talks about how how until you learn to value yourself beyond without all of the glitz, you will never feel truly pretty with the glitz.  But can we really blame ourselves for believing this? What I mean, is that the message has been broadcast to us all throughout the awkward insecure years of our youth.  I am not saying it isn’t important for young girls to know that they are beautiful, but we have to be careful that we aren’t sending them the message that being beautiful is the only thing that is important.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 I’m in the middle reading Donald Miller’s book Searching for God Knows What, and out of no where he starts talking about Adam and Eve.  Miller talked about how Adam had between 10 and 100 million different animal species to name before he met Eve.  We just kind of assume that Adam spent a day or two making the animals and the boom there was Eve.  But in reality it would have taken him a hundred years to name everything.  Adam was lonely for a hundred before Eve came along.  “I think it was smart of God because today, now that there are women all around and a guy can go on the Internet and see them naked anytime he wants, the whole species has been devalued.  If I were a girl in America, I would be a feminist for sure. I read recently where one out of every four women, by the time they reach thirty, are sexually harassed, molested, or raped.  And then I thought about how very beautiful it was the God made Adam work for so long, because there was no way, after a hundred years of being along, looking for somebody whom you could connect with in your soul, that you would take advantage of a woman once you met one.  She would be the most precious creation in all the world.  Adam was seeing a person who was like him, only more beautiful, and smarter in the ways of love and encouragement, and more deliberate in the ways of relationships” – Donald Miller.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Needless to say, I respected Donald Miller a lot more after reading that.  I have been very blessed to have a father, many brothers, and even more guy friends who care for me and love me for who I am.  But I wish that every girl could have someone like Donald Miller come along and tell why they are precious and how they need to never let anyone take that away from them.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Please don’t think this is a blog about how awful I think men are.  Women are just as responsible, because let’s be honest we want guys to like us.  And somewhere along the line we got it in our head that the only way a guy will like us is if we are pretty.   Isn’t about time that we as women decide to take back our right to be valued above our appearance?  Isn’t about time that we start teaching our daughters not how to put on makeup, but how to believe in their dreams and their abilities?  Isn’t it time that we taught our sons that girls are a precious gift God has given them, and that girls need to be valued for who they are?  Maybe we as women need to stop spending so much time in front of a mirror obsessing on whether or not we are pretty enough.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes.  Rather, it should be that or your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” 1 Peter 3:2-4
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