Pretty Baby

Long before T.V became the glossy, million channeled marketing device that it is today – I loved it. Television was simple. Cartoons didn’t have a network, they had Saturday mornings. Television movies were an event (i.e. Thornbirds) and having a favorite show meant waiting all week for a new episode and actually watching it when it aired – commercials and all. As for me, I wouldn’t miss an episode of Dynasty, and I loved to watch the Miss America Pageant. Each year my family would gather together with bowls of popcorn and rootbeer floats to watch 52 pretty women parade, sing, dance, twirl, and give speeches all in hopes of winning a really big shiny tiara. It was fabulous. And not just because I had a knack for picking the winner. I really just liked watching pretty girls in big fancy dresses. I still do.

It seemed that Miss South Carolina or Miss Texas or some other southern state would always win. The bigger the hair and the more make-up you slathered on, the better your chances of winning. (I think women in Texas must look at everyday life as The Miss America Pageant because the amount of hairspray and Maybellene usage in that state baffles me.) Sure she had to have poise and grace. She had to be able to keep smiling while walking down stairs in a bathing suit, high heels and a sash while Regis Philbin sang at her. That can’t be easy. She also had to have a platform. If memory serves, all of the contestants had the same platform – education, community involvement, or helping “special” children. It always seemed that they had a little brother or sister with some issue or another and they wanted to use their face and bikini ready figure to call much needed attention to it. She’d get all misty eyed as she would say, “My little brother Timmy had cerebral palsey and as Miss America, I will help raise awareness and money to help him and other amazing, brave kids like him…” Yeah. Sure honey. It has nothing to do with the millions of dollars in scholarships or the television appearances.

And that’s fine. Really. I have absolutely NO problem with 20-something women trying to make their way in the world. And I don’t want to hear that it’s all about their face and figure. We don’t sit around chastising young women who want to become actresses, do we? That is an industry based fully (these days) on your appearance. So, I want to give these women a break. They are all educated, grown women.

Unlike a six year old.

A few days ago I watched this documentary called “Baby Beauty Queens” about the Little Miss UK contest. I was shocked. And not at the little girls. I was shocked at the mothers. One mom gave her SEVEN YEAR OLD child plastic surgery. One mother said that the lord gives us all talents, and her daughter’s talent is being pretty. Since when is your face a talent?

I liked to play dress-up and put on make-up when I was little. I think most little girls do. Mom would give us old clothes, or some sequined dresses bought at a yard sale, and we would put them on and play grown up lady at a party. It was harmless fun. There was never EVER an emphisis on being pretty. I never recall my mom ever telling me that the most important thing was my looks, or my hair or anything like that. And, I never recall it being forced on me. I never had to practice dress up or make-up. I never competed against other little girls for money I would never see.

This is what I don’t understand. We are raising a generation of girls who are told being pretty and liked is the most important thing – and then we get angry at them for seeking out attention. As a parent (if I were one, and if I ever become a mom please hold me to it) I would think we would know better. Isn’t it time we stop telling little girls lies like “Your hair is your crowning glory” or “Boys don’t make passes at girls who wear glasses”. Hair is just hair. It grows back. And there are about a million websites dedicated to “sexy” librarians in glasses. My point is – let’s leave the looks at the door. Maybe start telling little Susie how smart she is, rather than how pretty. Maybe we could make room for flaws. What is a seven year old girl supposed to think about herself when her mother tells her she is ugly?

Sure, we will always judge people on their looks – it’s human nature. But maybe, just maybe we can learn not to judge ourselves on our looks. There is that saying – It takes a village to raise a child. I gotta say, if my child is raised in a village that makes her face more important than her brain – we are SO moving!

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One thought on “Pretty Baby

  1. Good for your mom. For mine, being pretty was the gold ring I was expected to grab for. She was anorexic and bulemic, and went for big hair in a big way. Oh, and she was a Texan. I left Texas before I was 20 and have spent my whole life contradicting her gospel.

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