Tuesday, May 22, 2012

You'd Be a Lot Prettier If...

I read several women focused/feminist online forums, and on one recently, a woman shared that a man told her that she's be a lot prettier if she wasn't so heavily tattooed. I've heard this said about people before and I'm sure that many tattooed women have experienced this first hand.

Tattoos are an interesting thing. Long considered taboo, they are becoming a more and more commonplace form of self-expression. They are self histories. They pay homage. They are art. They are stories. They are conversation pieces.

As I only have two small ones myself, I don't experience any tattoo hate, but I am regularly asked what they mean. I like talking about them. They are a part of my body and adornments through which I have chosen to express myself. Several of my friends and coworkers have large, beautiful tattoos which they consider central to who they are. So I can only imagine how insulting it would be to have this very personal choice critiqued. In fact, it reminds me of another extremely common statement: "she'd be a lot prettier if she lost some weight."

All I'm saying is that I fail to see what we gain from our tendency to buy into a very narrow, limited notion of beauty. The more I think about it, the madder I get at just how many people it leaves out. And I think it's pretty obvious that reducing a woman's worth to her physical appearance is extremely problematic. Not only is it objectifying when it's done to you, but it can have a devastating effect on one's self esteem, when internalized. Especially given that even the "prettiest" models are so heavily photoshopped that they don't look like themselves.

Besides, things like self-expression and our bodies are deeply personal decisions. If you don't like the way a person looks--be it because she has too many tattoos or pounds for your taste--here's a novel thought: keep your opinions to yourself. Chances are she's not doing it for you anyway.

1 comment:

  1. Someone who would make that kind of "You'd be a lot more attractive if..." statement comes off as a clueless narcissist. To assume that what you are attracted to is what everyone should be & would be attracted to is extremely self-centered.


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