Life of Liz

“pretty. . .

In Authentic Life, Out of the Comfort Zone, Wisdom on April 23, 2013 at 9:22 am


When I first heard Katie Makkai’s slam poetry piece ‘Pretty’ (I am not posting it here – you can easily google it) I was conflicted.  But then … no I’m actually not.

I can agree that Katie Makkai’s piece succeeds in showing her passion about a topic.  I’ll give her points for soliciting an emotional response from her audience, which is what slam poetry is supposed to do.  But I disagree with her premise and here is why.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with teaching my daughters how to apply makeup and style their hair, nor do I think there is anything wrong in helping them choose clothing that is flattering to their bodies.  I don’t think there is anything wrong with encouraging them to maintain their bodies.  I do the same for myself, because as a woman I like to feel pretty.  There, I said it.  I like to feel pretty and I don’t think there is anything wrong with letting (encouraging!) my daughters to feel pretty.  Isn’t feeling pretty one of the perks of our sex?

Is there more to it?  Of course!  And it’s my job to make sure they understand that while it may be the outward that first attracts a man’s attention, it will be what she has to share on the inside that will hold his attention. mom

A mother’s job is to show our daughters how to be a beautifullydecorated gift that is filled with smiles, laughter and happiness inside.  And coincidentally, my daughters have never asked “when I grow up, will I be pretty?” because they’ve been called pretty since birth.

Growing up I never once heard my mom mention her weight or try out a new diet.  We ate a variety of food and had a typically stocked pantry that often included Twinkies or a bag of chips.  I remember the day distinctly when I first compared myself to a magazine photo.  I was a senior in high school.  My bestie at the time made the comment “what I wouldn’t give to have her flat stomach” or some similar version in reference to the model.  Huh?  I tell you the truth, it had never occurred to me to compare myself to the advertisement.  My mom, who was comfortable with her own body, was a stronger influence on my own self image than the borage of messages that Katie Makkai’s poem’s hurls at the listener. Let me repeat, my body image was largely shaped by my mother.


I wonder how Katie Makkai’s daughter is going to feel someday

when all the other little girls are allowed to experience   pretty pretty princess parties

but she is not allowed to attend.  Will her mother’s poem actually solicit

a reverse affect for her daughter?  Instead of saying

“you are more than this one word” will her daughter instead believe “she must really think

I am ugly since she won’t even let me attempt to be pretty”.

And just to be clear, I believe the most probable path to happiness and true fulfillment is for my daughters to be wives and mothers.  To accomplish that task they will need to do the following:

  1. Attract the attention of a man
  2. Have something nice to say
  3. The rest is up to them!                    cute

Sorry Miss Makkai- it’s an old saying,

but you have to get your foot in the door before you can seal the deal! 

And while I too hope my daughters will be pretty intelligent, pretty creative, and pretty amazing…

they will also go on to be pretty fulfilled as a wives and mothers…with pretty kids, by the way.

  1. Pretty is an accident of birth. I think men and women should define themselves as more than that. Your argument about pretty parties is not valid. There is nothing wrong with Princess parties etc as long as they are dressing up in character, rather than defining their worth. Beautifully decorated gift? What will you do If your child stops being pretty? How will they catch a man? After all, it’s your opinion that the package attracts the man first. What will you do if your daughter decides she is not pretty enough and develops anorexia, or puts on weight due to depression?

    It’s all false. Men are conditioned to find the pretty girls, our mothers set us up from the start. Lets try Kate’s way. Both men and women. There are so many awesome men and women who are not pretty, and no one sees them. Lets try leaving these limiting beliefs and take to the sky.

  2. I strongly disagree with your opinion. I will *never* desire to be a means for a man’s happiness, and neither will I desire a man to be a means for mine. There is a wide world out there, full of knowledge and art and wonder. To be pretty is fortunate to most, to be married is fortunate to some, but neither are sufficient nor necessary paths to happiness and fulfilment.

  3. “A mother’s job is to show our daughters how to be a beautifully decorated gift that is filled with smiles, laughter and happiness inside.” A beautifully decorated gift? GIFT? Is that what a woman is? Wow.

    Essentially you are saying a woman’s value is in a man finding her attractive so that she can become a wife and a mother. Many women make significant contributions to others and society without ever being married or having children (Mother Theresa for one…) Society preaches the gospel of being pretty to little girls as if it will bring them fulfillment (the message of the poem) but pretty women are no happier than the rest of us, nor do they suffer less divorce, infidelity, depression, etc. Hopefully, when your older, and men don’t “see” you anymore because your looks have faded, you will appreciate the shallowness of what you stated here, and maybe, just maybe, you will realize you harmed your daughter more than helped her (harsh I know, but please think about it) by instilling in her the belief that being pretty would bring her love and fulfillment.

    That said, I applaud your honesty for saying what a lot of people think but would be afraid to say. To each their own, after all.

  4. i think you’re missing the point – your aim in life could be anything…astrophysics, philosophy, medicine – at end, it shouldn’t matter how you looked doing that – and you certainly shouldn’t feel like you have to live up to western beauty standards to live a meaningful life. besides, “pretty” is subjective – by holding ‘pretty pink princess parties’, you’re just buying in to the idea that pretty is one thing. that it’s with makeup. that it’s with your hair done. that you have to be slim (or whatever, those are just examples). by telling girls they don’t have to be pretty, you’re not saying they don’t have to feel like they look good, but that what looks good can be up to them.

  5. I will never understand why there is so much anger and resentment toward the word pretty. There is nothing wrong with being pretty, liking to feel pretty, striving for pretty.

    “A mother’s job is to show our daughters how to be a beautifully decorated gift that is filled with smiles, laughter and happiness inside.” ~This one sentence contains so much wisdom. And we see how pretty dies when mothers tell their daughters that their looks do not matter, or that college and their subsequent career should be their number one priority, instead of finding someone who makes them happy whom they can share their lives with.

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