Just Sit There & Look Pretty

by adriennelindsay

Wheel of Fortune was on last night, as it unfortunately is every night, and Pat Sajak was doing his standard interviewing of the contenstants. He asked a woman a question about her children, & she happily explained that she had three kids: her athletic son (which she displayed with unmitigated pride), her musically inclined son (I noted that she said this with slight hesitation), and her beautiful daughter.

This made me angry. Angrier, indeed, than I usually am while watching Wheel of Fortune-and let me tell you, I really hate Wheel of Fortune. Once, a woman guessed that the answer to the category Johnny Cash song was “I Have the Wine,” instead of “I Walk the Line.”

What really struck a nerve was how, completely subconsciously, she assigned her boys identities based on their personalities and tastes, and assigned her daughter an identity based on her looks.

But I shouldn’t be surprised, because this is not news.

Nobody teases a man for not being married before thirty. Nobody sells men wrinkle cream or anti-aging supplements. Women are sold haircolor to get rid of those “pesky grey hairs,” while men are sold “Touch of Grey” which will literally give them a touch of grey in their hair to conjure up an image of sophistication and wisdom.

What the hell is that?

Why do women have an expiration date? Why does everything come back to the way we look? Why are we told to take it as a compliment if someone wolf-whistles or cat calls while we are walking down the street? (side note:  I am taking a moment to appreciate that at least these actions are associated with animals, because having been on the receiving end one too many times, I do feel like it is an animalistic behavior)

I know these are arguments that have been stated time and again, but that doesn’t make my concerns less valid. Even at the Oscar’s on Sunday, the men were introduced as “the very funny” or “the very talented,” while the women were introduced as “the beautiful” or “the lovely.”

I am curious where this “sit there and look pretty” mentality came from. Why is appearance such an essential part of a woman’s idendtity, at least here in America? And why are men not held to similar standards?

Look, I’m not saying I don’t love to dress up, and wear makeup, and feel pretty. That’s not the case. I take great pride in my appearance. I enjoy receiving compliments. I love fashion. But I don’t love it when that is the only part about me that people (read: men) seem to care about. I am so much more than what I appear to be on the outside.

If you really want to compliment me, don’t compliment my looks; compliment my brain.