Pretty is Dead; Long Live Pretty!

Once again I’ve got myself tangled in the interwebs with an article on Beauty.  Technically, this one is on Pretty, and more specifically, its demise.  If you haven’t seen it already, go check out “The Death of Pretty” by Pat Archbold of the National Catholic Register.  In a nutshell, the article says that Pretty is a combination of beauty and innocence, and women have given up projecting innocence. Archbold complains that girls don’t aspire to be pretty anymore; instead they try to be Hot, which requires that “they must view themselves in a certain way and consequently men view them differently as well”

I wonder if Pretty is gone BECAUSE of our ridiculously high expectations for beauty. We only see the ‘top 5%’ and even then they’re super modified. So guys are trained like Pavlov’s dog to respond best to what is presented as Beautiful. And women are trained to think they can get closer to beautiful if they BUY MORE STUFF. Advertising wins. Guys win. Honestly, the beautification stuff would be a lot more fun for women, too, if it weren’t so out of hand.

Pretty vs Hot

Perhaps I should graph this out on a chart, but it would seem the formula for Pretty vs Hot goes something like this:
Innocent+Beautiful = Pretty. But natural beauty is hard to attain (and impossible to maintain!)
Sexy+Beautiful = “Hot” even if it requires intensive modification.
Sexy-Beautiful = Gets the guys who can’t get the Hot girls but want a chance at propagating the species anyway.
Innocent-Beautiful = At least my mamma loves me. :-p

So, in this world where Beautiful = Nearly Impossible, of course we’re going to see a lot of girls shooting for Hot and settling for just plain Sexy. Or she can stay innocent and wait (with her biological clock ticking away) in hopes that someone will think she’s Beautiful enough to be pretty, too.

Changing Perception

We need to learn to recognize the real Beauty in ourselves and others. Cliché, I know, but bear with me:

Guys will tell you time and time again that physical attraction is a purely physical response that has nothing to do with a woman’s character — but how many guys are going to keep feeling physical attraction to a woman who treats him unacceptably?  Personally speaking, the physical characteristics I once considered irresistible in my ex are  practically repulsive now.  The guys I find myself most attracted to look NOTHING like him.  And it hasn’t always been that way.  Did my biology change or am I a product of my conditioning?

If I am somehow a product of my conditioning, wouldn’t that somehow imply that God could condition me to see Beauty through His eyes?

A guy I dated once gushed on our first date that he was surprised at how incredibly beautiful I was.  I don’t hear that often.  I knew I needed to lose weight.  We ended up talking about beauty and perception, and he told me of an “experiment” one Young Single Adult group conducted.  He told me about this a long time ago and I can’t remember all of the details, but if I recall correctly, they rated each other’s attractiveness (as well as their own, I presume), then re-rated that attractiveness after a hiatus from TV.  And what do you know?  These girls and guys were amazed at how much more attractive they found each other to be.

Of course being the nerdy sort I am, I’d love to see that as a more scientific study.  But I am fascinated by the idea that if we’ll stop spending so much time gawking at fantasies and more time living in the world of actual people, we might start to find some of the beauty God sees.  Maybe when we learn that REAL beauty is in the eyes of the Creator, we’ll find that Pretty is alive and well.

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