Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Remember: It Is Better to Look Good Than to Feel Good

Whole thing, read, right now, you know the drill. But I'm not kidding:

From a feminist point of view, I think that most women can fake it pretty well. I know exactly ONE person (and I’m not married to him*) who has ever caught on that I was having a struggle when I wasn’t deliberately revealing that information. It’s terribly damaging to women that we are so conscripted by a system that insists we keep up appearances. It forces us into a sort of coy mental health minuet that delays necessary assistance, often until it’s far too late.

There are certain culturally agreed-upon behaviors that women must engage in, not to make themselves feel better, but to make everyone else feel better. I have always gotten up and gotten dressed. I never go without make-up. If I did, the signal I would be sending is that I am so depressed, I have actually stopped caring if I am sexually attractive.

THEN the system takes notice.

I think the only thing I'd add is that it's even worse on other class and race levels--I can't imagine what someone who needs help, but knows that asking for that help might bring the full force of ICE down on not just her own head but the heads of others close to her, must feel like in this broken system. The point, however, is that this system fails all of us in a million different (but preventable) ways, and then it distracts us from that point with its unceasing broadcast of the not-so-cleverly-coded message that all would be well if we would Just Try Harder.

Now add on the backwards idea that if we'd just fix the outside, the inside would magically realign to match the outside, and there you have it: A proven recipe for disaster. And this happens again and again, even though if there's one thing disasters seldom are, it's pretty.

Awesome stuff, Genni. Thank you for putting it out there.


gennimcmahon said...


The whole time I was writing that, I was thinking of that Melissa Etheridge song "Come To My Window" where Juliette Lewis is so sexy with her slit wrists....

How fucking weird is that? That's pretty suicide, folks, exhibit A.

alto said...

I'm finding more and more that the people I now view as attractive physically are more often than not spectacularly beautiful on the inside. and I don't mean that in a glib, sentimental form such as "she was really ugly but since I got to know her she's not that bad". No, I mean that there is a comfort, a certain carriage and an ease of form that a person who is aligned with things that are just often possesses. If that makes any sense at all. :)

Kenneth Walsh said...

The sentiment was played out classically in the scene from the film adaptation of "Less Than Zero" where Clay (Andrew McCarthy) tells Blair (Jami Gertz) that she does not look happy, and her response is, "But do I look good?!"

Are there any life lessons I didn't learn from members of the Brat Pack?