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How Important Is “Pretty”?

First Posted: July 21, 2015, 6:03 p.m. CST
Last Updated: July 21, 2015, 6:36 p.m. CST
Serena Williams emotional after winning her 6th Wimbledon title

How Important is “Pretty”?

Serena Williams, arguably one of the most talented athletes of her time, has just won her 6th Wimbledon (for those of you are not super familiar with tennis, like me, it’s a really big deal). Yet the conversation surrounding Williams has little to do with her athletic victories and everything to do with how she looks. To me, this seems very bizarre, I mean the lady is a professional athlete who’s successes include 21 Grand Slams (again for those of you who aren’t avid tennis followers, it’s a really big deal) and we’re talking about the way she looks in a dress? Some people have even gone as far as to say that she is less of a woman because of her athletic build. So apparently it’s not enough to excel in sports as a woman, but you must also do it while looking like Sleeping Beauty. Not to throw shade at the Disney Princesses, but is that all that women can aspire to be? Just a pretty princess?

Williams is not the only female athlete dealing with body shaming and the criticisms of their womanliness by the media, many are facing the same kind of scrutiny. In the 2012 Summer Olympics, Yuksel Aytug wrote an article called “Womanhood is dying at the Olympics” (if you’re really into sexism, it’s a great read) which criticized women for not looking feminine enough and suggested that the feminine-looking athletes, be awarded more points. So in between performing in outrageously competitive and vigorous events that you’ve trained your whole life for, if all you ladies could take 30-40 minutes to apply some primer, foundation, lipstick, lip liner, lipgloss, mascara, eyeliner and the classic “smoky eye” look, that would be great. Seriously?

As a society we need to stop the body shaming, the constant scrutiny, the endless unattainable expectations and instead, celebrate women as they are. Women are powerful, inspiring, determined, passionate, intelligent so why should we limit them to being just pretty?

By constantly criticizing female athlete’s appearances (and let’s be honest, every female in the spotlight deals with this scrutiny) we’re telling young girls that whatever they do, it’s not enough. Even if they become athletes, lawyers, doctors, engineers, it doesn’t matter if they aren’t pretty.

What would it look like if instead we as a society focused more on what a woman does, rather than how pretty she looks while she does it? Because a woman does not have to be just pretty to be a woman, she just needs to be her.

This article was written by Mackenzie Russell. Mackenzie is a feminist who prefers to be viewed more simply as an egalitarian. She grew up in Colorado where she obtained extensive management experience in the areas of hospitality and education. She is currently an undergraduate at Seattle Pacific University with an emphasis in Sociology.

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