When I became interested in feminism, one of the things I found hardest was that remarking on appearances is bad.
Of course, not everyone believes this, but still. It was a very novel thought and it’s still weird, to be honest.
Most people are sensible enough to not go around and insult other because of how they look. We might secretly laugh at an old lady with purple hair, but we wouldn’t ever say it to her face.
(Or most, wouldn’t, at least.)
Except for the magazines and newspapers and online forums.
“Lady Gaga’s fat!”
“What has Katie Holmes done with her hair?”
“The worst dressed at the Cannes Film festival!”
Why is that acceptable?
Remember that old proverb: “if you haven’t got anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”
But compliments, nice things, they are a different matter, right?
But if I tell my friend “Oh your hair looks so nice today!” doesn’t that imply that her hair doesn’t look good? And basically, what I’m doing is passing judgement on someone else’s looks. I’m rating her.
What right do I really have to comment on how someone else looks? Don’t I value my friends for a lot of other things than how they look? In fact, that’s the least important thing in a friendship, right? But we so really give each others real compliments.
“Thank you for being such a good listener.”
“You know what, you’re great at PowerPoint presentations.”
“You write so well!”
Instead, we talk about looks, as if they were the essential thing. And it’s almost always aimed at women.
But it’s so ingrained and it’s so deeply, too. That the nicest thing you can tell a woman is that she’s beautiful.
It’s going a step beyond “everyone is beautiful no matter what they look like” and asking: “why is it important that everyone be beautiful?”