By Patricia Rocha
I think I’m pretty. If that comes across as vain or superficial, then I think the problem is in the reader and not in my opinion, because all women should think they’re pretty. Every woman should be proud of their looks and bodies and all of the amazing differences between them.
What shouldn’t be happening, however, is that confidence in self to overshadow the other qualities of that woman.
As a student of journalism, I was recently listening to a woman reporter describe how a friend of hers has a tough job, that job being interviewing police officers. I understood immediately. It must be extremely difficult to get information for sensitive issues surrounding legalities, criminals, and ongoing investigations. I was proud to hear her say her female colleague was great at her job, but then shuddered immediately when she followed it by saying, “She’s pretty. That helps.”
Journalism, like many other writing-based jobs, has always been a boy’s club, but I truly believed it was beginning to change. So I was appalled to look around the conference room and see the other 4 women and 10 men give a laugh and nod their heads, as if that comment was perfectly acceptable.
That no matter how educated and talented or street smart a female journalist may be, being pretty will help.
Even if she’s kind, personable, and willing to give an unbiased ear, being pretty will help.
Strangers will not slam the door in her face when she’s asking uncomfortable questions, CEOs will not refuse to speak to her about sketchy financial matters and she will always get an invitation to return because being pretty will help.
Even if she’s capable of asking the right questions to get the most perfect direct quotes and even if she writes the most concise, Associated-Press-worthy article the world has ever seen, being pretty will help.
There’s nothing wrong with being pretty, or that thinking someone else is pretty. What’s damaging to our society is the belief that if it helps her because she’s pretty, it hurts other women who aren’t “as pretty.”
It sends the message that the woman who is just as (or more) educated, qualified and talented is screwed if she’s not as pretty as another woman. I honestly don’t blame the speaker for making the comment so easily because that idea is everywhere in our culture. Women once had to write under a man’s name in order to get credibility outside of a home and garden column.
Our media loves to point at a successful woman and make comments like, “I wonder who she slept with to get that job,” but this is not last century, and this pretty-beats-talented mentality does not need to evolve, it needs to go extinct.