Read this piece called “The Death of Pretty” by Pat Archbold at the National Catholic Register. You’ve been warned; you will want to tear your hair and wail.
Archbold’s thesis goes like this: “Pretty” is the combination of aesthetic beauty and projected innocence. Women no longer aim for pretty, instead they aim for hot. Pretty women bring out the best in men (namely the desire to protect), and hot women bring out their basest instincts. A few choice quotes:
“As I said, pretty inspires men’s nobler instincts to protect and defend. Pretty is cherished. Hotness, on the other hand, is a commodity. Its value is temporary and must be used. It is a consumable.”
“Who can forget how pretty Olivia Newton John was at the beginning of Grease. Beautiful and innocent. But her desire to be desired leads her to throw away all that is valuable in herself in the vain hopes of getting the attention of a boy. In the process, she destroys her innocence and thus destroys the pretty. What we are left with is hotness.”
Let’s vomit all over that, shall we?
Dear Mr. Archbold,
Let’s begin where we share common ground. I, too, have noticed the trend away from “pretty” (as you so narrowly defined it) and towards a commercialized sexiness personified by Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian, and the like. I, too, think that teaching young women and girls to aim for sex appeal is damaging and unhealthy.
You believe that there is a dichotomy between hot girls and pretty girls, one that correlates to promiscuity and sexual purity. I believe there is another axis, one for which the highest values are agency, confidence, sexual satisfaction, and pleasure. I believe that this is the axis should teach women (and men) to aim for.
You believe that women on a pedestal with men as their protectors is an idealized state of affairs. I believe this does a disservice to us all; across the chasms that such an arrangement creates, we can’t see each other clearly, or communicate with each other honestly. Protection is something we offer to those that cannot help themselves. It is not something we offer to equals, unless the desire for protection is mutual and reciprocal. There is no place for equality on your spectrum.
You believe the opposite of innocence is promiscuity. I believe the opposite of innocence is wisdom, experience, and self-knowledge.
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