I was never one of the pretty girls. It’s a shocker, I know. I’ve never possessed the classically beautiful traits many of my more popular classmates did. I was relegated to the role of the intellectual serious girl. I could never be, by society’s standards, the pretty charming popular girl.
Like intellect, beauty is largely innate and genetic. Like intellect, you can cultivate beauty – applying makeup or getting lipo – but in the end, there’s only so much one can do to improve her lot.
I could entice boys if I wore more makeup. Maybe people would hang out with me more if I didn’t read books and wax poetic about theoretical constructs impacting societal growth.
But this isn’t a manifesto about the dichotomy in which women live – the constant battle to segregate young girls into the category of the beauty or the scholar and sanctioning them when they attempt to cross over from one station to another. I will save those observations for another time.
This is a manifesto – a moral call – to adults who still use beauty and prestige to ridicule one another long after the tassel of high school is moved.
In Tina Fey’s personal manifesto Mean Girls, Regina George represents this culture of bullying. Mean Girls strikes a chord with women of all ages. It’s easy to believe the lie that young girls evolve into mature, more compassionate women who leave the life of bullying and gatekeeping behind.
The gatekeepers — the Regina Georges of the world — persist despite inevitable maturity. They become soccer moms, managers, entrepreneurs, and board members. We envy the gatekeepers, hoping to catch a glimpse of the other side, all while maintaining our position as the other. We loathe them and emulate them at every turn.
Yet we women are the first to feign offense when men joke that women are catty. When is the last time you criticized someone for what they wore? Let me rephrase. When was the last time you attributed a value judgment based on how someone dressed? If she weren’t so lazy, she wouldn’t be so fat. If she wore more makeup, she might not end up a spinster. If she wore less makeup, she wouldn’t be such a slut.
We created this narrative. We continue to use it to our advantage. Narratives explain our existence. In our personal narrative, we are always the protagonist, the hero, the princess in need of rescuing. Who is not for us is against us. We must always find those who are not us to explain this narrative.
This needs to stop. We need to change this narrative. You cannot call yourself a feminist and hold women to unreasonable ideals. You cannot call yourself a feminist and close the gate to other women.