I’ve written on this blog before, Gentle Reader, about the Curse of the Pretty Face. That is, how fat girls are told they have “such a pretty face” and that they should lose weight, seemingly in all cases to catch a boy. I was one such pretty face, told hundreds of times by older, seemingly well-meaning family members and friends of the family that I’m so pretty. Why don’t I lose weight? Don’t I want a boyfriend?
The problem with this is endless. It encourages heteronormativity, for one. What if I didn’t want a boyfriend, but a girlfriend? Or nofriend? Another problem is the trafficking in women that we see (HT Gayle Rubin). Women are expected to be traded from one male household to another, and this sort of cycle perpetuates it. Seeing women as just a legion of “pretty faces,” to be exchanged to men at some point in their lives, is presupposed by this statement.
But the biggest problem, of course, is the effect it had on me. On the hundreds of thousands of girls who heard/hear this phrase, “You have such a pretty face,” because that’s all I was. A pretty face with a fat body. And I was never “pretty.” I “had” a “pretty face.” Meaning, of course, that I couldn’t be “pretty” until I lost my weight. Until my body caught up with my face.