Home > Don't make me hurt you, pissed off and totally ranty, smart is sexy > Smart is Sexy: Stop Trying to Make Girls Dumb

Smart is Sexy: Stop Trying to Make Girls Dumb

 

I’ll be the first to admit I am a geek. I own more books than some libraries. If my parents didn’t have a large attic, I’m sure I’d be stuffing books in the linen closet. I did well in college; I had a good GPA. I am well-educated. I try my best to value intelligence before appearance. When I wrote a different blog, a while back, I did not post a picture. In fact, when I began this blog, I did not post a picture.

I wanted to words to speak for themselves. Of course, a lot of people surmised (cleverly) that I hid my face because I was not pretty. I can’t tell you how many messages I got insisting that was the reason I never showed my face. It made me laugh, because I had nothing to prove. I’m not vain. I’m not egotistical. I am myself. My parents raised me well. I have extensive knowledge of everything from The Honeymooners to Jean-Paul Sartre. I’m a weird hodgepodge person in that respect, but I like to think it makes me well-rounded.

With that in mind, here are three things that piss me off about our current culture.

  1. The fact that there is a freakin’ tv show called Toddlers and Tiaras. I know that pageant moms exist. I know that there are six year old wearing more makeup than I do, whose mothers shove Vaseline on their teeth so they can smile more easily. I get it. But it makes my blood boil. Apparently, in a recent episode a mother dressed up her THREE year old daughter as Julia Roberts’ hooker character in Pretty Woman. I’m not a parent, but I’m pretty sure that no three year old she be charging 20 bucks for directions. Or, you know, know what the hell a hooker is. This is not, as her mother claimed, “tasteful.”
  2. The insane fashion trends that promote the idea that girls should not like school. JC Penny had a shirt for sale (“I’m too pretty to do my homework, so my brother has to do it for me”) that has since been removed, but the fact that it exists? Unacceptable. Forever 21 seems to have sold, or is currently selling, an entire line of Girls are Idiots t-shirts. Behold a sampling here. This is insane. First of all, intelligence isn’t gender-specific. Second of all, being smart IS hot. And being smart and hot is not mutually exclusive.
  3. I blogged about this book, before, but I still can’t believe it exists. This is a book that is designed to help a mother explain her plastic surgery to her child. It is called My Beautiful Mommy. Process that for a second. Now, since most of you didn’t read my old blog, here is my response from when that book first came out, in 2009…

I don’t have anything against plastic surgery.  At this point, I’d never consider it.  I like the way I look.  And I wouldn’t want to look like anyone but myself.  Unless we are talking about Halloween, in which case, I’d like to look like Jem from Jem and the Holograms.  No, seriously.  Pink hair, star earrings, miniskirt, and all that 80s jazz.  But I digress.

I think that everyone has a right to plastic surgery.  But I have to question the necessity for this book.  While I’ve known parents to get plastic surgery–a breast lift, for instance, after having three kids–I wonder what this book says to America’s youth.

First, if you need a BOOK to explain to your own kid why you are getting plastic surgery, you scare me.  Why?  You’re probably the same person who tells your kid that where babies come from, via informational pamphlets.  Or a very awkward, slightly vague, “talk.”  But, chin up–you’re one step above the people who propagate that whole Stork lie.  And yes, they actually do exist.  But the truth is, if you can’t justify/explain your own surgery to your child, chances are, you are embarrassed about it.  And you’re probably out of touch with your own children. 

My second issue is the title, My Beautiful Mommy.  It seems to imply that Mommy’s only beautiful is she gets bigger breasts (which the Dr. fails to address/explain in the text of the book, but he shows in the pictures.  He claims that might be too difficult for children to understand), has a perfectly flat stomach, and a new nose.  Specifically, in the words of the book, the nose job will make Mommy look “not just different, my dear — prettier!”  I can’t help but remember a certain scene from Little Red Riding Hood, and this just sounds a little too much like the Big Bad Wolf.  What parent addresses their 4-7 year old kid as “my dear?”  That aside–is this really what we want to teach America’s youth?  That beauty is in the gleam of a scalpel?  That perfection, or perceived perfection, is that only way that woman can be valued? 

Yes, I know that we live in an image-driven society.  And millions of women–parents and singles–get elective plastic surgery.  But this is insane.  Like it or not, this is a colorful bedtime story designed to explain to kids why Mom’s going to look different.  Beautiful.  As opposed to, you know, what she was before the surgery.  (What happens, though, when your daughter wants to emulate you?  Or when your son wants to have a nose just like his “Beautiful Mommy?”)  I’m not trying to criticize anyone who wants a tummy tuck, but to couch this explanation in these terms, using a glamorized cartoon, is crazy.  It’s The Twilight Zone meets Stepford Wives.  And I’m fairly sure that Dr. Seuss just rolled over in his grave.  Move over Green Eggs and Ham–Mommy needs a new nose!

I can’t help but wonder what’s next.  The possibilities are endless, as frightening as that may be. Observe: 

  • My Handsome Dad: Daddy Gets Pectoral Implants
  • Why Does Mommy Look Like Joan Rivers: What to do When Your Child Doesn’t Recognize You Anymore 
  • Mommy Looks Like J-Lo: My Beautiful Mommy’s New Behind
  • Daddy’s New Hair: How to Explain Where Your Chest Hair Went
  • Botox Blues: Why Mommy Can’t Move Her Face

Scary, huh?

Call me crazy, but this is not the way our society should be going. Because smart is a good thing. Being pretty is good, too. But these two things are not ships that pass in the night (sing it, Frank!). They are also not equally important. Yes, being pretty can open more doors, but that doesn’t guarantee staying power (unless, unfortunately, you are a Hilton or a Kardashian – don’t EVEN get me started).

 

Parents shouldn’t be spackling their daughter’s face with enough makeup that Mimi from Drew Carey would blanch. Algebra shouldn’t be feared based on GENDER (I often claim that math is the devil’s arithmetic, but I still learned it) and getting an F is never fabulous. We cannot foster a culture of vapid, math-hating girls.

Where is Dr. Who when you need him? (What? I like sci-fi, too. SHUT UP.)

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  1. September 14, 2011 at 10:39 am

    I am so tired of beauty and intelligence being considered mutually exclusive. When I was growing up, outside my home, it seemed that people pushed this idea. Intelligence is beautiful; intelligence is hot; intelligence is unbelievably sexy. I have been known to hang on every word of someone smart, wiping the drool from my lip as someone rambles on about iambic pentameter, and I am happy to say that.

    What I have found disheartening is the phrase “the smart one”? Apparently, a girl can’t be smart AND beautiful, and the implication is that smart means you should be housed in a belltower somewhere. The next time I get all dolled up and introduce myself as “Dr.” I’ll laugh my adorable little nerdy butt right off. 🙂

    • Ali
      September 17, 2011 at 8:28 am

      Rachel, Iambic pentameter! Be still my heart! *grin* Seriously, smart and beautiful can go hand-in-hand, damn it! And you, of course, should know that, Dr! 🙂 Thank you for such a great comment; I’m really glad that you read this.

  2. September 14, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    I’m moved to comment because for all of the 36 years of her adult life, my mother was a closeted geek-girl, herself raised by a woman whose story colors my own perception about this stuff.

    Many of my thoughts wander into GYOB Land, and my blog (as such) is currently sitting in a heap of tiny technical difficulties all over the floor. So I’ll keep it sorta short:

    Right in line behind gender is sexuality, and I’m sure that playing stupid often pays off for men, too… but that does nothing to address your point that far too often smarts and attractiveness in women are framed as being mutually exclusive.

    If I reason it out:

    An apparent lack of critical thinking signals sexual attractiveness and/or availability (i.e., “easy”), which in turn offers the path of least resistance to wealth (regardless of who earns or possesses it, as long as the outwardly stupid actor has extensive access to it). Applied to straight men, that path of least resistance leads to the woman’s control of the household and the boundaries (or at least the shelf life) attached to a relationship. Either way, the terms of an exchange are being signalled.

    Meanwhile, genuinely smart people are picky beyond belief, and the farthest from “easy” imaginable. Paul Graham’s thoughts about the whys and wherefores of this issue – especially with respect to the opportunity costs of attractiveness and popularity – make a big chunk of that point for me.

    When I add it all up, I lurch to the conclusion that in order to benefit from relationships, smart people need to accept one of two responsibilities: either they need to be entirely sure of themselves, or they often need to think for two people on a regular basis.

    Both outcomes require a lot of hard work. Next to those, wooing, seduction, and outward stupidity are easy once one has learned how to pull them off.

    …And I can’t think of a way to talk down the mammal-brain about this problem by way of an argument that doesn’t lead down a slippery slope to dystopia. Sigh.

    • Ali
      September 17, 2011 at 8:27 am

      Hi! Thank you so much for taking the time to write out such a thoughtful comment. I really appreciate that. There are two main points to my post. The first is short: that being smart and sexy isn’t mutually exclusive. The second is to speak out against the tendency to oversexualize children — and specifically, what this kind of thing does to children, namely girls. When I was a kid, my parents encouraged me to be smart. No one told me that I couldn’t do something, or that I need to pay a boy to do my homework. That kind of message is wrong, appalling, and it thoroughly ticks me off.

      Anyway, again — thank you for commenting!

  3. September 15, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    Hello Alison! This is an off-topic comment, but I wanted to let you know that I’ve nominated you for a Leibster award. Congratulations! 🙂

    • Ali
      September 17, 2011 at 8:24 am

      Oh, my goodness, Colin — thank you! I really appreciate that. 🙂 Thank you!

  4. September 29, 2011 at 10:54 am

    My blog includes everything from fashion to understanding communism. I contribute a monthly cooking page to a friend’s blog. I write, illustrate, design book covers and book trailers, do decorative woodburning and help my husband run his consulting and mortgage protection business. I work as a data analyst for a major bank. I am walking 60 miles in 3-Day For the Cure in October. The topic of my master thesis was “Computerized kinematic analysis of spherical four-bar linkages”. I like pretty dresses in the 1950’s “new look” style. I dare anyone to stereotype me.

    • September 30, 2011 at 7:57 am

      Jane of All Trades, Maria! *grin* you certainly do a little bit of everything, and that’s great. 🙂 Thanks for reading and commenting!

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