Pursuit of pretty: pain without gain?

“Have you lost weight?”…

                                     “I’m not hungry”…

                                                             “You’re too fat to have an eating disorder.”


Beyonce has always got my vote. She’s glamourous and fabulous, but she’s real. She is relatable and she recognises the difficulties women all over the world face. The new video for single Pretty Hurts is emotive and intense; a shockingly accurate portrayal of what being pretty means to too many women and girls. ‘Beauty comes from within’ seems to have lost its meaning now, as not only are women expected to be nice, we’re expected to be beautiful.

IMAGE: Beyonce/Vevo


I don’t mean the expectations of men, hell knows they have their own body insecurities from media images of buff and ripped men, but the expectations of ourselves. We expect other women to look good, and we think that we ourselves must impress others; put on a front in order to be beautiful, pretty.
Pretty does hurt. I know first hand how much the pursuit of pretty can damage your body, your relationships, your mind. Eating disorders are seriously misunderstood, and are featured in Beyonce’s video. Purging, slimming pills, excessive exercise- these are all disordered behaviours and this is a realistic portrayal, based on research she did through talking with past pageant queens.

IMAGE: Beyonce/ VEVO

IMAGE: Beyonce/ VEVO

We fight for ‘perfection’- what she calls the disease of a nation- but who is to say what is perfect? The media; the clothes designers; our peers? Pretty is a social construct. What we accept as beautiful is often fed through mass media sources and through those who have control and power over what our society comes to accept.

IMAGE: Beyonce/ VEVO

IMAGE: Beyonce/ VEVO

As a nation of diet culture junkies, we revel in seeing celebrities piling on pounds. It’s cathartic- ‘yes, she’s put on weight. she can’t be much smaller than me now, yesss’. Why do we find it so interesting to see who has and hasn’t put on weight. I bet it doesn’t make them feel great- they’re just people too. We blame the media for giving us these body ideals, but if we didn’t love reading about losing weight so much, do you think we’d still see it in there?


We want to lose weight as a nation. And the media responds to that. We don’t want to lose weight to be healthy, not most of us. We want to lose weight because it’s what is ‘most attractive’. According to who?


Beyonce hits the nail on the head with this song and video. Perhaps a little stark, this video demonstrates some of the difficulties women suffer with in their pursuit of pretty. If we stopped judging each other by how we looked so much, maybe we wouldn’t be so obsessed. One thing is fro sure, Beyonce is pretty in this video not because of her hair or makeup or body. But because this song was written with all of us in mind.

Pretty shouldn’t be painful. Should we all not aspire to be happy above all other things?… 



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