Pretty On The Inside

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I love the post “Pretty Ugly: Can We Please Stop Pretending that Beautiful Women Aren’t Beautiful?” at Feministing.com. The author coins the verb “Liz Lemoning” to describe the act of perpetuating the media illusion that people like Tina Fey in 30 Rock are not attractive. Scott and I have had a running commentary about this phenomenon for years. Every time we see an Ugly Betty billboard we inevitably launch into…

Wow, she’s ugly. I mean she’s wearing glasses. And braces.
I know, and fat, too. What is she like, a size 8?

It reminds me of a conversation I heard once with Matthew Weiner, the creator of Madmen. He was talking about the importance of the characters within the world of the show actually acknowledging the total gorgeousness of Don and Betty Draper, rather than pretending it doesn’t exist. Like, oh, every neighbor you have looks like that.

Last night I spoke about Some Girls to a group of journalism students at NYU. They were a bright and incisive bunch and they asked a couple of really difficult questions. It’s interesting to me that the stickiest part of the evening wasn’t their questions about sexually transmitted diseases or even about my strained relationship with my family as a result of this book’s imminent release. Rather, the most uncomfortable moment for me came when I was talking about the real narrative drive of the book being my struggle to love myself. I told them that I felt confident saying that I’m a beautiful woman today.

As I was saying it, I realized that, in fact, at that moment I didn’t feel at all confident of that fact. Self-acceptance remains an ongoing struggle in my life and it helps me to read articulate arguments like this one about media messages regarding things like what it means to be ugly.

I’m in the air between NY and LA now, finally heading home to my little man, whom I can always count on to find me beautiful.

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One Response to 'Pretty On The Inside'

  1. storydame says:

    Jillian, you were such an incredible speaker and the whole NYU class was thrilled with the Q & A. You are right there were some difficult moments. It is funny what some of us felt so awkward asking about was not what you felt most awkward talking about — the beauty thing. We in the class talked about it afterwards and a few of us felt awkward and intrusive asking you such intimate questions about sexual health and substance abuse in a barrage as a group. You handled it beautifully! Jessica

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