First things first. I am a pretty femme genderqueer, this is often times, but not always, equated with being a pretty girl. Sometimes being a pretty femme genderqueer who is male-bodied makes me more oppressed than a pretty cis-girl, sometimes it makes me more priviledged. It's not simple. What I would say however is that the term pretty girl is basically reserved for femmes. Butches may be hot, sexy and what not - but they never, or almost never, get reduced to the pretty girl stereotype that femmes of all genders risk getting reduced to.
And here's where the problems BEGIN. Patriarchal society tells us that women get their main worth from being pretty. So with a patriarchal logic you would think that pretty girls have no problems, cuz they've fulfilled their obligation, the meaning of their life - to be pretty. WHAT MORE COULD THEY WANT??!! One may wonder. And I would answer. For one: We would like to be treated as whole people. If you're conventionally pretty you can't have any problems. If you're sexy, you must be a bimbo etc. etc. This is all bullshit. And when people use these arguments as feminist arguments. I WANT TO KILL THEM. These people who think they are feminists come with bullshit arguments like, Adele=good and talented, cuz she's not conventionally beautiful, Lana del Rey=Bad, she seems talented, but she would have never gotten so far without being conventionally beautiful. And once again what they are doing IS REDUCING WOMEN TO THEIR LOOKS. AND I WANT TO KILL THEM FOR IT!!! ;-) They are doing something very anti-feminist, that is not listening to what a woman has to say, but judging her solely for her looks. This is bad politics. Reallyreally BAD politics.
OF COURSE there is priviledge in being considered pretty, I understand that, you get more attention, you can get certain heads up, certain advantages - but there's two sides to it and there's always a boundary of how far you can go with your looks and when you've come to that boundary your looks start working against you instead of working for you. You start hearing that you would have never made it so far WITHOUT your looks or that you're only liked because of your looks. And this shit is exactly what is happening to Lana Del Rey right now.
Like several times I've performed for 70 minutes and poured my fucking heart out on the stage and thrown it at the audience and some people (not most, thankfully) have the nerve of only commenting on my appearance afterwords, like, "Wow, you're legs are amazing" or "You're so hot, I couldn't take my eyes off of you for the whole show". Am I supposed to take that as a compliment. Did you not listen to the words I've been saying, the political message I've been trying to get across for 70 minutes? Or do I need to hit you on the head with a baseball bat for it to come across?
But to get back to the whole issue of the phrase "Pretty Girls With Problems" (PGWR). For us femmes PRETTY is a backhanded priviledge chockfilled with backhanded compliments of objectification. Believe me, I know what I'm talking about. I have been groped so many times, Strangers have yelled so many things to me that have made me feel like a piece of meat, I have almost been beat up by guys who have been rejected by me. Umm, duh that I'm on my guard when someone hits on me when I know that I am just one rejection away from risking getting beaten up. Cuz unfourtanetely us pretty femmes/girls hardly ever get hit on by people who actually respect us as whole people. YES, this is a real problem. It's called patriarchy. It's called sexual harrasment. It's called assault. It's called being reduced to our appearance - a piece of meat. It's not pretty. But it sure as hell is a problem.
And than we have the politicized queer world that often shames femmes for being "shallow" and "obsessed with our appearance", when it is they, who with that remark are being shallow and obsessed with appearance. Femme is a gender expression - a gender expression that can be VERY subversive and very empowering and extremely feminist. It is challenging masculinity as THE NORM, and if anything is feminist THAN THAT FUCKING IS. In the queer world a femme is usually either ignored or objectified and it takes a lot of hard work to get past these two categories. You gotta really show them what you're made of when it comes to intelligence and personality and charisma and activism to start hearing something other than how gorgeous, cute or sexy you are. I don't know how many times queers have told me "You are so sexy" and I've been like "Ohhh, guess what I'M SMART AND TOUGH TOOOOOO". I must say however that things are getting better, thanks to us femmes organizing ourselves, but things are not moving nearly fast enough.
And if us pretty femmes/girls have the NERVE of feeling pretty you better believe that we're gonna be shamed once again. People can actually say things like "You seem like you know you're hot" - as if that's a bad thing? As if it's a bad thing to feel comfortable in your own body. OK, it is bad if you treat it like it makes you better and more important as a person. And if you start judging other people by their appearances, but HELLO being comfortable in your own body is a good thing.
That's one of the things I liked about working as a stripper. There were loads of problematic structures, but atleast I didn't have to deal with all the fucking hypocrisy and atleast I never had to apologize for feeling comfortable about my body (And when it comes to lookism and body politics-believe me the modelling industry is 10 TIMES WORSE than the sex industry ever has been).
I've actually heard some people diss performance artists because "you can tell that he/she/they like their body". And it's like. Whatever. Why is that a negative thing? Sure if somebody has a body that happens to be viewed as conventionally hot, it may not be subversive in itself that they are proud of their body, but that doesn't make it negative, it is only fucking negative when it is used as a way to try to exert power over others=i.e. I have a right to show off my body, but you don't cuz your body is not conventionally beautiful. That is when it turns into lookism. It is also problematic to ride on your priviledge and not understand that if you have a conventionally good looking body the road to feeling comfortable in it may not be as tough as it is for others.
I don't like how being seen as pretty since I was 18 has changed my perception of myself. How it for a short period of time gave me an eating disorder. How it made me crave for people to tell me I'm pretty, even if I've always been critical to it and all it's normative beauty standards and THE UTTER BULLSHIT OF IT ALL. How it has me fearing getting older, cuz I'll lose the pretty power. However I'm also equally looking forward to it, and being seen just for what I am inside and not having to deal with being objectified or treated as just pretty. It will be exciting to not even have that as an issue in my life, but I will never forget how it is/was, and hopefully I won't miss it when it's gone. Lookism is fucking bullshit. And yes. Pretty girls and femmes have problems - both personal and structural and often times they are linked cuz the personal is political. There are two sides of the coin. As Ani Difranco sings
"God help you if you're an ugly girl, course too pretty is also your doom".
And last but not least let me quote that article I cited on Lana del Rey:
"It’s definitely different than Courtney Love‘s brand of badness.
The question of the day is: Does Lana Del Rey have any depth at all? Is her bad and insane persona “real”? Or is she just a marketing doll to sell records?"
SO. It kinda sums it all up doesn't it? If you're a pretty girl people will wonder if you have any depth at all - even if you write super emotional songs. They will also think you're fake. And of course just "a doll".
And when it comes to Courtney Love, perhaps my biggest idol of all time, I KNOW what she'd have to say about this shit. And all us femmes who have been objectified again and again stand up in unison and sing along with her "Suck me off, suck me off forever my friend".
And to quote some of my favorite lyrics from Lana Del Rey:
"I'm pretty from afar, like a dark star", "Money is the anthem of success, so before we go out what's your address? Money is the anthem, god you're so handsome, money is the anthem of success."