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Pretty Like You

The woman in the video above is Katie Makkai. She’s a poetry slammer,  and in this piece, goes to town on the word “pretty.” She works herself up into a pretty good – and justified – froth:

This is about the self-mutilating circus we have painted ourselves clowns in. About women who will prowl 30 stores in six malls to find the right cocktail dress, but haven’t a clue where to find fulfillment or how to wear joy, wandering through life shackled to a shopping bag, beneath those to pretty syllables.

There have been times in my life – Hell, there are still days now and then – when I’ve been guilty of blaming internal dissatisfaction on my outside appearance, so that statement really hit home. One of the reasons I’m so enamored with CrossFit, Whole9Life, and that cold, unforgiving barbell is that I think, collectively, they’ve taught me “how to wear joy.” From the inside out.

Although Katie’s monologue is harsh and angry, the wrap up is hopeful and proves that if “pretty” is put in the sentence in the right place, it’s not a bad word:

The word pretty is unworthy of everything you will be… You will be pretty intelligent, pretty creative, pretty amazing. But you, will never be merely ‘pretty.’

I have to admit, I have a ridiculous predilection for J.Lo. going right now… I just can’t get enough of her (and her outfits) on American Idol. Ditto for Sofia Vergara from Modern Family.

They’re both so pretty physically it’s almost unreal.

But I watch them because there’s more to them than symmetrical faces and flawless physiques.

As it turns out, Jennifer Lopez gives surprisingly astute advice on Idol, and she’s far kinder than I expected. Sofia V. plays the voluptuous Gloria on Modern Family. And yes, she’s all kinds of va-va-va-voom – but she also has the comic chops of Lucille Ball and a laugh that shakes the rafters.

THAT is really pretty.

But I’m not pretty like them.

And I’m also not pretty like you.

I’m pretty like me.

Pretty mouthy, pretty tenacious, pretty loving, and pretty tough.

If I tell you I think you’re pretty, which I’m bound to do sometime because you. are. amazingly. pretty. What I mean is: you’re pretty amazing. As a human. Inside and out.

[Thanks to Sociological Images for sharing this video today.]

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19 Responses to “Pretty Like You”

  1. Lydia says:

    That poem (not to mention her presentation) is *amazing*. This line, in particular, was heartbreaking: "I have not seen my own face in ten years."

    I hope Ms. Makkai is able to reclaim her appearance for her own, and see her own face again someday.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Pretty powerful!!!

  3. Sandi says:

    Thank you for sharing, The message in her presentation was nothing less than profound. I just shared the link with all the women in my life who are nothing short of PRETTY.AMAZING. Myself included.

  4. Kim says:

    LOVED THIS!

  5. trish says:

    wonderful, touching, and strong – thanks for sharing

  6. Judes says:

    I got all teary!

    Thanks – this is a gem.

  7. Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Hello, pretty (awesome, amazing, smart, strong) ladies. I'm glad you enjoyed this clip as much as I did. I love that she got all fiery — don't often get to see women doing that in a way that's not a reaction to someone else… you know, just being. And being angry and smart. Love it.

  8. Nancy Chavez says:

    Awesome!!

  9. Monique says:

    Hey Melicious,

    I’m new to your site, but I have visited numerous pages in the few days. I just have to say thank you for posting this. It’s soooooooo inspiring.

    What I’ve learned from my whole 30/primal/crossfit journey is that when you take control of your life and your health you become a better person. It’s an amazing how doing something ultimately physical such as just eating or using your body has such a positive effect on you psychologically too. Maybe this way of life actually develops beauty from the outside in.

    • Mel says:

      I agree! When I move my body and eat clean food, I perceive myself as prettier — and if it’s all a trick just to ensure I keep working out and eating well, that’s fine with me. I’ll take it!

      Thanks for commenting — and welcome to our little crew.

  10. Makes me happy that this was passed to me through a woman with two young daughters. Beautifully done.

  11. Rebecca says:

    Thank you for sharing. I have been continuing to share at every opportunity I get. :)

  12. Megan A says:

    Wow. Just what I needed today!

  13. Jan says:

    Late to this party, but holy moly – THAT was amazing. THAT was incredible. THAT should be required viewing for every girl on her 11th birthday.

  14. Tina says:

    As the mother of a 6yo girl, I found that video to be wonderful. It is really hard to raise a self-confident child regardless of if the child is a boy or girl, but in our society today, girls have so much negative “publicity” to wade through, that finding healthy role models is getting pretty tough.

    Thank you for sharing that video, I will have to keep it in mind when/if my daughter ever wonders if she will be pretty enough.

  15. Mary R says:

    Loved this, too, even if though my preference does not lean toward words that cannot be used in front of children.

    Now don’t go hating/criticizing/whatever for this comment. As I stated, it is MY PREFERENCE and I am not slamming anyone else for using such verbiage. In this case, it made the poetry so much more powerful. So, I have to say I loved this work.

    Let me give one example of how people can be so cold and cruel: One day I was crossing a hospital parking lot, wearing a neck brace from an earlier severe car accident and walking slowly, because my back was also injured. A man turned down one of the parking aisles and almost hit me. I jumped back and, as he was getting out of the car, I commented that he might be more careful in the future. I was not angry, did not cuss him out, but his reaction really startled (and hurt) me. He looked at me with pure hatred and said, “Shut your mouth, you ugly f***ing b**ch!” I continued on my way, hurt by his words, mainly because I have never been, and never will be, pretty. It’s amazing how words can would deeper than weapons.

  16. snewsome says:

    That was Pretty freakin’ awesome!!! Touching and profound.

  17. [...] side note: In relation to the idea that pretty means worthwhile, this is worth a [...]

  18. Lisa says:

    Just telling it like is is…Outstanding..

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