Smart is the New Pretty
In preparation for my next theatrical production The Heart of A Man, I have been informally surveying gentlemen to learn about their definition of beauty. There has been a resounding theme of those in search of more than just a pretty face. I often speak of the lack of positive female role models who are know for more than the enhancement of their bodies or catty antics on television but I must say, there has been an avid portrayal of men who support smart women.
I can rattle off the names of powerful ladies who have men who support and lift them up. Smart is the new pretty. Ladies like Michelle Obama (First Lady of the United States of America), Sheryl Sandberg (COO of Facebook), Hillary Clinton (Former US Secretary of State) and Ursula Burns (CEO of XEROX) just to name a few. When you are posting on Facebook, you never really stop to think that a lady is running the show now do you?
Over the weekend my oldest daughter Lauren brought home her report card and she was delighted to share that she made straight A’s. We of course celebrated and after doing so, she informed me that in the midst of receiving their report cards, many of her friends shared their grades with each other. During this time, one of her friends revealed a report card that had all A’s as well. I replied that I was happy for him but she interrupted me with a strange look on her face that was displeasing. I asked what was wrong with that? In her words, “I need to step my game up, he had an A plus for every subject.”
Puzzled briefly (because I would have been thrilled beyond belief for all A’s never really caring how much of an A it was), I recognized two important factors:
1. Academic achievement was synonymous with her self-worth.
2. She believed that she could compete on the same level as her male counterpart.
I stood there in silence but I was really doing the “Harlem shake” (that’s a popular dance) in my mind.
Now let’s be clear, there is no one factor that should govern our self-worth; it is a mixture of several elements that make up who we are and how we feel about ourselves and our abilities to contribute to the world; however, academic excellence and achievement have always been a self-worth measuring stick for men. And if this is so, why have we been taught to measure our self-worth visually. Why?
In my film I AM, I interviewed countless women and girls of all ages to find out why we have adopted this train of thought. This continues to be one of my main areas of research.
Later in the conversation, Lauren and I talked about starting her makeup collection as I have lately been finding her in mine (say a prayer for me). And while I don’t condone makeup for young girls, I recognize that she is approaching her teenage years and I take responsibility for the messages that she has received about what women do to be beautiful. She has grown up seeing me in preparation for photo shoots and filming sessions and not to mention all of the messages from mainstream media. If it’s time to talk about it, I say, let’s do it now!
In this conversation, I also learned that even though academic excellence is at the forefront of what is important to her, she is also still interested in looking and feeling her best and I am all for that.
Part of the battle within is when we don’t do all that we can to be our best selves and that varies from woman to woman or in this case girl to girl.
Let’s get one thing straight, the days of the beloved “airhead” are gone. Women who are values for just the way that they look will not withstand the test of time. Looks fade away.
Last night while watching the American Music Awards, Alicia Silverstone, a coveted actress known for her starring role in a film entitled “Clueless” commemorated its 20 year anniversary. In the movie Alicia was a blonde bombshell who initially appeared to be clueless. Eventually, she found her pretty and the love of her life and it had everything to do with being smart and nothing to do with the acquisition of material things or the way that she looked. Some may have missed the lesson in the film, but I digress.
The last example that I want to leave you with is Jessica Simpson. My generation was first introduced to her as the loving wife of singer Nick Lachey. She was a performer and America’s sweetheart. She was well known for how beautiful she was. Men gasped at her beauty. After she and Nick divorced, she experienced weight battles and the yo-yo effect that bearing children often has on our bodies. In the midst of it all, she emerged as smart. Today, her net worth is said to be 150 Million dollars. This generation knows her as a fashion mogul whose products standout at Macy’s Nordstrom and other well known department stores. I haven’t seen any headlines about her beauty but I have seen several about her billions.
We deserve to be recognized and valued for more than our outer beauty but only if we demand it. If we demand to be respected for what we bring to the table and not only how we look when we arrive, we can redefine beauty.
In the meantime, find me looking fierce with my head in a book darling. Never underestimate the power of the women who knows her power. Smart is the new pretty. All my love.️ ❤️
Ardre Orie, Writer| Film Director| Self-Worth Advocate
P.S. To get your copy of the film I AM and be inspired to redefine beauty on your terms, click the photo above.