Wednesday, November 01, 2006
Of the Unpretty (TLC)
When this song was first released, and went into seemingly endless rotation on MTV (this being back in the days when MTV played music occasionally, if not all the time), I initially liked this song. Most of us have to deal with these feelings one way or another, from time to time. Maybe men not so much, though I'd be surprised if guys escaped the feeling entirely. Anyway.
But then eventually it dawned on me that hey, how sympathetic can TLC really be to feeling ugly in the first place? I mean, even if they really were, they have teams of highly-trained professionals to spend hours on their hair and nails and makeup and lighting and photography, plus hordes of adoring fans available at the drop of a hat to tell them how wonderful and beautiful they are. I mean, I get that it's about how you feel about yourself, and this feeling isn't necessarily going to respond to what other people tell you about yourself if you don't really feel pretty, but damn.
There was also the fact that it was suddenly cool, for a little while there, to be a beautiful person writing music about beautiful people who felt somewhat less than beautiful. (The example that leaps to mind is "Beautiful Girl," by INXS, but I know there were others that I just can't think of at the moment.) Who, it should be noted, aren't really the people who need reassurance in the first place, given that they get breaks all over to begin with, by virtue of being pretty. And 'cause there are some genuinely fugly people out there who could probably stand to hear nice songs about themselves too, and (I imagine) never do.1
I'm just saying.
The other thing I want to point out is that there exists such a thing as the World Beard and Moustache Championships (link), and nobody writes songs about them. Maybe ZZ Top. But nobody else.
1Related but still tangential: in the show "Ugly Betty," are we as the audience supposed to sympathize with her because we're not all supermodelly either, or supposed to enjoy seeing her treated badly because that's how we would treat her if we worked there and could get away with it? Or is the ambiguity the whole point, that we're supposed to want to be cruel and hate the people who are being cruel?
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
His desire could tie my shoes, for
I also do that unpretty sensation to him.
"That was beautiful," he said to me,
"but that means it makes you cautious."
There, in the mirror's interior, the
one with the long hair -- that is
the same old me again, yes. (For today.)
The glance refreshes my outsides;
my interiors are blue.
Everytime I think that I'm with him,
it's due to you.
I've tried diverse ways, but
at the end of the day, all are equal: the one
I must blame is myself.
Am I right to shoot?
You can buy hair, if you don't grow it;
he can fix his nose (if you say so to him).
You can buy everything marked up, for
the man: you can do that.
But, if you cannot watch inside yourself,
I'll discover who you are also.
Done to me in that position, the sensation is
unpretty, so, damn, I'll do it to him!
(The unpretty sensation is also never uncertain.)
I satisfied him until now.
I'm being stupid:
I used to be so pretty to myself
(a little skinny), hardly
watching all these things. Why do I do it?
To maintain happiness? To
(perhaps) get to him ruined for you?
Then again, I got myself (hey), and
Oh oh oh oh oh Oh oh oh oh oh (oh)
Oh oh oh oh oh Oh oh oh oh oh (oh)