Girl Talk: “Being” vs.”Doing”

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Image via Wikipedia

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher said something to the effect that everybody wants to “be” somebody instead of wanting to “do” something that will change the world.

I would probably edit her observation to say that we want to “be” somebody who is physically beautiful, rather than be like an unattractive woman who actually changed the world.

I didn’t like Margaret Thatcher’s politics, but she was a woman who knew herself and who walked in her strengths. It seemed that she was not at all consumed with looking a certain way so that she could be labeled as an attractive woman. In spite of her skill as a leader of a major world power, one almost never hears little girls saying they would like to be like her, or like Hillary Clinton, or like Mary McLeod Bethune.

No, young girls, egged on by their mothers, would rather “be” the next Paris Hilton (for whatever reason, I do not understand), or like Marilyn Monroe or Beyonce Knowles. The desire to “be”  is based much on how these women looked, not what they have done in or for the world.

If we complain that we considered to be sex objects rather than human beings, then we have ourselves to blame as much as the men about whom we complain. I have watched snippets of parents putting their very young daughters in beauty pageants, teaching them to capitalize on their looks, rather than learning their gifts and talents and building upon those things.

The tendency of white parents to push their daughters forward as sex objects is no less regrettable than black parents pushing their sons to aspire to be professional athletes.  In both cases, the little girls and boys become objects that will be used to make someone else big bucks, even after their beauty or athletic ability has long gone.

The hardest part about watching us women trying to “be” somebody else rather than to “do” something of significance in and for the world is that it is always futile to try to be somebody else. No matter how hard one tries, all one can be is oneself. Yes, we can get tummy tucks and dye our hair and get breast implants and any number of other things to enhance or change what people see, but in the end, I find myself wondering if we do that at the expense of taking care of how we feel.

It is good that beauties are all around us. Halle Berry, Jennifer Hudson, Natalie Morales – there are so many beautiful women who are also doing things.

It would be a good thing if we began to teach our daughters that it is OK to look at someone and admire how they look, and even take tips on how we might fix our hair or makeup…but that it is never OK to lose ourselves in trying to be someone else.

At the end of the day, the beauty and sexiness for which we crave are so fleeting. Long after beauty fades and being “sexy” doesn’t work anymore, the world would be better if it had more women who decided that, just as they were, they were better than just “OK,” and who forged ahead to help pave the way for real change in a very troubled and complex world.

A candid observation …

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One thought on “Girl Talk: “Being” vs.”Doing”

  1. I think it’s okay to admire celebrities, though not to the point where you try to change your own image to imitate theirs. American society is such that beauty is portrayed as straight hair and fair skin, that little girls seem to want to do anything to achieve that image. I think this article is spot on in saying that the focus should be on what the celebrity (or whoever) is doing and not just their image, because an image is superficial, but a person’s deeds can forever leave their mark.

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