Monday, April 27, 2009

The Susan Boyle Hypocrisy

I am really annoyed at this Susan Boyle situation.

Because what is the situation? An unattractive, overweight, older woman was judged solely on her appearance. I mean, is that really so shocking to people? When Susan walked out on that stage, all people saw was a plain frumpy woman and assumed she wouldn’t be talented because of it.

That she couldn't be.

As a society we tend to think that beautiful people have their shit more together. We assume they are happy, successful, trustworthy, and talented all because they’re attractive. On the flip side, we tend to think the opposite for less attractive people.

So because Susan is ugly, she must also be untalented. (Just look at the response of far too many audience members when Susan says she would like to sing professionally.) Yet, it turned out we were wrong in this case. And since Susan Boyle does have an amazing talent, we suddenly feel shamed by our quick dismissal of her.

But we are actually sending an even more damaging message in my opinion.

What we're essentially saying, is that if Susan Boyle had gone up on that stage and made a spectacle of herself, we would have been right in our judgments of her. No one would stop to ponder a second about her “inner beauty” or say how we mustn’t “judge a book by its cover.”

We would simply accept our initial ridicule as being correct.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love the fact that Susan defies almost every beauty standard our society imposes on women. She’s not blond, thin, tan, manicured, styled, or young. And we need more real people, escpecially women, in the spotlight if we’re ever going to actually try to tackle body-image issues with our young girls.

But this is only a tiny step in that direction.

So while I’m happy for Susan, I’m also sad for all the people who a little too “fat” or a little too “different” to be considered attractive by society who don’t have an immense talent to temper society’s rejection of them. Susan Boyle is vastly talented and I really do hope she wins. (I was going to say I’m a sucker for the underdog, which is true, but I feel like I’m doing her a disservice by thinking of her in those terms while she is so very talented.)

But let’s not pretend our acceptance of her somehow makes up for all the people we choose not to accept.

-If you haven't seen the video yet, you can watch it here.

1 comment:

  1. You're absolutely right . . . even though I was all about the underdog, I can see your point.


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