My name is Emma. This is my feminism.

Just The Way You Are – Bruno Mars

on April 18, 2012

When this song first came out, I was kind of in love with it.  (It didn’t hurt that I also had a boyfriend at the time, so I felt like someone actually thought all those nice things about me too.  Otherwise it might have just made me sad and lonely.)  But, if you actually listen to what he’s saying, it’s all about what she looks like. 

What he comments on:  her eyes, her hair, her beauty, her face, her smile, her lips, her laugh (arguably superficial)

What he doesn’t comment on: her personality, her intelligence, her passions, her dreams, her love, her support, her likes, her dislikes

I still think it’s a nice song… but really? That’s all you got?  That’s all the matters?  I don’t think it’s a bad thing to tell women everyday that they’re beautiful just the way they are.  I just don’t know if it should be referring only to how they look.  Let’s redefine beauty please.

Still, as a relatively normal looking woman, listening to the song did make me feel good.  Like even though sometimes (often) I feel insecure and ugly, maybe I am beautiful just the way I am too.  Then I watched the video and saw the woman he was actually singing too.  She is extremely conventionally beautiful.  It doesn’t seem like he thinks she’s beautiful because he loves her… it seems like he loves her because she’s beautiful.  This is really problematic for an average woman/girl looking in.  “Well maybe I would be okay the way I am if I looked like that.  But nobody’s guna sing about how great I am looking like this.”

I have no doubt that as beautiful as the woman in this video is she really “don’t see what I see.”  And this is sad.  I don’t know any woman who sees herself realistically, even the ones who are  conventionally physically attractive.  It’s so frustrating, and maybe if someone told them everyday that they were beautiful, maybe they would start to see it.  But then again, maybe they would just feel even more like their self worth comes from what they look like and what men think of them.

I also have a bit of a problem with the line “And when you smile, the whole world stops and stares for a while.”  I’ve recently been really interrogating my ideas about beauty and why I think women want it so badly (partly because of America The Beautiful which I will post about next week).  If you watch a scene in TV/movies where it is showing ‘the sexy woman,’ everyone in the room is staring.  Everyone knows she is beautiful. It is not about personal taste, type or desire.  It is clear that she is objectively sexy. 

I think that we all (at least I do) secretly believe that if we could somehow become pretty enough or sexy enough then it would become objective.  Everyone would be attracted to us, and we would know that we were beautiful.  But in real life, of course, you will never get to that point.  Even if you look amazing, someone will not be into your style, someone else will think you’re a slut, someone else will be gay and not notice you at all.  So in saying that “the whole world stops and stares,” Bruno Mars is perpetuating that idea.  If only I was attractive enough for the whole world to like me.  

I just wish we could love women (and ourselves) for being something other than physically attractive.

One response to “Just The Way You Are – Bruno Mars

  1. […] she looks like.  Even Pacey does this all the time.  Any song about a woman, whether it’s a love song or a drinking song talks about what she looks like.  The best complement you can give a woman is […]

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