Being a woman in any profession can be a challenge because society is so focused on a woman’s looks. Men have pressure to look and be a certain way too, but the pressure seems more predominate for women. Women have been told how to dress, how not to dress, how to wear makeup and do their hair, and it’s usually so that they are as “visibly appealing” as they can be.
I sort of thought that I could avoid all that shit as a writer. I mean, I write from the privacy of my own home when my kids are asleep and pants are certainly not required. I don’t need to dress to the nines or put lipstick on to write, and I love that. I don’t feel the pressure that most women in professional fields feel – or at least, I didn’t and I thought I wouldn’t.
But lately, I’ve opened my eyes to this rather unsettling piece of knowledge:
Society thinks that in order for a woman to be considered truly successful, she must be talented in her profession and look “visibly appealing”.
If she doesn’t meet “all the criteria”, she is attacked verbally for it. It happens to female writers, too, and more often than I care to admit. I’ve seen hurtful comments about physical appearances on many female author pages, or articles about female authors, or their photos. I try to turn a blind eye to it, but it’s getting harder to do.
I have yet to witness the masses comment on John Green’s social media posts, telling him he “must not be a good writer because he’s ugly“.
For the record (and before Allie slays me for using the words “John Green” and “ugly” in one sentence), I’d like to state that I do not think John Green is ugly in any way, shape, or form. I was using a comment made about a female author, but putting John Green there for emphasis.
John Green is an incredibly talented, remarkable author and he came to mind because of his talent. It wouldn’t matter if he looked like my big toe after a hot summer day in hiking boots; his talent is the important part. That’s how it should be, anyway, for everyone.
That’s how it isn’t for women. We are constantly defending our looks and our talents. It doesn’t matter what side of the spectrum we fall on (whether we are considered “visually appealing” or “not”), we have to defend our talent against our looks either way. We are told we must not have real talent for being “too pretty”, and we must not have real talent for “being too ugly”.
Do I care that some random, faceless anonymous person thinks I’m “ugly” and “ick” and spent two days re-sharing different photos of me telling me so? No. Do I care that my talents have to consistently be tied in to how I look? Yes.
My looks are not an indication of my writing capabilities, and frankly – I’m not here to impress anyone with my looks. My looks are the most insignificant part of who I am. I am empathetic, I am sensitive, I am creative and I am determined. I am, at times, a bit of a scatterbrain but I have the best of intentions. I have a huge heart and while it does bruise easily – it is not bruised by faceless, anonymous internet dwellers.
I am not here to play into someone’s warped ideas of beauty. I’m here to write and share my books and my stories with the world. If you’re going to drag appearances into it and go out of your way to make me feel insignificant, you will be blocked and deleted and not missed in the slightest.
This experience just opened my eyes more to what women have been dealing with for centuries and I wanted to take a stand, I wanted to stomp my foot and say no, no more.
Our talent is not measured by our physical appearance, and neither is our worth.
***Editor’s Note: John Green is not ugly. I’m just saying.
J.C. Hannigan is a married mother of two in her mid-twenties. J.C. is addicted to coffee, Instagram selfies, Cadbury Mini Eggs, and Dill Pickle chips (only not together, because that would be gross). She has been blogging for nearly 10 years, and won a Bloggie award some time ago. She writes new adult romance novels and currently has two books published, Collide and Consumed. You can find J.C. pretty much everywhere; except, it would seem…in the laundry room.
Visit J.C. on her website.