• Mon, Apr 11 2011

What is the Right Way for Beautiful Women to Behave?

Well, ladies, it appears that our favorite “Mad Men” star has committed the ultimate sin: acknowledging her own good looks.

The Frisky recently reported that January Jones was quoted in Marie Claire UK as having this to say about her grade school peers: “The bitches in high school were bitches because I was pretty.”

Heaven forbid! Frisky writer Ami Angelowicz responded to Jones’ comment with sarcasm: “Oh my. She’s lovely. And humble. And so warm. I wonder how those bitches in high school ever could have hated her?”

Which, I assume, accurately sums up many people’s knee-jerk reaction: “What a bitch, she thinks she’s so hot.”

But as much as I hate to play the role of Captain Obvious…well, here it is: January Jones, as anyone with even one functioning eye can tell you, is indeed hot. And it’s no secret that girls and women of all ages can be ruthless when they set their mind to it (hello, did anybody see the movie Malèna?).

Sure, it sounds like Jones still holds a childish grudge against the girls in high school. But that aside, in saying that they were mean to her because she was pretty, January Jones may very well be right.

So why does her statement still cause, for some of us, hackles to raise?

Some may suggest that people who hate on Jones are jealous, or insecure, or that they assume that’s how everyone will react and want to be on board with the hate-train.

And all of that may be true. But underneath it all is the fact that beautiful women make us wonder about something we like to ignore: they make us wonder if there is a biological pecking order – a random, unfair and unearned conferring of a certain kind of status and power upon people who have done nothing other than have good genes.

Rather than take a good look at the myriad feelings that female beauty can bring up, though — be they jealousy, appreciation, lust, indifference, confusion — we more often than not ignore our reactions, or twist them into cattiness and dislike.

All of which begs the question: with people’s responses to their very existence being so potentially charged, what is the right way for beautiful women to behave? Should they tow the line and pretend that there’s nothing different about them? Cowtow and demure so no one feels threatened? Does being beautiful mean that you have some sort of extra responsibility to be concerned about the feelings of those less genetically blessed?

And in turn, what is the right way for the rest of us to treat our comely peers?

I suspect the answer to both lies in posing some questions to ourselves: what assumptions do we make about other people’s looks and how they wield them, and how do we ourselves wield (or not wield) our own attractiveness (or lack thereof).

Call me crazy, but I don’t expect that to happen any time soon. In the meantime, though, perhaps we should leave the tarring and feathering out of it.

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  • Kate

    Wow, that IS very humble of her. Maybe it’s the willingness to tag her classmates as “bitches” (to the entire world) that made her unappealing? Her comment just strikes me as tactless and immature… It’s like a mantra that a mother would repeat to you when you’re in second grade (“they’re mean to you because you’re prettier”) and not something you, as a twenty something woman, blurt out to the world.

  • shhh

    yeah but the full quote was something like “where’d you get that” That sounds like something Id have said when I was 15. Bitches are bitches because I am pretty.” Which I thought meant, “That sounds like something I’d have said when I was 15: ‘Bitches are bitches because I’m pretty’” I have not heard the verbal quote only read it with other people’s punctuation, but I thought she was parroting her 15 year old self and admitting that she was immature at that age.

    • shh

      *edit: second quotation mark (the one after the first that) should be removed!

  • Eileen

    The quotation without any context does sound a little catty, but I definitely think it’s a bit crazy that women so beautiful – often FAMOUSLY beautiful – have to pretend not to be to gain social approval. I don’t think it stops at beauty, either; women are expected to be humble about their intelligence and talents as well as their looks.

  • Allie

    I mean, beauty’s a commodity just like money or intelligence, and people tend to get weird complexes about all three. I personally think that no one should go on and on about how beautiful/smart/loaded they are, but I also think that bragging in general is tacky and a bit immature.

    There’s nothing wrong with pointing it out or owning whatever level of attractiveness you have, either, but it’s also important to recognize that (like any other social commodity) it’s not a cure-all. And beauty fades more quickly than money or intelligence, all else equal, so it’s kind of silly how people put such a ridiculous amount of value on it. I think the Bullish column (what to do with the pretty while you’ve got it) addresses it perfectly. It’s not a matter of watching out and trying not to hurt people’s feelings, it’s recognizing that it’s not everything and that, in the grand scheme of things, it’s not the most important thing you’ll have.

    • Hannah Beth

      Disagree. True beauty can last forever. And I mean that in the sense of personality and bone structure combined.
      If your definition of beauty is youth and a tight ass, yeah, it’s going to fade damn fast. But look at people like Carmen Dell’Orifice. She will always be beautiful because of her bone structure and vitality.

  • Gutiesc

    I personally hate that women are persecuted for proclaiming their confidence. As stated in the article, January Jones says she’s pretty…which is an extreme understatement. She was humble for even claiming she was pretty when she is indeed gorgeous, hot, stunning, etc. But the woman can’t even say she’s pretty without someone’s insecure snarky comments? That’s ridiculous. The unspoken rules of women are just ass backwards. Every woman’s magazine out there has endless articles on improving your self confidence, ending your relentless self ridiculing, polls on how much men love a confident woman, to finally accept yourself. Then, in a turn of events, a woman comes out and confesses that she is pretty and out of the woodworks, some one else has to blast it back down.

    Is it unheard of that someone else was maltreated because of jealousy? I personally am sick of people telling me I get ahead in life because I’m “a pretty girl” instead of noticing my hardwork. Now, if I were to say I get ahead in life because i’m pretty, I”m pretty sure i’d never hear the end of it.

    January Jones is humble and I, for one, will not fault her for telling it like it is. Amen.

  • Camila

    modesty is great, but i get january.. she IS beautiful! is she supposed to be oblivious to the fact, because some people are not?
    no one thinks is rude if someone is a genius and are proud of it, and work on it, and they did nothing but have the luck of good genes, just like beautiful people..
    i think we all should have modesty, but i bet she is right.. bitches in high school probably were mean to her out of insecurity and jealosy
    and on another topic, we all shouldn’t feel ashamed of feeling beautiful, we should feel pretty! we should feel beautiful, and not think ouserlves bitches because we feel so damn hot! YEY to January

  • jolievie

    She prob got so much crap at high school that she still holds a grudge and this is just her way of sticking up her two fingers at them.Success is the greatest form of revenge.there is a common misconception that all school bullies are cheerleaders or something but any girls at my school that were “beautiful”were the nicest girls generally the bullies had nothing to be crowing about,I remember one girl that used to give me crap was all out gross and even when she was shouting stuff at me I never pointed out her more than obvious flaws because then everyone would say I was mean and turn on me.When you’ve been through that crap you do just want to eventually rub the bitches nose in your success.I think that’s what she was doing,because it does make you defensive.

  • Hannah Beth

    I’ll be the first to admit that I sometimes feel a little threatened by really hot girls. But it’s actually something I’ve been conscious of for a while, and have been working on to be happy for those girls.

    I think women can’t say anything to bring Jones down about her looks (“she’s not pretty enough to say that! Look at her thin lips! Look at her asymmetrical face! Look at her ugly stringy dingy hair!”), so they decide to rip on her character. It’s the same as saying someone is pretty, “but dumb.” Like there has to be a qualifier.

  • Alicia

    I don’t see anything wrong with acknowledging your good looks. More women NEED to actually feel that way about themselves. If I think a girl is prettier than me, or dresses better than me, or looks good in any way, I mention it to her. It makes her feel good, and basically it’s kind of nice to acknowledge that the only reason you dislike someone is jealousy. That way you can stop yourself from doing something terrible.