Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Is Outer Beauty the New Universal Sign of Acceptance?

Hannah and Marnie from HBO series “Girls”

Lena Dunham, the writer and producer for the HBO hit series “Girls,” detailing the lives of four New York ladies navigating through their mid-twenties would beg to differ concerning the question of outer beauty as the sign of universal acceptance. Seeing that her socially awkward and frumpy character Hannah, seems to lure in some of the most attractive suitors on the show. Most recent being Joshua, a middle aged doctor played by the insatiably handsome Patrick Wilson. Many would argue that “Girls” is only a TV show. My reply would be yes it is, but one that mocks the life experiences of a coterie of females so fucking well that no matter how staged the scenario, reality is wedged in there somewhere. With that being said, if we were only exploring Hannah’s character, outer beauty could not be a form of universal acceptance, but because of her attractive bff Marnie, it just might be, or is it?

Why do I ask?
I was the epitomy of an or rather African girl, throughout grade school. Far from the posh queen of cool, I occasionally mingled with the go-to girls to bask in their ambiance in hopes of adopting their glow. It royally sucked, but in hindsight was necessary to my development [#longlivetheuncool]. What I envied most about these now women was the universal acceptance that seemed to come with their looks. It appeared nothing was withheld from them. Were they actually the chosen people? As I’ve gotten older, and graciously grown into my looks I’ve realized, not so. This could be because I’m not yet an official member of the ‘pyt’ club, or that outward beauty only gets you in the door, but not beyond the lobby.

Marnie and her egotistical art fling, Booth Johnson
What Would Lena Say?
Hannah’s best friend Marnie has the looks thing down: she’s skinny, fair skinned, has polished hair, and did I mention skinny? Basically all the things that society has etched out in its code of attraction handbook. Despite her looks, Marnie has landed in some super sketchy situations in man-candy land. After dumping her last lover for having a bad case of the boring boyfriend syndrome, the serial dater goes on to sleep with Hannah’s gay roommate, mutual friend, and ex boyfriend Elijah while cleaning up after a house party. While venting to Marnie about his alcoholic boyfriend, Elijah briefly alludes to his confused sexuality. I’m sure he was struck by the ambiance of her fresh perfume, soft skin and supple breasts and fell face first in her cleavage. So much so that he socially accepted her as a desirable mate despite being with a man. After his hasty test drive, he comes to his senses to marvel in disgust at what he’s allowed to take place. In this case it would appear that outward beauty is a universal sign of social acceptance, not only for the attractive individual but both parties involved, the party being Elijah.

Marnie’s next love affair is with the egotistical artist, better known as Booth Johnson, who audaciously proclaims he’ll sleep with her within minutes of meeting her - flattery gets you anywhere. Yes, she sleeps with him, only after realizing she did so because of the socially accepted idea of his profession and looks. In this case Marnie approaches his success as a universal sign of acceptance.

Hannah, on the other hand is short, chubby, tatted, and quite tackless. But attracts men just the same, two of which, her ex boyfriend Adam and latest fling Joshua, fall for her witty personality, honesty, and satirical confidence. But in both cases, as with Marnie’s interactions, it only gets her so far. While with Adam, Hannah quickly realizes how clinically insane and co-dependent he really is, after accepting his mountaineering charm and brawniness as socially cool, and pushing herself upon him until he’s forced to ignore her looks, and by default fall for her charm. Same backwards story with Joshua. The successful doctor is completely smitten with Hannah’s sociable wit when he first meets her, but after two days is turned off when she proves how outwardly insecure she really is.

Based on Marnie and Hannah’s circumstances we can conclude that both outer and inner beauty are universal signs of acceptance, but on their own are incapable of taking you the full distance – and the point in any relationship and or venture in life is to go the distance, right?
Hannah and her middle-aged doctor fling, Joshua
Where Do We Go From Here?
So, outward beauty is a universal sign of acceptance, but it only takes you so far if you’re battling insecurity on the inside, and inner beauty gets you no where if you’re not equally confident on the outside. Meaning, the total package thing is kind of necessary, and despite what you’ve heard, is very obtainable. “Girls” is a modern day interpretation of young women looking to complete their package. Although it can be difficult with the media constantly vomiting up new trends to follow, new weight loss goals to try, and new lash extensions to buy, it makes the picture of perfection seem surreal. Much is the case when you spend too much time idolizing someone else’s idea perfection, as I did as a young adult, instead of discovering your own. But if it’s our perfection we’re after, I doubt it’ll be difficult to obtain seeing that it belongs to us. 


  1. EXCELLENT post. I must admit that I feel more like Marnie, or used to when I was in high school. I, too, was far from prom queen cool. No, more like polar opposite.
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  2. thanks @girlie blog seattle. if you were prom queen cool in hs i guess our paths rarely crossed, hypothetically speaking, but it's great that they do now!

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