Issue 12  •  Spring 2013

You Are Not Simply “Pretty”
Posted on  February 12th, 2013
by Justina Tran

Just to clear up any misunderstandings, I don’t intend to offend anyone with the title. (Trust me, it’ll make sense if you continue reading!) Besides, what does “pretty” mean, anyway?

Poetry slammer Katie Makkai eloquently interprets the meaning of this “five letter word” (although “pretty” is technically spelled with six letters, Makkai refers to it as “five letters” crediting each unique letter) her impassioned performance. In her poem, Makkai recounts her raw adolescent years as a “funhouse mirror dryad” and how her mother pressured her to “fix” all her facial imperfections wrought by puberty.

Preceding the climax of the poem, Makkai confesses, “And now, I have not seen my own face for 10 years. I have not seen my own face in ten years, but this is not about me.” What’s it all about then?

“This is about the self-mutilating circus,” Makkai bellows, “[that] we have painted ourselves clowns in. About women who will prowl thirty stores in six malls to find the right cocktail dress, but who haven’t a clue where to find fulfillment or how to wear joy, wandering through life shackled to a shopping bag, beneath the tyranny of those two pretty syllables.”

And when you think that Makkai couldn’t be any more gut-wrenchingly honest, she continues explicating that it’s, “about men wallowing on bar stools, drearily practicing attraction, and everyone who will drift home tonight, crestfallen because not enough strangers found you suitably fuckable.”

Makkai’s take on the implication of the word “pretty” is both powerful and poignant. She meticulously pieces her words together to stomp an impression in your brain. The most memorable part and greatest takeaway is the ending when Makkai concludes that, “This is about my own some-day daughter.” (I’m jealous that her future daughter will have such a badass parent.)

If her someday daughter were to ever ask if she will be pretty, Makkai plans to exclaim in response, “No! The word pretty is unworthy of everything you will be, and no child of mine will be contained in five letters. You will be pretty intelligent, pretty creative, pretty amazing. But you, will never be merely ‘pretty.’”

And that, ladies, is why you are not simply “pretty.” You are far more than that vague five-letter word.

Here is the video if you want to hear Makkai’s words sear your soul:

embedded by Embedded Video


Share this post