BY Victoria Cox
In this modern age there are many acronyms that women are faced with – MILF, PMS, HPV, STD (yikes) – but one term remains undefined. PGS, aka Pretty Girl Syndrome.
When we talk about PGS, we need to start, much like the bible, at the beginning. When a baby girl enters this world, blissfully unaware of her own gender for years to come, she is already being conditioned by society. Pretty little babies wear pink; pretty little dollies are pried into unsuspecting fingers. As baby morphs into toddler, she is handed princess toys and slips off to sleep at night lulled by stories of princesses who wear beautiful dresses and wait around in their castles polishing glass slippers, waiting for their prince. As toddler becomes child the emphasis is repeated over and over again in an endless cycle by well-meaning parents, teachers, the media. Pretty little girls are rewarded for pretty behavior. Smile nicely, play nicely, cross your legs, don’t answer back, don’t have an opinion. Everybody loves a well-behaved little girl.
Whilst there is nothing exactly wrong with this behavior – after all, women by nature tend to be naturally aware of their femininity – there are some dangerous pitfalls to be found. I have seen firsthand what this kind of conditioning can do to a girl if she doesn’t have a secure sense of self or have the kind of parents that nourish a child’s desire to be exactly who they want to be – an individual. Little girls who are told that they must conform to the expectations of others turn into young ladies who start to look outside themselves for validation. Young ladies are lured into the honey trap laid by the media that what you look like defines who you are. As they mature into womanhood, they start to become aware of side glances from admiring men as they saunter past with their hair and hips a-swinging. Pretty girls quickly learn that pretty girls get what they want. With a flutter of their eyelashes, they can get into the best clubs, then meet the hottest, richest men who are more than happy to squire them around town. Life can be a hell of a lot of fun when you are aesthetically pleasing to the eye.
But there is a dark side to all of this and it’s one that remains a dirty secret: pretty girls don’t stay pretty forever. When that cruel hand of time sets its sights on you, there isn’t much to do but watch in horror as that perfectly smooth skin starts to migrate south. Tick tock, tick tock. You look in the mirror one day and it suddenly dawns on you that you could probably smuggle a small family of immigrants across the border underneath your sagging breasts. This is where the side effects of PGS start to kick in and we only wish that we had read the fine print before swallowing the pill that society handed to us in wrapped in a pretty pink bow. If you have spent your entire life being told just how beautiful you are, how great you look in a bikini and you relied on this alone to validate who you are as a person, then there will come a day when you look in the mirror and not have a bloody clue who is staring back at you. To add insult to injury, it’s usually at this stage that the rich and handsome husband who loved telling you (and his friends) how hot you look in a bikini has traded you in for a younger model who is firmly ensconced in the 25-30 age bracket. By that point, it’s going to take some serious work (and hours of therapy) to undo all the damage that has already been done to your psyche and diminishing sense of self-worth.
Women need to wake up to this phenomenon that seems only to be getting worse with the advent of the modern age, where we are constantly celebrating women on the basis of appearance rather than what they have to say for themselves. In this age of celebrity where we need only to spread our legs on film to become rich and famous, what kind of message is this sending? If we don’t open a dialogue about these issues and educate girls from a young age then we are going to end up (if we haven’t got there already) with a society of women who run like screaming banshees from middle age, straight into the office of a plastic surgeon. What if we were to open a discussion about the untold damage that is being done by reinforcing this type of behavior? Perhaps we could create a safe forum for women where they are encouraged to take a peek under the hood at their inner engine and be ok with finding out who they really are and accepting it all, good, bad and ugly. I for one would love to see a society of self-aware, educated women who support one another on their life journey (and bring something more to the conversation than a discussion of the hottest nail color).
Superficiality is all well and good and to a certain extent a fun part of life, but when your sense of self is solely built on the rickety scaffolding of the external, then we are in danger of creating a nation of deeply unsatisfied fembots.