The Theology of Cute

I have crazy love for Beyoncé and Alicia Keys.  Their long reigns at the top of the R&B charts are well deserved.  And they seem to genuinely embrace other women. This is quite an achievement when you consider how the script should go.  Cute girl surrounded by all boys — producers, musicians, arrangers, etc. — accompanied by nonstop, below the radar bitchiness.  But they took a different route.

Beyoncé’s all-girl band makes you wonder where female musicians are in the rest of R&B.

“I’m all about female empowerment. I’m all about pushing the envelope. I know it’s my responsibility to do something different.” — Beyoncé

Beyonce-and-all-girl-band

Alicia Keys does terrific work with Keep A Child Alive. But I also remember that she introduced Star Jones to her husband.  Regardless of how it turned out, she was looking out for another sister.  Better to have loved and lost …

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There is tremendous pressure to live and die by cuteness.  But if you live by it, then you die by it. What happens when gravity thwarts Pilates?  What happens when it’s time to take a stand?

Cuteness drives the double standard for women.  Condoleeza Rice reduced to her shoe fetish.  Michelle Obama elevated by her sense of style.  The literally invisible homely girls.

The problem is that cuteness doesn’t create a path to greatness.  And it is doomed to fail.  At some point, women are no longer accepted as cute.  Mannerisms, styles and gestures that sustained a life play out overnight.   Elevating cuteness simply delays an inevitable day of reckoning when folks have to come to terms with female power and aging.

There is nothing wrong with being pleasing and adorable but a girl-child who goes out into the world with only those attributes is tempting the fates seriously.

Cuteness has a sell by date.  For those who reach that day unprepared only disaster or reinvention are possible.

And what about people who have the potential to worship at the temple of cuteness but refuse (Whoopi Goldberg)?

Let’s find the off switch for,

She gained a little weight,

doesn’t dress her age

that outfit doesn’t work for her

Are we really concerned about the women we criticize?  Are we only interested in one dimension of their lives?  After the cuteness is gone or if we never had it, then what?

Beyoncé and Alicia Keys kind of make me think you can be cute and get something else really good, really lasting, and really impactful going at the same time.

I’m just saying.

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About liftingasweclimb

Mildred Lewis writes and directs for theater, television, film and the web. She's also a full time professor, Christian, activist and troublemaker with a passion to save as much of the world as she can.
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