Firsa (roofshadow) wrote,
Firsa
roofshadow

Unpretty

I recently found myself watching the video for TLC's 1999 hit Unpretty on YouTube. In the way that one does when one is very adept at wasting time online, I thought to myself, "I wonder what the actress playing the bulimic teen has gone on to do." This seemed like a simple enough question to answer so I looked at the Wikipedia entry for Unpretty. The young actress portraying the girl getting her breast implants removed was identified but that was all.

I am not one to give up on a whim that easily – especially because it struck me as ironic that a video celebrating the beauty of this young woman had not ensured that anyone knew who she actually was. I spent well over an hour trying to find some site, somewhere, that identified this actress. At last after trying any number of search word combinations I came upon someone posting on Yahoo Answers decrying Tamika Katon-Donegal's appearance in an infomercial for Barry's Boot Camp weight loss program. The poster thought in the Unpretty video Katon-Donegal was "beautiful almost perfect" and as a "fat admirer" was "heartbroken" by her boast that she could no longer wear the shorts from the video.

I was a woman on a mission and tracked down Katon-Donegal's SAG resume (her appearance in the video is not listed on her IMDb profile) so that I could get the Unpretty article on Wikipedia updated with her name and a verified citation. Mission accomplished.

It's a very small accomplishment but it gives me a feeling of satisfaction to see her name there. It makes me happy to see all her subsequent accomplishments as well. Still the little research I did gnaws at me... What does it say about our society that an established actress' debut was not mentioned in page after page of articles and commentaries about a video promoting her transformation into a body-positive role model? What does it tell us about the values we internalize when the only person who noted her name was someone who found her figure extremely attractive?

I don't know how to feel about it. I don't want any woman to feel that she must be "beautiful almost perfect" in order to be remembered. I don't want any woman to feel that she can't be perceived as beautiful either. I don't want any person to feel that way. For now that newly delineated belief is just there, sharpening my perception. Perhaps that is all it will do or perhaps I will find a new mission. Silly as this one or far more serious, I hope it makes the world a little bit better.
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