‘You only got a higher grade because you’re a pretty girl’. That sentence. That fucking sentence. If there’s something that instantly makes me feel sick, it has to be that. It’s like with everything I do, every achievement I earn and every step I take, there’s this little thought spooking through my head. It’s like a demon stuck to me and there’s nothing I can do about it. Let me explain. First of all, I want to clarify: I don’t see myself as this hot bombshell or something. I’m not insecure about my looks, but I’m not writing this piece out of arrogance or narcissism. No, I’m writing this because this is something I honestly have heard a lot during my law school carreer. And it makes me sad, angry and helpless at the same time.
When I went to university, one of things I expected there were people like me. I pretty much disliked high school and I felt so happy starting this clean slate in another city with people that all chose the same study. I thought these people would have similar interests, thoughts and values as me. Well guys, if there’s something I’ve learned during my 2,5 years in uni is the fact that even if people chose the same study as you, they are NOT the same. I’m really happy to have found some awesome friends for life in law school, but with most of them, I just didn’t feel any connection.
Let me come to the point. If you know me, or even if you don’t: one of the thing that I love next to law is fashion. Maybe it has to do something with my Russian roots. In Russia it’s not done to look like shit as a woman when you’re outside. My mom and family always made sure I looked presentable, otherwise I had a problem, haha. Later on I did it myself: ever since I was little I wanted to change my outfit everytime I got a stain on it (and yes, I was that clumsy kid haha). Anyways, that’s the reason why even in -30 degrees Celcius Russian girls are walking in high heels in Moscow and don’t even think about it. I guess it’s a cultural thing. But one thing that I really appreciate there, is the fact that beauty from the inside (brains) and outside (looks) are something that can be seen together there. Of course, I’m generalizing a bit now, but you get the point. I feel like being smart and being ‘pretty’ shouldn’t be either/or, but also/and.
Well, when I started my law school journey, I was so motivated. Like SUPER motivated. In high school I never was one of the best in class. I never stood out in that way. And I wanted to change that so badly. I wanted to show others, but especially myself, I was capable of being the best. Ambitions much. The funny thing was, I never really thought about how others would perceive that ambition. I was used to always getting a 6/10 in high school and nobody really cared that much about my grades back then. I never knew how it was to be ‘the best in class’ and how judgemental people could get. Well, after getting a couple of high grades and finishing my propaedeutic year cum laude, I immediately started noticing people changing their attitudes towards me. Especially when I managed to up my grade a several times during after-exam discussion with the professors. I was that girl that always got good grades and always wore daring outfits to lectures. I guess she only got a higher grade ’cause she’s a ‘pretty’ girl… Yeah, there you have it.
I’ve been blogging and making videos on Youtube for around 2 years. It’s probably the best decision I’ve ever made in my life (next to starting with figure skating, going to that vacay in France with my bestie when I was 16 and of course, deciding to go to law school). I will never regret it and I’m definitely planning on doing it for many more years. But with that being said, it’s scares the shit out of me too. When I finish my Bachelor this academic year, I really want to do the Research Master. I love doing research and I want understand the theories and systems behind certain (legal) constructions and think of a better solution. But, if people still stay so judgemental about looks and brains, how is anybody going to take my research seriously? What if somebody googles my name and they will see this dissertation about reduced liability in prisions for detainees next to a blogpost about the 10 fashion trends of 2018? Will this affect my credibility? Will people ever take me seriously? I’ve been working my ass off for 3 years straight, I get an average sleep of 5 hours a day and after a late night of partying I still go on my computer to finish editing a video or writing an essay (yes, my friends think I’m cray). I don’t want to nag, I love everything I do. But sometimes it feels like every effort I put in my blog/Youtube directly influences my law carreer in a negative way. Will I ever get to this point where people can compliment my outfit yet still take my research seriously? I guess I have to prove that.
Personally, I feel like this issue is one that has a lot in common with feminism. It’s not completely the same, but I feel like the root of this problem definitely lies in the perception of women by men. A pretty girl is dumb, and a ugly girl is probably smart. I think it would be way too scary if there was also the option of pretty, intellectual women. I feel like it’s getting better though, now that people like Emma Watson are creating more and more awareness. I would like to contribute to this cause too. And maybe this blog combined with my legal knowledge is exactly the combination I need. We’ll see…
HAVE YOU EVER BEEN ACCUSED OF GETTING GOOD GRADES/THINGS HAPPEN TO YOU ONLY BECAUSE YOU ARE A ‘PRETTY GIRL’?