Whatever your experiences, Reasons To Be Pretty discusses it
I know it’s been said to death, but here it is again: Society has a different standard of beauty for women. It changes as the decades pass and the generations age, but the standard is still ever-present and always a little harsh. It’s why girls get into makeup so early and why adolescents dress certain ways; it’s why young women have the hardest time feeling confident in their own skin.
It’s a conversation to be had and a conversation that’s been going on, but there are too many aspects to it that the conversation will never really be over. And with Reasons To Be Pretty, we touch two particular sides:
The role of Carly is alternated between Brianna Bunagan and Marissa Teodoro
Reasons To Be Pretty, a thesis stage production directed by Gawad Buhay nominee Caisa Borromeo and written by Neil LaBute, digs deep into society’s obsession with beauty—its abundance, the lack of it and how certain expectations are held for women who have too much or not enough of it.
The story begins when Greg makes a harmless comment about girlfriend Steph’s “regular” looks, which gets back to her and pushes their relationship to the deep end. The rocky couple’s best friends, Kent and Carly, are married and seemingly picture-perfect. But as the romance of Greg and Steph spirals out of control, so does the marriage of Kent and Carly.
Reasons To Be Pretty moves forward, weaving in plots and strong moments that circle the themes of infidelity, betrayal and deceit.
The role of Steph is alternated between Stacey Renei Dy and MJ Vitug
The story may not seem out of the ordinary—some might even say it’s predictable: a pretty girl that has everything but isn’t taken seriously, an average-looking woman that finds the strength to love herself, the men in their lives that take them for granted and find comfort elsewhere in order to make up for a large void in their lives. Truth be told, it’s a story that’s been said a thousand times over. But you don’t sit in a theater to watch Reasons To Be Pretty because of the plot; you watch it for the moments of truth tucked within each monologue.
Carly, in all her aesthetic perfection utters: “I just want folks to comprehend that beauty comes with a price, just like ugly does.” The price she talks about comes in different forms. She’s hardly taken seriously, there’s an automatic fear that comes with walking down the street, there’s not understanding why people praise her (or put her down) for something she was born with. Is it her fault she grew up to naturally fit society’s definition of beauty? Should she be held to a certain standard because of it?
Then there’s Steph—admittedly average-looking at best—who says: “I don’t have that much going for me. Not all educated and smart or anything and not gorgeous. But I like what I’ve got and I’m going to protect that.” This is the mantra of our generation; a call to like what you see in the mirror and own what you have to offer; but what’s striking here, to me, is the call to “protect.” The use of this word alone adds a new dimension to a lesson that’s trying to right deeply-rooted wrongs. It says, you’re not only worthy of love and attention, you’re worthy of safety and protection.
The role of Greg is portrayed by Ian Pangilinan; Kent is played by Miko Insame
There’s not one conversation that will change the way society as a whole views and judges and sees a woman’s beauty. There’s not one movement that will create a pivotal shift. And while we’re at it, not all conversations deserve our attention—but Reasons To Be Pretty does.
You can get your tickets for How To Be Pretty, presented by Ateneo de Manila University Department of Fine Arts and Positive Space and staged at the Fine Arts Theater, 3/F Gonzaga Hall, Ateneo de Manila University, by clicking here. The show runs until December 8.
Art Alexandra Lara