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MAIL OPINION  By Shana Kongmun


Substance over style

A friend of mine recently posted a picture of herself and her daughter on Facebook with the note that her daughter was going to study what is a slightly unconventional career for a woman, especially here; but certainly not one in which she could not excel. She is intelligent, well educated, speaks English quite well and has a personality that seems suited to the job.
I was impressed, frankly not because she is a girl going after it but because in a society that often values looks over substance that a pretty girl was going for something that was not focused on her looks but rather on her ability. Good for her, I think and I am sure she will apply herself and be darn good at her chosen profession too.
Interestingly a lot of the comments focused not on her choice, or her graduation or her intention to pursue higher education but on the fact that she was a pretty girl with a pretty mother. Certainly Facebook isn’t a place for deep meaningful insights but I was a bit disheartened to see that, indeed, often society (my own country included I should add) values the looks of a girl over her intelligence and accomplishments.
How often do we look at Meryl Streep and think, “Wow she looks fabulous for her age” rather than think “Dang, that woman is a fantastic actor and has won three Academy Awards, a Cannes Best Actress, two Emmy Awards, 8 Golden Globe Awards and has been recognized not only by the U.S. President with a National Medal of Arts but also by the French who made her a Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters. She has been nominated for more Academy Awards than any other actor, ever. And yet, we look at her and think, “Wow she looks fabulous for her age.”
I am guilty of these perceptions of people myself and when it is a total stranger don’t feel so bad doing it. However, when it is the daughter of a friend of mine making choices for her future, or any young person for that matter, I will encourage them to make the choices that utilize their intelligence, talents and skills over their pretty face every single time.

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Substance over style