Reviewed by Jallicia Jolly
"Every beautiful woman has a man who is sick of f*#@!ng her."
Although this quote may seem very trivial to some, it stood out to me more than anything else in this play. reasons to be pretty revolves around the importance of body image of individuals and the perception of beauty, or attractiveness. People no longer focus on the internal beauty; instead, trivial qualities such as a smooth acne-free face, a pointed nose, a banging body with a side order of pink lips are much more favorable. Neil LaBute intended to show his fans how appearance has become a huge aspect of relationships and how people may unintentionally disregard an individual's personality in search of their own selfish desires despite the feelings and emotions that are at stake.
The play commenced with Stephanie's outlandish tirade. After hearing that her boyfriend of four years, Greg, compared her with a gorgeous, new employee at the workplace, Steph is extremely irate. Apparently, Greg obliviously described her face as "regular" looking; an innocuous description that later causes Steph to permanently depart from the four year relationship. After few occasional attempts to retrieve his girlfriend back, Greg is struck with anger, frustration, and a bad case of the blues. Greg turns to his apathetic friend Kent, who does not value females and treats them merely as tools for his own sexual desires. It seems as though appearance is significant and if one partner does not find the other to be absolutely attractive, then the relationship has no purpose.
Neil LaBute's reasons to be pretty was replete with blasphemy. The characters in the performance articulated every common emotion that normal everyday people experience. Although these verbal instruments were not the most appropriate usage of vocabulary, it sent a blatant message out to the audience. This play revealed the experiences of four young working-class companions and lovers who began to realize that they are absorbed in dead-end lives and forced to empathize with their friends who were at the time, encountering obstacles.
LaBute's favoritism was unconcealed and manifested in different scenarios. He portrayed men as indifferent jerks who only care about themselves. Women, however, were the victims who faced constant emotional abuse through the wicked actions of their partners. Who would you have empathy for? There was one character, Greg, who did not confirm to the stereotype that labels many men. He also faced an internal conflict. After Greg catches a terrible case of "the conscience," he aims to balance his friendship with his personal morals. An enormous brawl occurs between him and Kent which results into the end of a friendship.
Although this play could have separated the opinions of the male and female audience members, the sympathy and pity for Carly, soon-to-be-mother and girlfriend of Kent, was inevitable. Every member in the audience, young or old, benign or cruel, felt the compassion and betrayal that Carly experienced. "A girl is like an athlete. They are good for a couple of years until their knees go." In other words, Carly is currently Kent's main squeeze until after she's pregnant when her body becomes haggard and unattractive. It's amazing how you could one day mean everything to one person, until you get a terrible case of cellulite or gain a few pounds. This quote also portrays the constant pressure and burden that females face in order to maintain the perfect image. Cellulite, pregnancy, menstrual cycle, menstruation, mental anxiety, mental stress, and menopause are all problems that females may be faced with throughout their lifetime. What's ironic is that mostly all begin with men!
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