To date, nearly 12,000 people have liked this quote and almost 60,000 people have shared it this Facebook post from Rose McGowan. I found out later that the quote wasn’t from Diana Vreeland. What led me to investigate was that somehow it didn’t quite ring true for the personality of Diana Vreeland that I had read about. That quote had the twinges of sour grapes. Diana Vreeland would have been far too intelligent for that. As a fashion editor, she found something good and attractive in everyone she met. She had the knack of highlighting a quality or physical feature that an art director with less imagination might try to hide (for example, focussing on Barbara Streisand’s nose for a Vogue cover). That quote made no sense to me at all. I tried to see if it made universal sense ( just try substituting prettiness with ugliness and female with male) and no, it didn’t. I asked myself, ‘What if a person is born pretty? Or wants to look good?’ Even animals have an instinct to groom and look better.
Diana Vreeland said in her biopic, ‘The eye has to travel’ that there is only one good life- and that is the life you want and you can only make it yourself. She made the best of what she had and the best out of the people she worked with- models, photographers, art directors etc. She was a hard taskmaster and sometimes not a pleasant person to work with. Her own children resented her neglect of them and her husband was off having affairs. However as far as attractiveness went, she knew the way. She herself wasn’t born pretty but she made the best of what she had and is remembered for her striking looks and fashion sense. So I wondered why would have said something like that and investigated it via the ‘Quoteinvestigator’- http://quoteinvestigator.com/2014/06/03/prettiness/
The truth is that quote was actually lifted from a 2006 blog post, ‘A Dress A Day’, by Erin McKean, (included within the original context of what Erin wrote it will all makes sense)- “I’m not saying that you SHOULDN’T be pretty if you want to. (You don’t owe UN-prettiness to feminism, in other words.) Pretty is pleasant, and fun, and satisfying, and makes people smile, often even at you. But in the hierarchy of importance, pretty stands several rungs down from happy, is way below healthy, and if done as a penance, or an obligation, can be so far away from independent that you may have to squint really hard to see it in the haze.” I agree with Erin McKean. Prettiness is a subjective quality and should not be an obligation. Health and happiness are far more important. A person’s real beauty comes from within. Diana Vreeland loved life and was extraordinarily curious- that made her beautiful. Why compare yourself with another and judge your looks- follow the example of Diana Vreeland and accept yourself. Just be happy to be who are- you are not your looks! PS- And always question things you see on Facebook- that way you learn a lot!