Every pretty girl has felt that stare, the one that slips a hand underneath your skirt from across the room. It makes you uncomfortable, but you don't duck out of sight because you know you're supposed to feel flattered. And so you dismiss it as "boys being boys" or "dirty old man" syndrome and laugh about the creep at the bar because did he really think he had a chance? But he did, and simply because we blame ourselves for the attention that we receive as a pretty girl and pull self-consciously on our skirts because that must be the reason. Years of city parties, bars, and unshaven musicians have put the twenty-something girl on guard, so we do one of two things... go to his place or return home and lose ourselves in our bedrooms alone, which is altogether safer.
Because we're balancing the modern rules of fast-paced sexuality, sexting, and being so desperate for someone to see anything above the shoulders that it's near impossible to really invite anyone in. We also always know when it's time to leave, should the gentlemanly pierced and tattooed musician convince us to come home with him. Us hipster girls plan our escapes easily, slipping away into the morning or in some cases the early afternoon once we realizes he didn't get what he wanted and that whole "I like the way you think," thing, that was just a lie. Thing is, it could've been but it could also be true. In either case we will never lie in his bed long enough to find out. Perhaps we just want a respite from being lost in our heads no matter how charming he is and how much we enjoy toying with his piercings or running our fingers over his multiple tattoos.
The pretty girl? She could be anyone, but the one I refer to is often the baby-faced twenty something sitting alone at the typical hipster bar gazing into one of her two free drinks and ruminating on why she will never be seen as anything but s-e-x. The men she teases call her coy, they beg her to let them inside, but not in the way that she wants and never understand that what she does is hurting her as well. Mixed messages, which are the cornerstone of being a tease are just as confusing for the giver as for the receiver and neither party will ever get what they really want. Years of "Where are you?" texts, instead of "How are you texts?" have complicated her and so she turns herself into just a pretty face, because it's easier and almost less painful to just let someone look below the shoulders, since that's where she thinks their eyes were traveling anyway and so, so much of this she learned in the media. I'll refrain from using "we" in this paragraph, because some of us do manage to have actual boyfriends and live in cramped city apartments taking turns walking french bulldogs to and from the corner store.
I brought one of these mythical pretty girls in media, Sky Ferreira, up to a girlfriend one day and got a four-word "I think she's trash," response. I don't see this in early photos; I saw an underage girl with long wavy blonde hair and a fresh face made up as a modern Lolita to sell her first single "One," to the media. Her image was half-stylized and half inward born, since the looks she plays to the camera and the way she blows that bubble are far too psychologically provocative to be entirely vapid. In fact, these images topple anything done by her original inspiration Britney Spears on the coy scale. Her 2012 strung out mug shot could misconstrue her as just another electro-pop waste land but I just see it as being far more complicated than that, even on the Ghost EP where she still had the Barbie look, wore little floral sundresses, had sad dreams, and remained lost in her bed. Side note is that Sky actually does have a boyfriend, but the media hates him so either way the pretty girl is always seen as a damsel in distress in a relationship or in unconsummated late night hook-ups.
For her Night Time, My Time album Ferreira did a dramatic switch-over image wise and completed exposed herself from the neck down on the cover. She said herself that it was "aggressive... but not in that way." Overtly sexual, the photo struck me as pain the pretty girl would endure in the shower after an encounter whether it was a tease or not, simply because she let someone in and was perhaps for a split second vulnerable. She also said, "Who the fuck showers with their clothes on anyway?" which at least adds some humor to the disturbing image. In the Rolling Stone "Encounter" with her by Julianne Escobedo Shepard she was described as being far less intimidating in person than in online photos, which project lyrics that the author described as transforming, "Vulnerability into feminist rage, directed at crummy ex-boyfriends and the record label limbo she was stuck in for years while hinting at darker agonies." Sometimes it seems the pretty girl is cursed to remain in her bedroom, because once she steps out into the world the arch of her hips speak for her, no matter how she protests that she does in fact have thoughts in her head.
And how could an ingenue who has recently chopped her hair, smeared her mascara and swaddled herself in oversize jean jackets and combat boots not be protecting herself from the niche male audience who lusts after her delicate heart-shaped face? Troubled can really work for you in the industry, or maybe just in a city based music scene, as long as your make-up is always flawlessly undone while you fight off the hounds of hell. Pretty girls have the ability to be articulate but perhaps they're battling something, whether it's a simple misunderstanding of their sarcasm on the Internet or former traumas that the men who ogle them don't notice. Instead they try to catch a glance under the hem of the skin-tight American Apparel dress and brush aside the artfully mussed hair that falls in front of our eyes. So thanks Sky, you've spoken for some of us, and although the boys may never get what they want we've given our best tease.