November 05, 2014

"Maybe you look too pretty?": Why it's never an okay answer.

It was my gut reaction to why some women feel unsafe while running alone, and it wasn't right.

I know how it feels and I never look pretty when I run. While training for my first half-marathon I ran in the early morning to cover my miles before the temperature climbed too high. Darkened pathways and strange men kept me on high alert, picking up my pace when I passed either.

This fear culminates in planning how to defend myself from an attacker: How quickly could I grab my spare key? Where could I jab it to buy myself enough time to run to safety? Could my bladder release on command if I was desperate? If I called out for help, would anyone come to my rescue?

My imagination can get the best of me, something unhelpful as a person managing a degree of anxiety on a regular basis. I take measures to keep myself safe. I don't run with headphones or earbuds. I run against traffic. I wear brightly coloured clothing and I have a pretty fierce BRF. I run in daylight hours. I share my route and estimated arrival time before I go out (even if in a text message).  I do everything the experts encourage women to do when they're out running alone. Still I am always on high alert.

Our world is not as it should be. It never will be. Tiny minorities of ghastly people do unimaginably horrific things and it'll be all we hear about on the evening news. Curtains get pulled back to reveal what's really going on behind closed doors. Sticks and stones are the least of our worries because words on screens have become the nastiest.

Women (and men) aren't victims because they're attractive. Questioning whether a person is to blame for his or her victimization for any reason shifts the blame from the perpetrator – who deserves all of the judgment and vitriol – to the victim. Not okay. Not ever.

And for my mind to jump to this conclusion first? I was embarrassed. And ashamed.

I write this as much for myself as for anyone out there who has ever fallen into the "Maybe you look too pretty?" trap without even thinking about it. Even though I know what it feels like to be vulnerable and fearful. Even though I know better. I jumped to that conclusion. It was the first response that popped into my head. And that's not okay. Not ever.


  1. What is a BRF?

    YOU ARE SO PPRETTY! But, you can't help it - nor can anyone else ;)

    But in light of a semi-famous Canadian journalist's sexual desires, it is sick to see how people blame a woman for not reporting. Victim blaming is incredibly sad. Though, shamefully I can say there's been a time or two where that is my immediate thought also.


  2. Ashley!!

    BRF: B*tchy Resting Face.

    It is sick to see how easily shame is being lobbed at those women, yet we're all a part of the problem (even in our subtle, unconscious ways). I don't judge them for not speaking up. I don't know I would have...

  3. Great post Linds!! Very thought provoking.

  4. Thanks Laura. Perhaps we'll have to grab a coffee and chat more one of these days.


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