Robert Moore former student of mine sent me the link to Glee’s version of the 1999 TLC hit “Unpretty” because he thought the message had everything to do with what we talk about here at My Body My Image. He Wrote:
“Hi Ms. Howard! I read your blog alot and i feel like this song that was done on Glee has a great message. In the Born This Way episode, one of the characters debates getting a nose job cuz she hates her nose and wants to be pretty like this other girl. But the other girl has a secret and it’s that she had actually had a nose job when she was fourteen and used to be considered fat and unattractive, so she decided to completely change herself. and then the girl who wanted to get a nose job decides not to, but rather embraces her nose. this song kinda describes how they feel”
When I clicked on the Glee link and heard that it was TLC’s Unpretty a rush of memories came back, I was OBSESSED with TLC back in the day! They were like the anti-girl group, they were playful, wacky, sexy without being exploitative of their bodies and they had a message. They made silk baggy pajama’s sexy, they only bared their midriffs and there was so crotch spreading, or booty bouncing, they each had a character, denoted in their second album Crazy (Lisa Left Eye Lopes) Sexy (Chili- you might know her now from her reality series “What Chili Wants”) and Cool (T-Boz). They were three tiny little things who had the courage to be completely themselves in an industry that sought (and seeks) to make female artist cookie cutter copies of sexy half dressed sirens.
Their first hit “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” was controversial because it spoke of female sexuality – a women, like a man, wants what she wants when she wants it- and they were saying that’s okay. Lisa Left Eye Lopes wore a condom over her eye as to remind these women that you can have what you want when you want it but- always, Safety First! The controversy came not so much from the message as with the fact that they looked to be so young, where they were all over 18, they appeared to be 14-15. While the debate of the appropriateness of the song swelled these three ladies stood their ground and argued their case, and won! They rose to be the largest female group ever, and they did it by spreading the message of female empowerment and self possession through well crafted lyrics that we hear very little of these days. It was a very special time in music and thus I share the original version with you, and if you have never heard of TLC then I encourage you to check them out, their music and message it timeless!