Tuesday, October 26, 2010


This morning, over on Single Dad Laughing, I read a thought provoking piece on the types of negative and demeaning comments women make about themselves, and how Dan, the Single Dad himself, thinks that the problem basically boils down to men behaving like Neanderthals and oogling airbrushed magazine covers, and prairie-dogging when a young busty hottie with "perfect legs" walks by.
I applauded taking some of the blame, but mostly, I cringed.

Why, oh why, does it have to be about the men in our lives?  At some point, YES, if men stopped behaving like hormonal teenagers whenever they saw something idealized, maybe that would change how many women hurt to see that some idealized version of the female body seems to turn her partner or desired partner's head more than she does.  Yes, that can hurt. Yes, men should be more aware of it, but it's NOT ABOUT THE MEN.

Yes, I yelled that.

This is about women. When women say hurtful things about themselves, it isn't because a man put that notion into our head. There are a lot of reasons.

We live in a society that tells us we have to be perfect to be valued, but we are contributing members of that society. Why are there airbrushed scantily clad women on magazine covers? Because they sell. And not just to men. To women.  We have agreed that these skinny ready-to-roll icons are what we should be, full well knowing that for many women, it's unattainable.

Quick question- who is the most beautiful woman on the planet?  Did a bunch of famous faces flash through your head? Did you sort them by "her lips are too big," "she's too bony," "she could stand to lose a few pounds," or "maybe if she were a readhead."  Now, who is the sexiest man on the planet?  Again, finding little bitty things you would change about everyone you consider?

Now, of all the women you've known, who was the most beautiful? The sexiest? Of all the men?

Serioiusly, think about it.

I am going to wager that a lot of the people we really find amazingly sexy, desirable, or worthy of emulation don't really fit into the mold of idealized perfection.  I certainly know that one of the most beautiful women I can think of weighs nearly 300 lbs and wouldn't make it on the cover of Cosmo, but I don't think anyone who knows her would argue that she isn't beautiful. Because when we look at people in our lives, when we talk to them, do we really continue to view them based on their thighs and cheekbones?  No, we don't. We notice the light in their eyes, the way they smile, we view them as them.

So why on earth do we continue to heap upon ourselves this load of bull that we have to compare ourselves to idealized standards?  It's not because something turns a man on.

I have an unpopular hypothesis. I think we continue to devalue ourselves because we want to.  We're afraid that if we admit "Hey, I'm spectacular. I'm beautiful, I'm smart, I'm funny, and I'm just right the way I am," then we don't have any more excuses.  So we CHOOSE to see the worst in ourselves and raise the bar of what we should be higher and higher and make it more and more unattainable so we can always say "spectacular is too hard to achieve, so I'm not going to try."

It's not just about how we look. It's whether or not we try new things, whether or not we try to get that new job, why we don't put ourselves out there.  It's safer, and easier to say "I can't, I'm not good enough, I'm not going to try."

No man does that to us.  We do it to ourselves.  They do it to themselves.

So guys, yes, stop being jerks. It feeds into the complexes of those of us who are more comfortable being afraid of believing in ourselves.  But moreover, EVERYONE- take a look in the mirror. Find something you like.  Chances are, someone else likes it too.  Now think about something you're good at.  See, there? Look at you being all good at something.  You're awesome.  Now make a point of finding the awesome in others and making sure they know you know it.

NOTE- This isn't nearly as eloquent as what I want to write, but at the moment I feel like timely is more important than eloquence.

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