Sex with Men, Hoping to Feel Beautiful
Posted by BroadBlogs
Imagery is powerful. I remember my mother watching Marilyn Monroe movies and looking at her pictures in magazines. She bleached her hair and styled it like Marilyn’s. Mom dressed in high heeled boots and miniskirts and wore the style of make-up that graced magazine covers. My father loved it. I saw the attention men gave her, especially at parties. Looking back I see how the ideal of the perfect woman had a huge impact on the psychology of my mother. And me.
Although beautiful, mom lacked self-confidence and self-esteem. She gave up on her dreams to pursue the love of a man through beautifying herself. She became a submissive woman at the beck and call of the men in her life. No surprise, she married eight times before age thirty.
I watched men walk all over my mother, treating her like a trophy wife in front of their friends. But behind closed doors they demeaned and objectified her. I grew to dislike men, yet followed in her footsteps. It began in elementary school.
In elementary school super cute girls wore bows in their hair and cute dresses with knee high boots in white patent leather. I was plain looking and had a poor self-image, partly because of experiences with my mom. But also because I looked nothing like the ideal
images that surrounded me on magazine covers.
At the same time, I felt uncomfortable wearing glamour styles and dressed more like a tomboy. I covered my body even though looking back, it was rockin’! I still got attention from boys, but not the kind a girl wants. I was one of the guys.
My low self-esteem carried over into my teen years. Mom made comments about my body and told me I better be careful or no man would want me. I’d never had weight issues until my mom made me painfully aware of it.
I looked in the mirror and saw things that weren’t there. I wasn’t fat, but I thought I was. I wasn’t ugly, but I thought I was. I thought my friends were prettier than me. Funny, my low self-esteem made me less attractive.
With poor body image and low self-esteem women don’t reach their full potential. I didn’t. My life goal: attracting a man. I dropped out of high school. I dropped out of college. I had sex with many men hoping to feel beautiful, adored and loved.
I recently took a photography class and learned the secrets of Photoshop. The instructor showed an un-retouched photo of Cindy Crawford, highlighting the roughness of her face, acne, arm fat, and a “thick” waist. He then showed how they thinned her waist, removed the arm fat, elongated her chin, and gave her a flawless complexion for the magazine cover.
I sat in disbelief. None of the images we see in Playboy, Vogue, Glamour,
Sports Illustrated Swimsuit, Shape or InStyle are real images. Men are made to
believe this is what women should look like and they view women who don’t
harshly. Women and girls also believe these images are true representations of
beauty and glamour.
But I hadn’t known that.
Hopefully the future will see new media sprout up portraying real women without airbrushing and manipulation. Let women embrace who they are so they can be strong and healthy. I want to get to that point in my life. I am still dieting and still struggling with poor body image.
One day, I will embrace myself for who I am and not worry about what I eat. One
day I will have the confidence I need to make my way through this second half
of life with a great career and a great love of myself. I wish that for all
This piece was written by a student of mine. I asked if I could publish it on my
blog. She requested anonymity.
About BroadBlogsI have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych, women's psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State University. I blog for Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos.
Posted on June 20, 2011, in body image, feminism, gender, psychology, sex, sexism, women and tagged culture, feminism, gender, perfect body, psychology, sex, sexism, sexuality, social psychology, women. Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.