Yet women don’t care about looks so much because, even though women are very picky, clear physical cues to the best genes aren’t all that important. A man’s resources are what matter.
So say evolutionary psychologists.
Hmmmm. Maybe not. Read the rest of this entry
Most of us fall far from today’s beauty ideal: Blonde, blue-eyed, and skinny yet buxom.
Audrey Hepburn opened my eyes to how beauty can be defined.
After all, she only fits one of those narrow criteria. And her beauty is so much more than physical.
A lot of guys think women want to be beautiful so they can get sex. I’m sure many do. But some guys are surprised that — or don’t believe that — it’s often the reverse: many women have sex hoping to feel beautiful.
But then, men’s value often rests on how much sex they have, while women’s value often rests on their looks.
And as I’ve said before:
From the time they’re small, little girls are told they’re pretty – or notice when they’re not told that. They receive gifts of play makeup and vanity sets. They watch endless repeats of Disney princesses on DVD, buy beautiful princess dolls, and then graduate to Barbie or Bratz. All of whom have extensive wardrobes. It’s all about being pretty.
Meanwhile, girls and women are bombarded with media images of impossibly beautiful women who are photoshopped up the wazoo, modeling what they’re supposed to look like.
Who’s popular in middle school and high school? Pretty girls. By the time they’re in college young women are under relentless pressure to be hot, as if that’s the most important thing in the world.
When Dustin Hoffman took the role of Tootsie he got a shocking first-hand glimpse of all this.
In the film, Hoffman plays a difficult-to-work-with actor who no one will hire. So he poses as an actress to get a role. In an interview that’s gained a lot of attention, Hoffman says the experience helped him to see how men can unknowingly reinforce impossible beauty ideals.
His make-up artist had made him look like woman, he recalls, but:
I was shocked that I wasn’t more attractive… I said “Now you have me looking like a woman. Now make me beautiful.” I thought I should be beautiful. If I was going to be a woman, I would want to be as beautiful as possible. But they said, “This is as good as it gets.”
At that moment he had an epiphany that made him think twice about how he treated women. He told his wife,
I think I am an interesting woman when I look at myself on screen. And I know that if I met myself at a party, I would never talk to that character because she doesn’t fulfill physically the demands that we’re brought up to think women have to have in order to ask them out… There’s too many interesting women I have…not had the experience to know in this life because I have been brainwashed.
Women are taught from the time they are small that their value lies in their beauty — unfortunate since our shell is shallow and looks are fleeting.
But is it any surprise that beauty so often seems more important than sex – or anything else?
Back in college I knew a girl who did not seem to fit our cultural notion of “pretty.” But then a really attractive guy began dating her. Holding my own “lookism” bias, I didn’t get it. What did he see in her?
What happened next surprised me more. “Plain Jane” transformed into a beautiful young woman. It’s as though she hadn’t known her beauty, and couldn’t show it to the world until she felt someone else see it in her. And whether he actually did doesn’t matter. She believed that he did, and she was transformed.
This reminded me of a story my mom told me. An “unattractive” friend of hers went to college in the 1950s, when a girl’s worth was tied to how many dates she got. (Back then women didn’t sleep with the men they dated, so the only reputation they got was “popular.”)
Anyway, a frat decided to joke around by getting all the brothers to eagerly ask her out. Once again an ugly duckling transformed into a swan and the men began asking her out for real.
If you want to be beautiful, believe that you are.
Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
It’s in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
– From Maya Angelou’s “Phenomenal Woman”