Blaming current ideals of beauty.

21 Jun

One thing that has started to drive me crazy is (Christian) women’s constant blaming of not having a boyfriend or husband on impossible “current ideals of beauty.”  Whenever a woman goes through a dry spell and is verging on bitterness, nine times out of ten she’ll say, “Well, I just don’t measure up to all those models/actresses in the magazines, and that’s what men want.”  (I just realized that I’ve actually sort of discussed this issue before on the blog, but it’s an issue that keeps rearing its only-beautiful-by-the-world’s-standards head, so why not write about it again?)

This is a cheap excuse because it oversimplifies the issue.  Men are biologically programmed to desire beautiful women, and Hollywood actresses are selected for their beauty.  Of course men “want” the beautiful women in movies and TV shows and Victoria’s Secret catalogs.  But men also understand that (a) there are very few women, if any, they know in real life who are that beautiful and, possibly more importantly, (b) they don’t have what it takes to snag a woman who is that beautiful and keep her for themselves.  Not to mention, most men aren’t going to move to Hollywood just to try to get one of those women for themselves, especially not when they’ll be battling multi-millionaires and powerful Hollywood execs and men who are ten times as good-looking for those women.  So men settle.  Mate selection is a pragmatic undertaking when it comes right down to it.

So if men are willing to settle, but they’re not settling for you, why is that?  It could be any one or more of several possibilities:

  • Your physical appearance needs help. The average man doesn’t require that you be a size 2, but you should look like you are at a healthy weight for your body type and care about your appearance.
  • Your personality needs help. Smiling more and complaining less are good ways to start.  Also, if the only thing that interests you is what’s in Us Weekly, it won’t hurt expand your intellectual horizons.  (Unless you’re a 10.  Then you will probably be forgiven for being shallow.  But if you’re a 10, you probably don’t have trouble attracting attention in the first place, so….)  This goes along with…
  • You need better social skills. Don’t expect other people to entertain you or keep the conversation going.  People get resentful when others expect them to do all the heavy lifting in a conversation.  Learn how to listen and how to ask questions that keep conversations afloat.  Also, make eye contact and learn how to give a good handshake.  Have a shortlist of conversation starters mentally on hand if you struggle with coming up with ideas.
  • You don’t go anywhere where you can actually meet single members of the opposite sex who are realistic marriage prospects. This ties into…
  • You want someone of a caliber you can’t realistically hope to attract. Age, wealth, looks, talents, intelligence, etc. are goods you bring to the mating table.  Don’t overestimate the value of yours.  If you’ve got a 5 face and a 20-lbs. overweight body, the charismatic, single, multi-talented church worship leader isn’t going to go for you, no matter how amazing a man of God he is or how good of friends you think you are…or how much your female friends encourage you to keep your hopes up because you are an amazing person.
  • You honestly haven’t met anyone who sparks with you even though you take care of yourself and have a good personality. This one is perhaps the toughest to deal with and has no easy solution.

Just remember – is everyone you know who is married drop-dead gorgeous and the Most Amazing Person Ever?  No?  Then there’s always hope for you.

Also, about Hollywood beauty and the images you see in film and on TV and in magazines:

It is true that Hollywood, the primary American cultural arbiter of beauty, has rather narrow standards.  It is rare to find a principal actress in a movie or television show who exceeds a size 6, tops (the exception being actresses who play “types” or are there mainly for body image affirmative action – but even these women, for the most part, aren’t bigger than the average American woman, who is a size 12 or 14, depending on which poll you use).  But Hollywood is a manufactured fantasy world, with its inhabitants carefully selected to fit within certain parameters, at least on the screen.  This extends right on down to the extras; it is rare for even the background actors in a typical production to be obese or objectively unattractive, on the whole.  In the real world, you will not find a general population ever to be as good-looking as the people of a Hollywood production.  So with that in mind, it’s really pointless to compare yourself to the people in a movie or TV show.  Those few people were selected out of hundreds or even thousands to fit specific needs demanded by the script, director, and/or producers.  Real life isn’t like that.

The thing is, men know this.  They have eyeballs and can tell that the women that surround them in everyday life are not Jessica Alba, Megan Fox, Charlize Theron, Halle Berry, or any of the little pretties on CW shows.  Yet somehow these men manage to date and get married to regular women, so they can’t be that picky about looks.  If every man held out for a 10, hardly anyone would be married.


11 Responses to “Blaming current ideals of beauty.”

  1. Josh June 21, 2010 at 10:27 pm #

    Well said.

    I would add, or perhaps emphasize, the importance of acting in a feminine manner. It is deeply programmed in men to respond favorably to women who act like women. Speaking softly, moving with deliberate grace, good posture. Beyond that, a gentle and generous spirit. In the long term, the second is more important, but to form the initial attraction, the first is more important.

    Women who act like men will be treated like men. And men do not treat other men very well.

  2. Joyce McBride June 22, 2010 at 9:57 am #

    Of course, you are right about rational men not expecting to get a Hollywood model for a wife, but men dream. It’s not that they want to marry one, they just want to rent one for the ride. No, you’re right. It’s all about me not being indadequate, not pretty enough, not perky enough, not pleasant enough to compete with his fantasies or ego. It’s about HIM settling for ME.

    Have you ever sat across the table with a man at a restaurant and watch as they turned their heads to gaze at the waitress’ butt as she walked past? Or to have a man say, “Look at that waitress over there! She looks like you did before you exploded.”

    I am a mature, devoted Christian, so I don’t go to the casinos and bars to find Christian men, can’t remember how to dance, consider flirtation ludicrous, so what’s up with that? Because its all about families in churches, they typically cut mature singles loose to fend for themselves. Oftentimes we’re sitting in pews near each other and don’t even know who we are. Once a single manages to find someone there are all kinds of activities and counsel on how to be happy though married.

    There are many ways to be lonely. I was married to a man I loved for two decades. I “settled” for this man because I was, at age 25, desperate to become Mrs. Somebody, Anybody. He was not a Christian, 10 years older than me, and we didn’t share the same values or interests, but we were a respectable family. That marriage taught me the dull ache and hopelessness of marital loneliness.

    He finally left me, and ten years later I fell IN love, head over heels crazy in love, with a married man. So this is what all the love songs are talking about! I lost maybe 20 pounds simply because I forgot to eat or buy food. I was high on love. All I could think about was him and feel euphoric joy and HOPE. But of course, as the reality of the situation set in, that joy quickly became exquisite pain. So the second man taught me that bitter reality that you can’t choose whom you love, but you can choose what you do with it. I would never be HIS Mrs. Somebody, I’m be his whore, no whores get paid, so not even his whore. The passionate loneliness of being “IN love” with someone you can never have, of watching them love someone else, became excrutiatng.

    Right now my heart is a smoldering ruins. My only revenge I can think of is to someday fall IN LOVE with someone of my ilk who cherishes and respects me as much as I cherish and respect him. Someone who will love and care for me as I would love and care for him long past the point of sexual performance. Someone who will look at me and see MY beauty as I see his. Until then, I refuse to be bitter or to settle. My goal is to be IN LOVE with life, to embrace it to the fullest. Someday, should I find a man alongside me enjoying the same things, I’ll deal with this.

  3. Thursday June 22, 2010 at 6:57 pm #

    You honestly haven’t met anyone who sparks with you even though you take care of yourself and have a good personality

    Evangelicals, both male and female, who are genuinely intelligent and cultured often do find it very hard to find someone who is both reasonably attractive and compatible with them. They are a minority of a minority. They will often eventually notice a significant gap between their dating market value within and without the church. (Compound this with extreme female pickiness and it is no wonder you see a lot of attractive, intelligent Christian women who have had no boyfriend by the time they are 30.)

  4. Aunt Haley June 22, 2010 at 10:49 pm #

    Being intelligent is far more of a curse for a woman than it is for a man. It’s very tough on the ego to meet bright, interesting men…who are dating or married to bland, cute women.

    I can’t say that my DMV is really any higher outside of the church than within. I’ve gotten more IOIs on my looks from non-Christian men, but it hasn’t translated into any invitations for dates. I think part of it is that men can tell if you’re going to put out easily or not. If you’re not gorgeous, most of the time men will just move on to an easier target of similar looks ranking.

  5. Thursday June 23, 2010 at 1:28 pm #

    Being intelligent is far more of a curse for a woman than it is for a man.

    No, I can’t stress how false this is. A man usually needs some experience with women (BTW I don’t mean sex) to know how to act around them, when to make a move etc. A man who is, for whatever reason, set apart from the Evangelical mainstream through intellect or whatever will not gain that necessary dating experience. So, when someone who actually would be compatible with him comes along he won’t know what to do. He’ll probably just end up weirding her out at some point.

  6. Aunt Haley June 23, 2010 at 8:30 pm #

    Thursday, what you’re describing is social intelligence, not “brains.” An intelligent but socially awkward man at least can learn behavior and attitudes that will help him with the ladies – but how does a woman with big brains at all benefit? Brains don’t make her more popular with men, and they don’t make her more popular with women. All they do is help her get better grades in school.

  7. Jennifer January 31, 2012 at 9:32 am #

    A curse for a woman? Please. Only to some weaker men.

  8. Mark Slater February 2, 2012 at 12:49 pm #

    “A curse for a woman? Please. Only to some weaker men.”

    Now *that’s* my Jennifer. Very good.

    It’s true. Its like being a tall man: it can be a great advantage, or you may be a big clumsy oaf.

    It is the same, I would imagine, with highly intelligent women. She may use her smarts to her advantage while still being feminine, compliant, and fun; or she may be a humorless bookworm with her hair pulled back in a bun.

  9. Jennifer February 2, 2012 at 3:36 pm #

    LOL Thanks Mark :P And I agree completely. Intelligence must be had with grace, or things like philosophical ignorance, boorishness, pride and severe cynicism can result.


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