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So, women, why do we do it?

May 12th, 2004 · No Comments

I don’t read Tony Pierce but maybe I should: If Lisa Williams wants him to lead a discussion of women and blogging and Jay McCarthy calls him his hero, then at least I should go take a look at his blog. Yesterday Jay linked to Tony

los angeles and specifically hollywood is the only town other than possibly new york where you could seriously find a table of 3-4 extremely beautiful women who in their hearts are not happy with their looks and therefore unsatisfied with themselves because of some unattainable physical goal that theyve convinced themselves that can be reached.

the belief is, once theyve starved themselves into the size zilch lil black dress they will feel better about themselves, the men will come pouring out of the woodwork, the women will be jealous and envious, and everyone will want to either hire them love them or want to befriend them.


first thing women need to do is quit competing with other women. whats the point? and how does anyone know who won?


probably the most important thing that the modern woman needs to do is quit dating guys who flinch at cellulite, belly rolls, or wrinkles… theyre just going to dump you once you go up a dress size. …

finally the young women of america need to learn how to cook…if you dont want to eat breads and rices and beans and fatty foods, the best way to control it is to make healthy meals yourself and then feed them to your man who will be yours forever.

I disagree with Tony that New York and L.A. are the only places where you could find extremely beautiful women who are also unhappy. Maybe I have a different standard for “extremely beautiful” and I’m sure that these two cities are big magnets for lovely women, but I think that many (most) women, regardless of their looks or city of residence, feel they are failing to meet physical standards of perfection. Sure it’s more ironic to see pretty girls feel that way, but I think it’s sad for anyone to have those struggles.

But I agree that the size-zilch skinny-minnie ones are still miserable, and the obsession with slenderness consumes too much of most women’s lives.

When I was younger, when I looked in the mirror all I saw was what I wasn’t. What I didn’t have. All the pieces that weren’t perfect, from my face to my feet. I felt ashamed of myself at sixteen. Fat and unattractive. Now at twice that age, I realize what I had back then. Now when I see high school girls out walking on the island, hair in the wind, I see how pretty they are. Maybe none of them would be magazine models. But they are beautiful. I have thought about trying to tell them somehow, maybe yelling out the window, wacky middle-aged mama that I am: “do you know how beautiful you are?!” But they still wouldn’t believe me.

I love that Tony said women should stop the catty competing with each other. I guess I always thought all that makeup was for (attracting) men. I don’t wear it myself. I’ve still got the lipstick I wore at our wedding twelve years ago. Most of it. Along with several other tubes. Every other year or so it seems I buy a lipstick, wear it a few times, get that cosmetics craving out of my system, and then put it on the shelf. If you see me wearing the stuff, it must be a Special Occasion. Ditto for nail polish.

(Note: As I was writing up this post, I came across two other opinions by women on cosmetics:

Scheherazade writing about “Survivor”: “And I thought, almost universally, that the women who made themselves up and put on “fashionable” outfits looked much, much worse.”
Joanne Jacobs: “The use of makeup among ninth-grade girls is inversely correlated to their dedication to schoolwork”.)

The size zilch ideal has tempted me though. I’ve been consumed by it at times. Too much. Counted cookies. Counted calories. Hated myself for how fat I thought I was. I’ve wandered down that road and taken that temptation. Makeup has never mattered much to me, but how my clothes look on me has. I thought for sure I’d have to live a life of starvation just to stay married. You can never be too rich or too thin. Ted through time has proven to me that my fears weren’t true. And Tony’s words confirm it too.

But I thought men like their ladies lacquered in Estee Lauder and zipped into some zilch size black dress. Are we women doing all this just to compete with other women, and with some image of perfection we’ll never attain?! Why do we do it to ourselves?

(Note: As I wrote in this post, there may be scientific evidence that “women may instinctively use catty comments as a weapon in the dating game” based on hormonal cycles. Perhaps this competition is something we are doing to ourselves, based on our biology.)

What’s important? In Tony’s post, he says that a woman should learn to cook…and acquire, um, other skills to attract men. What appeals to him seems to be an appeal to certain organs. The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach…and other bodily regions…What about a woman who appeals to a man’s mind? Or emotions? Soul?

Well, since I already have a man, I’m not too concerned with what Tony thinks. He is only one man. I have my own and he’s the only one I want to please. After fifteen years with Ted, I think I have some idea what is important to my husband and what he likes. I can always ask him…or do some research…!

I do like Tony’s honesty. I like how he tells women not to bother with men who “flinch at cellulite”. I think there is truth there. I like how he tears apart what women think is important, this unattainable image of Skinny Girl. I think he gives freedom from this crazy hamster wheel, always running to have the best purse, the best cosmetics, the best dress, the best body, all to get the best man….

I told Ted about Tony’s post and tonight we read it together on his monitor.
“Is it about competition with other women or attracting men?” I asked Ted.
I wanted to know what HE thought – do men(okay, in this case, Ted) really want these little black dresses and Revlon wrappings? Do men care about this stuff? Or why do we women do all this?
My question launched us into a little discussion about sizes and measurements, about competition, about our histories.
I made some out-of-character catty remarks about someone else who used to be in Ted’s life. Of course I was just teasing. Really. I was.

Ted caught it: “Well, then it is about competition, isn’t it?!”

Tags: marriage