I can wish men weren’t visual, but after hating my looks all of my life, I can enjoy that, to the only man that matters, I’m perfect.
When it comes to relationships, men and women are wired differently.
Men are visual. Women are emotional.
I have dated my share of uglies because they sure could challenge me intellectually. They attracted my mind well before the rest of me.
This is socially acceptable. There are slews of men who date women who are far more physically attractive than them.
One of my friends asked me about a man I’d just started dating, “Is he handsome?”
“Not. At. All,” I told her.
“But he makes you laugh, right?”
“Ohhhh yeah,” I said. “He’s hilarious!”
“Sense of humor” is often the number one thing that women look for in a potential mate. Women often overlook a lot of physical imperfections for personality assets, especially if we are in love.
But the number one thing men are often looking for is “attractiveness.”
You lean over the bar to order a drink, and a guy glances your way to see you looking great. He’s drawn to you because a.) he wants to look at you up close.
He is, in no way, thinking, “Man, I wanna date that woman because she spent 40 of her non-working hours last week hassling politicians to change their views on reproductive rights!”
Once he comes over to get a closer look at you and he finds out you’re a human rights attorney or can belch the tune to “America the beautiful,” he’s hooked. If he then falls in love with you, he’s in for good.
But the order for men is still
Men first find you attractive and then they stick around because of your other qualities.
How many men would honestly say something like, “My wife looks like a hobgoblin had a baby with a fart, but she’s my favorite person to talk to?”
A man would never say that about a woman he loves.
When a man loves a woman, she is his Jennifer Aniston or Halle Berry or Selena Gomez. She is flawless. Beautiful in every way. She is his day-and-night Beyoncé.
A man has to be attracted to you to stay with you, so the fact that he loves you and is still with you means he’s stillattracted to you.
In many ways, this is actually assuring, a fact I didn’t really realize until I watched Iliza Shlesinger’s Netflix special Unveiled (It’s wonderful. Go watch it immediately.).
I felt unattractive for nearly my entire life. My mother was cruel and mean, calling me “fat” when I was 5'2 and 110 pounds, telling me that my thighs shouldn’t touch, my stomach needed to be flat, that she had been much more attractive on her wedding day than me on mine.
Her comments simply intensified all of the other mean comments I heard throughout my life.
When I was in college, a few men told me, “You’re prettier when I’m drunk.”
Friends told me, “If you’d just let me give you a makeover, some guy might want to date you.”
A boyfriend once told me, “Your calves are flabby, but I like them.”
The way women speak to and about other women often comes from their own sense of self-hatred and self-loathing.
The way men speak to and about other women comes from a system that focuses on objectifying women and having power over them. Some dating books geared toward men encourage and teach negative-complimenting (like the example above) called “negging.” You’ve got a little injured bird in love with you if you imply no one will ever want her other than you.
Women are expected to be beautiful, and we go to great and expensive lengths to be such. We diet and exercise. We pluck and wax and primp and lotion. We get implants. We get liposuction and botox. We tattoo our lips and eyelids with semipermanent color. We get microblading. We get electrolysis. We pay someone good money to sand our skin off. We try to obliterate our facial “flaws” with primer, concealer, foundation, photofinishing spray, etc. etc.
It took me decades to get over first my mother’s insults and the slew of later toxic comments to feel even moderately comfortable with myself.
Yet whenever I had a partner who loved me, he would say, “You don’t need to wear make-up. You’re naturally beautiful. You‘d look good in a garbage bag.”
And this is the rub after all of that exhausting work to look beautiful: if a man loves you, it doesn’t matter that you spent hours getting ready, that you don’t like your thick thighs, or you have another pimple — what is this, the second coming of puberty? —, that you now need to put cream on your “delicate eye area,” or that you just spent $400 on a cut, highlights, and lowlights.
It. Doesn’t. Matter.
He loves you. He thinks you’re beautiful. No matter what you do. No matter what you have or don’t have, have done or haven’t done.
You’re his archetype. His goddess.
Every time I look in the mirror and think, “Jesus, did someone take a dump on my face in the middle of the night?” my husband will look at me through his blind dumb glasses of love and say, “Honey, you’re so beautiful.”
I can wish all I want that men weren’t such visual creatures, but after nearly a lifetime of hating myself and how I look, I can enjoy the fact that, to the only man that matters, I’m perfect.