I once lived in a one bedroom basement apartment with my best friend. We had a small kitchen table without chairs and two mattresses on the floor, and that was pretty much it. Our living room was completely empty. We had nothing except a few dishes in the kitchen cabinets and a closet over-flowing with all of our clothes, bags and shoes. I’m not sure how we survived with so little, yet I would drop $50 on a half ounce jar of eye cream without thinking twice. A completely broke 20 year old girl buying anti-wrinkle cream. I’m certain I already had flawless skin, like most 20-something girls do, but I still spent a chunk of my paycheck on beauty products vs. food.
For a girl who grew up reading Seventeen magazine, the pages filled with perfect bodies and pretty smiles, not surprising at all.
And I am sure I wasn’t the only one.
And isn’t that how most girls think? We grow up believing that beauty is vitally important to our being. It defines us somehow. Life will be better/happier/easier/more fulfilling, more something, if you are prettier.
And you don’t have to accept it or agree with it. But that’s just the way it is. And that won’t ever change. We will never live in a world where beauty is not revered or desired. Not ever. So what choice do we have but to accept and embrace it?
Audrey Hepburn said “Happy girls are the prettiest girls.” Who coincidentally was one of the most perfectly beautiful women to have ever lived.
We are bombarded by messages telling us that beauty comes from within, and that being a good person is beautiful, and that true beauty is blah blah blah. But meanwhile, every man wants a Kate Upton. It’s all very confusing to a 12 year old girl, still learning about the world and trying to figure out where she fits in all of this.
And how do you teach that same 12 year old girl that inner beauty is more important than outer? Not an easy task.
And even with degrees in science and education on top of years spent trying to complete a Masters degree, I know that no amount of education will ever change the fact that I still want to be pretty, too. Because in this world, pretty is what everyone wants. Men want a beautiful woman on their arm (it’s a status symbol) and the prettiest girls find the most desirable mates. And any person- male or female- would be lying if they said they did not want to be more attractive. What person ever says “I want to be less attractive.” You can’t find that person because s/he simply does not exist. Because beauty is valued in our society. Period. Men want beautiful. And women completely fall into the beauty trap every single day.
It’s all a very ugly thing, when you really start to think about it.
An ex once told me “I would rather date a girl with a pretty face than one with a good body. Her face is the most important part.”
He’s not alone. Men can’t help it. They’re attracted to looks and the physical. And although women are attracted to good looks, too, it’s a fact that men rate a woman’s looks as the most important thing about her.
Men rate a woman’s looks as the most important thing about her. Worth stating twice, because wow. Wow and I think that explains quite a lot.
In a study done by Ask Men, men rated facial attractiveness as the #1 most desirable trait in a woman. Whereas, women rated intelligence, passion and a sense of humor in the top 5 qualities most desired in a man. And the importance of a mans looks to a woman was much lower at #9.
It’s no great mystery why women place such importance on how they look. It’s a competitive world out there and men are always searching for the next pretty face. Sure you’re pretty, but she’s really beautiful. And as beautiful as she is, that other girl is stunning. And men don’t think twice about leaving a beautiful woman for someone they consider to be more beautiful. It happens every day. So is it any wonder why women are continually trying to improve their looks?
I know a woman (in fact, an entire group of women) who have all spent thousands of dollars on surgery and injections trying to achieve “it”. One husband even commented to me that his wife no longer looks recognizable. Make that his ex-wife. They are now divorced so maybe that says something about that. I don’t know. And admittedly, if I had the means, I too might consider doing some of the same. But I don’t foresee becoming rich anytime soon, so I guess I will never find out.
In the meantime, the perfect blow out and a pedicure still make me feel pretty. I feel sexy in a great pair of jeans. And all that confidence translates into feeling attractive, which makes me feel good. So where is the wrong in that?
The problem is that there will always be someone better looking. And along with that comes the natural worry that he might leave you for someone “better.” Even if she is not actually “better” at all. My best friend- one of the most stunningly beautiful and smartest women I know- discovered her husband was cheating on her. And I’m not suggesting that men cheat only because they found someone more attractive. But the fact is men are always looking. Even if they never act upon it. And cheating is extremely common. So maybe it’s not such an irrational thing to worry about after all.
Maybe that’s just the way it is.
Feeling beautiful, looking beautiful and actually being beautiful are all very different things.
And genuine beauty has nothing to do with what you see in a magazine.
But yet, that will never change the fact that men will continue to seek exactly that physical, outward type of beauty. And therefore, women will continually strive to achieve it.
In the end, each person should do what they want. Do whatever you need to do to feel pretty and sexy and amazing and happy and beautiful.
And hopefully, one day you will meet someone so amazing in every sense of the word, that they will completely redefine your own perception of what makes a person beautiful. Suddenly, it’s not just about how they look, but it becomes about the way they smile, the words they say, the way they look at you and the way they make you feel. The same guy or girl that you once viewed as attractive, now defines beauty in every single sense of the word. And all you’ll be able to see is a person you can’t possibly imagine being without. Ultimately, that is what makes someone perfectly beautiful, above and beyond anyone else. And that is what I am going to teach my daughters.
You’re beautiful. Beautiful starting on the inside.
A touchy subject to reply to but will take a stab anyway (cause I like danger ha)
I think as I get older, at least for me, beauty is defined as more than physical appearance. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll gawk at any virtually any woman. Hate me for it if need be. I just think there’s beauty in people, especially women. But confidence, intelligence, independence and about a dozen other qualities, tangible and not-so-tangible, define that matrix of “beauty”. Good looks alone will never, ever carry the day. Will never sustain you.
I see no problem with women, or men, working to achieve physical beauty, just as they would spiritual or intellectual beauty. Everything in balance. And everything under the banner of self awareness, confidence and happiness.
I don’t really agree with cosmetic surgery, certainly not in excess or on a whim.
Thanks for your thoughtful writing on a difficult subject.
You and your thoughts are beautiful.
P.S. Audrey Hepburn is a pretty good gold standard of physical beauty.
great post! hmm, yeah we are certainly preoccupied on the wrapper. personally, i waffle between does her exterior beauty resonate on the inside with a loving heart, kind soul or does her stunning looks reveal her dark bitterness or superficiality when she opens her mouth to validate either…as a single guy, i find im attracted to a more natural look without all the glitz’n glitter, but it is nice no doubt…theres no escaping the eyes, however. if her eyes captivate’n mesmorize me, then theres no escaping her power…always great to read u MP