Another fabulous post from my husband Jen’s Guy. I think you are going to have something to say after reading it, so make sure to leave your comments below. He will get back to you.
I’m not going to STRONGLY recommend the article below because it is a little rougher than my usual reading, but I think it is a great place to start a discussion.
In the article, Ms. Phetasy reached out to a number of men to inquire “how much do you *actually* care about your significant other’s beach body?”
She received over 200 answers and summarizes:
But my limited, self-reported anecdotes support the idea that ultimately men care more about beauty as opposed to “hotness” than we are led to believe. Bret Weinstein and Heather Heying, former professors of evolutionary biology at Evergreen State College, have talked about the idea of “hotness versus beauty” on The Joe Rogan Experience. “At least for some men, it’s true that beauty and hotness are almost uncorrelated,” Weinstein argues. “There are people who have both traits, but I have no trouble seeing that image of the woman who is hot but not the least bit beautiful and I know lots of women who are beautiful and not hot.”
I have hundreds of quotes from men expressing this sentiment, and even more importantly, recognizing the superior significance of other traits like kindness, fidelity, resilience, intellect or childbearing and rearing in their mate.
I didn’t send in a response to Ms. Phetasy’s original inquiry, but I kind of wished I had. I’m just one guy, but I believe myself to be fairly representative of guys in general and want to share some thoughts with my wife and her readership. Because I am leery of this turning into a big wall of text, I will break it up into a few points.
Most, if not all, of the “body image problems” woman face today are ultimately NOT entirely the result of the “male patriarchy.”
You know who isn’t writing “Get your body swimsuit ready!” articles? Men. Mature men over the age of 25 (physically and mentally) understand the difference between form and functionality. In fact Men understand “Cosmo beauty” only in a general sense, in the same manner we understand “clean the house.” We will notice when something is completely out-of-whack, like a sink full of dirty dishes, but won’t see stuff like dust on the top shelf of the book case. Here is the ugly truth, as long as your eyebrows haven’t thickly grown together, a guy isn’t going to notice how well sculpted your eyebrows are. You could have an hour long conversation with a man, have someone pull him aside immediately afterward and ask him what color or style of shoes you were wearing, chances are, he won’t know. How about those high priced designer jeans and matching accessories? Most guys are OK with the yoga pants, unless it’s church or a funeral.
The vast majority of beauty “shaming” is done by other women. There are a few guys that will be vocal about the point, but they are probably really young, really inexperienced, and generally influenced by moronic outside opinion. Show me a guy watching along with a red carpet show and making catty remarks, and I will show you a terribly lonely dude with few prospects for friendship. And the news about cancelling the swimsuit competition in the Miss America pageant? Men haven’t watched that thing in three decades.
Guys are more turned on by how a woman feels about herself, than they are about how she looks.
It is vital that women understand this. If you want to drive your guy out to the garage to find something else to do, or an entire evening of playing Fortnight without you, dwell on how you are not measuring up to some standard. Guys would rather deal with the extra 10 pounds than having a woman spend 10 minutes every hour discussing how she needs to lose that 10 pounds.
Understandably, there is a chicken and the egg process that can cause depression or feelings of inadequacy to lead to problems with physical appearance. And I’m not saying that it is unreasonable for women to care about how they look. Confidence in her appearance likely makes a woman feel confident in herself. And yet, women need to give their men the benefit of the doubt. Guys know how Photoshop works. Guys know that aging and having children are going to change how a woman looks. If a guy notices that you are wearing Spanx when you take off your clothes, he is only generally going to care that you just took off your clothes. Every single time, it never gets old.
And this doesn’t just apply to husband and wife. It doesn’t take a teenage boy very long to discover that he’d rather spend time with a person he can talk to rather than just look at. In high school I remember that there were a number of “plainer” looking girls with outgoing personalities that dated a lot while some “prettier” girls who didn’t have much to say stayed home. This same situation only becomes more pronounced as men age.
Seriously though, give your guys the benefit of the doubt.
The trope of the “Seven Year Itch” is just a trope. I mean there are guys who will do moronic things and for the stupidest reasons, but rarely is it because they did these things based on physical attractiveness. Men value comfort and familiarity and will sacrifice a lot to keep it. This is why the grand majority of us continue to love the women who we have experienced so much with. From a man surveyed in the article:
My wife’s discomfort with her body really bothers her. She battles depression over it. Our biggest issue from it is that she doesn’t think I should be attracted to her, even though I am. Very much so. Would she be hotter if she got into better shape? Yeah. So would I. But I’m still always attracted to her, and if it were up to me, I wouldn’t keep my hands off of her. She struggles to feel sexy, so I try to be patient and let her know that I still think she’s sexy. I’m trying to make sure my daughters aren’t subjected to too much of that nonsense. My wife is my best friend and my partner in this crappy world. I hope that my daughters see that and want the same for themselves.
Yep, all of that. When a guy says that he finds you attractive, say thank you and believe him. If he is a stranger on a street corner, cross to the other side of the street. If he is the person committed to you, don’t dismiss his statement or give him the reasons you aren’t attractive. He is not lying to make you feel better, he is telling you the truth. You need to accept it, then accept yourself.
In summary, I realize that self image is something we all struggle with in our own ways. Guys are guilty of undervaluing themselves as well. I also understand that one article worth of therapy isn’t going to do much to overcome it. This needs to stop, though. And not in a way where we hire a few plus sized models for the next Maxim photo shoot and pretend that everyone has learned a lesson. This begins with a conversation with your loved one, with your family, and your friends. Basically anyone who truly cares for you. They are the ones you should look to for guidance. Only they matter. If they say you are enough, believe them. If they need to tell you every day, believe them every day until you believe it yourself. Once you believe it, so will almost everyone you meet.
The rest of them don’t matter.
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