To Get A Man, Do You Have To Be Beautiful?

Does she think beauty helped her get a man?

The photo in this post is a common example of what we see on TV and in magazines as idealized feminine beauty: slim body, pretty face, and a good-looking guy who’s obviously intrigued with her. Most of us don’t realize how the deluge of subconscious messages we receive daily affects the way we feel about ourselves. The media continually reminds us that we need to lose those extra pounds, have perfect teeth, beautiful skin and hair, and be sexy to get a man.

Beauty’s only skin deep

Like many women, I was told by my mother that beauty’s only skin deep and I passed it on to my own daughter. I taught her that real and lasting beauty is what’s inside you and who you are as a human being. That all sounds good, but the daily bombardment of messages we get about what is beautiful, overpowers those maternal clichés. This is especially true when it comes to beliefs about how to get a man.

I’ve always believed in trying to look my best, but it’s only been in the past decade that I recognized my own addiction to looking “perfect,” not only for men but for women too. Then I woke up to reality and grasped how impossible that goal is to reach. How can I be universally perfect and beautiful to every man on earth?

As a light-skinned woman of bi-racial African American parents, I was exposed to concepts of beauty in both white and black culture. I also finished high school and worked for two years on Okinawa, an island off Japan, where I discovered more varied perceptions of beauty. Okinawa was a melting pot of Chinese, Japanese, Philippine, and other Asian ethnic groups. In getting to know these people in a place where I was the minority, I broadened my perspectives of physical attractiveness and focused more on the similarities and distinctions in the various cultures, as well as our inner beauty as human beings.

Eyes of the beholder

From these life experiences, I learned that beauty truly is in the eyes of the beholder, and not separated by race or culture. As it is with me, the intermixing of the various races and groups made racial differences almost imperceptible in many cases. I saw how much I have in common with all of these cultures:
• how we love our families and children
• how we like to joke and laugh at many of the same things
• how we treat other people, enjoy food and entertainment
• how we celebrate special days
• how we want to be loved by a partner

Universal beauty

How can there be a universal standard of beauty when we’re all so unique? I came to the conclusion that we must move beyond surface attributes and look into the eyes and hearts of others to see who they really are. This is also true about our self-perception in our quest to get a man who loves us and sees beauty in us just the way we are.

It was such a relief for me to finally recognize that there is no such thing as a universal standard of beauty. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be many couples or marriages in the world. So why do so many people accept the bony, heavily made-up, air-brushed versions of women as the universal standard?

Fight back

I have to say I didn’t have much respect for the celebrity Jessica Simpson until recently. She’s chosen to fight back against the cruel paparazzi and media who’ve labeled her as fat. She’s on the cover of the May 2010 issue of Marie Claire magazine without any makeup. [] She’s donned short, sassy wigs to change her appearance from the current long-hair styles seen on most female celebrities. I love it that she’s been appearing on Oprah and other talk shows rebelling against Hollywood’s standards of beauty, even at the risk of damaging her career. She’s even created a wonderful new series on VH-1, The Price of Beauty, that examines differing ideals of beauty all over the world. You go Jessica!

I’m also impressed with the Dove beauty ads displaying more real women’s body types. There was also recent hubbub about the voluptuous, full-figured women in a Lane Bryant underwear TV commercial. It was initially rejected by producers of the popular Dancing with the Stars show as too suggestive. Excuse me!! The female dancers on DWTS are half naked, and some of the dance moves would require ordinary people to get a room. I’m far from a prude, but some of it simulates sex on the dance floor.

Media Control

Is the media now trying to tell us that being heavy in underwear is vulgar and being skinny is not? Have you seen the Victoria Secret commercials? Now that’s what I call provocatively seductive. I don’t know how you feel about the messages the media is sending to women and teenage girls, but I frankly am appalled at their power over our self-image, as well as what some men (not all or even most) are led to believe is attractive. Men feel the media pressures, too, on their own appearance.

Let’s get behind the Doves and Lane Bryant’s in the world and support companies who send positive messages and present realistic images of women. My point is that we have to be conscious of the effect media has on our self-esteem and standards for our appearance. We have to recognize that those are false standards designed to keep us feeling insecure, so we’ll continue to view celebrities as role models and buy more products.

Beauty is a surface attribute that is in the eyes of the beholder. Let’s not be blinded by the false images that keep us in the illusion of superficial beauty standards as the way to get a man. You can rebel against those standards by taking pride in your inner qualities and worth. There are plenty of men out there who want you to see their inner qualities too. I think paying more attention to those instead of surface aspects will lead to more fulfilling and lasting relationships.

What do you think? If you’re a Baby Boomer like me, this all sounds familiar, doesn’t it? We had this conversation in the early 1970s as part of that wave of feminism, and many advances were made on this topic. Sadly, most of them have been undermined in recent decades by the relentless force of commercialized female images. I’d love to hear your comments below.

Do Love and Life Differently:We need to create new models of beauty and redefine our perceptions of what beauty is; and commercialized models should be viewed as caricatures.

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