We all pretend it’s not there. It’s a given that women “should be” attractive.
We married at the age of 19. It was part of our culture in the day to rob from the cradle. I chose him when I was 18. He chose me the same year, at the same age. I never forgot his reason for choosing me. I never forgot how it did not bother me, because, you see even women don’t notice the dank smell of discrimination around us. The culture is saturated in it. Misogyny has become a “normalcy”. When he voiced why I was the person of choice, I took it as a compliment with complete disregard to my soul. He said he chose me because he looked at my mother. In her youth, forty years before, she walked the stage in beauty pageants. At the age of fifty, she looked fifteen years younger than she was. My soon to be husband told me that he wasn’t afraid to grow old with me because my mother aged so well in her looks. He was considering genetic cause and effect and how it would impact his pride in the future. During our slow and dismal time together, he decided I should not be seen in jeans and a t-shirt. I still mourn my baseball jersey I threw away to please him. If I were to line up every shirt I owned in the course of my six decades, that shirt was always my favorite. It was more comfortable, had more meaning, and announced who I was more than any I had ever owned. A ten year search on google has not afforded me anything even close to that jersey.
Needless to say, eventually, I changed as I evolved into my fifties and sixties. You see, one of the last things he said as he walked out the door is that he could never be with an unattractive woman. My fair skin reflects the sun in more ways than one. I haven’t grown any shorter, but those large eyes that were once so apparent are beginning to sink into a receding skull. Gravity is still doing its dirty deeds to the rest of my epidermis. In some ways, as all of us experience, time has given us grace. In other ways, time has no mercy. The impact of his lifelong demand for beauty comes back to me every morning as I look in the mirror. Every morning, I am glad I’m no longer with him because my age is beginning to show.
Is it true that men have no regard for the soul? How many women have to come to terms with this?
This patriarchy that we are immersed in is alive and well. Professor Philippe Rushton, the misogynist researcher slams the public with gross terms describing the preference men have for beautiful women. Rushton says, in one of his more tame statements, “Poor looks mean poor genetic quality and I think that’s why ugly women are reviled in almost every culture”. The biologist Richard Dawkins agrees. Reading the exact words of Rushton, it’s easy to see his hatred toward women. I couldn’t quote him without changing the audience of this post because his words are so gross. In respect to women, I’ll leave his words to himself. However, there is one thing that carries no opposition. The make-up industry, the cosmetic surgeons, the fashion industry, and everyone involved in advertising are shooting a straight and poison coated arrow into the fetish feminine beauty. It rules the universe.
It doesn’t always stop at women. A friend of mine and coworker, divorced 4 years ago. She is still single and unable to find even a runner up for a suitor. “No one is cute enough.” I hear it every day. Since when does the soul run dry of value? Some of the most beautiful people in the world are carrying around a less than attractive physical shell.
The reader might ask themselves if they should seriously indulge in such superficiality. Living with it, losing from it, and suffering the one-dimensional existence with this attitude of “beauty is everything”, received its proper burial in the bleakest narrows of my mind when my ex-husband left our home.
When I set out to find a person to truly grow old with, anything marking that he had a love for physical attractiveness and nothing more became a deal breaker. I set out to find a significant other who would look people in the eye and know how to see the soul. As a single, I dated some very attractive men. Coincidentally, I found one to be superficial, two to be inwardly focused, and one, avoidant to a crippling degree. For a short while I was with a man 15 years younger than my age. He could see the soul, but it was through the eyes of Peter Pan. I gave up. Then one day my daughter asked why I would not date a friend I had known for quite some time. She could see far beyond the blinds that I had erected over the years. My response was that I was finished looking for the “someone”. I felt as done as my statement. Her comeback was, “Well I think that’s too bad because he is the best man you’ve ever known.” I listened. I married him three years later. To this end I have to say, “Out of the mouths of babes.”
The defenses we put up can sometimes dismiss opportunities that may never come again. If we are guided by our soul and not the cultural expectation of beauty, we would live lives more in tune with meaning. If we live from the inside out, we kick turbulence out of the water. Whether we are on the top of the pyramid or in the middle, if beauty is an essential, then competition becomes the cement between us rather than a comradery.
Simply put, if looks are the measure, then what happens when we start to fade? Psychologically we, especially women, becomes less valuable as a person. The disrespect goes head on into the life of being lesser. When we are described in terms of our looks, it devalues the soul. Contrary to this, we grow wiser as we age. In direct proportion to our age, our soul shines golden. Honesty becomes an essential. Intelligence lengthens with the experience of living. You have grown spiritually, emotionally, and intellectually. Yet, the only thing that others judge you on are your looks.
The problem with a patriarchal society is in the dictates of men who are guided by hormones. Women aren’t so easily swayed, though they try to keep up with the dictates in a culture grounded in attraction. Women fall pry by making the cosmetic industry a multi-million dollar success story. Painting a mask on every day in order to stay with a youthful impression sabotages the value of soul. The thicker the mask, the less we see of the soul. When the eyes we look into are paint and the spirit is missing from the equation, our society takes on a superficial cheapness. One might ask if this is where we want our daughters to tread. There is beauty in the bearing of the soul without the curtains of a physical mask and disguise. How many of us have seen a soul struggle for some glimpse of light behind empty eyes while the outward attraction takes the breath away? On the other hand, how many of us have seen the radiance of a spirit within the shell of broken skin? Flesh and bone is merely the physical life going through a journey of lesser consequence, while the attraction of the soul is on a quest for eternal luminosity.