Beauty, Obsession, Men, and Women

Is women’s obsession with beauty because of an intense desire to be attractive to men? And if so, is it a men’s issue?


Mark D. White wrote a post today that gives an honest look at a guy struggling to understand a woman’s relationship to beauty, and how he, as a guy, should talk to her about it. Compliment her looks? Her intelligence? But why—when the woman he was dating was so smart, successful, creative—why did she seem to place such value in being complimented on her looks above all?

Commenter Trev, below, actually helped me articulate my argument, and that is this: Women are not honest about how important being attractive to the opposite sex is. And that causes a breakdown in communication between men and women. And that’s why it’s worth discussing.

I cannot comment about what men think. I don’t even want to over-generalize and pretend to know what all women think. But this topic is a source of much fascination to me (not to mention angst), and so I would like to tell you my worldview. In fact, my observations come from what can only be described as an obsession.

Women would rather be dead than seen as not beautiful.

Sometimes I talk to my girlfriends about aging. After a while, I noticed a pattern—without any hesitation, they all said, “Oh, no, I don’t want to get old. No, thanks, I’d rather be dead.” So then I started asking the question farther and wider, and I got pretty much a unanimous verdict. Women would rather die early than get old enough so they weren’t beautiful any more. Even women who didn’t necessary believe that for themselves fully understand the sentiment.

I am not being critical of men here, not in the least. It is not wrong to want beauty in one’s life—however you define that, wherever you find it. But if men are wondering why it’s difficult to get the conversation around beauty right when talking to women—this is how I see it.

The other example of “death before beauty” is eating disorders. The experience I have found is that almost every woman who has an eating disorder has it because she has an unnatural fear of being seen as unattractive by the opposite sex. That would be about an estimated 65 percent of the female population. In fact, some studies show the mortality rate associated with anorexia nervosa is 12 times higher than the death rate associated with all causes of death for females 15-24 years old. The suicide rate of that age group with anorexia is 32 times the norm. The conclusion I draw is that women are so worried about being seen as unattractive by men that they can’t eat—even if it ultimately causes irreparable harm.

Brains may be important, but beauty is seen as the cost of entry.

Tom Matlack wrote what I thought was a very thoughtful piece a while back: “Women We Love for the Wrong Reasons.”

His point was that men loved women for much more than beauty: “Yes, good men love women. But we love women in all their complexity, for the things they do, for their intelligence, their wit, their athleticism, their creativity, their power, their force of personality.”

And yet, when this was cross-posted on Jezebel, Tom got lambasted for implying earlier in his post that women, as one commenter said “must be both beautiful AND smart. I mean, what if you’re ordinary looking and smart?” Many responded with a fair amount of vitrol, but some with humor: “Oh, need we be hot also? That takes a lot of time away from my intellectual activities. Plus, a lot of hot-making activities are pretty boring. Can’t it be enough that I’m clean?”

The anger from so many women was the implication that beauty was somehow a cost of entry to even be noticed. And in Mark’s piece, he reinforces that sentiment, “Like I said, a difficult line to walk, especially for men who respect and admire women for their brains and their beauty.”

Beauty gives women privileges they wouldn’t otherwise have.

Yesterday, one of our commenters on this post said, “If Tiger had have taken a golf club to his wife because she cheated would you be describing him as ‘super smart and beautiful?’ No, that would make him a criminal.”

I happen to agree.

Men rarely use the world “beautiful,” except when talking about women.

This was one of those things I noticed decades ago and kept looking for an example to disprove my theory. The only seeming exception was when men were talking about a “beautiful” play in sports.

But all the things that I, as a woman, think are beautiful—art, far-off galaxies, kindness, a street performance, a complex mathematical equation that makes me go “ah”, a thunderstorm, poetry, a strategic business plan, a hurricane lamp made from a coffee can with holes punched in it—none of those has ever brought about the word “beautiful” from a guys, certainly not with the awe-filled tone of voice that I hear when they talk about a beautiful woman.

Personally, as a woman, that puts enormous pressure on me—to be constantly worried that I am the only source of beauty other than the woman next to me who is (without a doubt) more beautiful than I am.

I am not being critical of men here, not in the least. It is not wrong to want beauty in one’s life—however you define that, wherever you find it. But if men are wondering why it’s difficult to get the conversation around beauty right when talking to women—this is how I see it. And maybe the way to have the conversation be so less charged with peril is for all of us to simply expand our vocabulary about what beautiful really is.


Read Mark D. White’s article “Beauty or Brains: Which is More Important to Emphasize?” here.

More by Lisa Hickey

Forgiveness is Macho

Why I’m Social Media Promiscuous

About Lisa Hickey

Lisa Hickey is CEO of Good Men Media Inc. and publisher of the Good Men Project. "I like to create things that capture the imagination of the general public and become part of the popular culture for years to come." Connect with her on Twitter.


  1. I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t care about how they look, so I have to say that the comments that say “I don’t get it” don’t really seem to jive with me. Yes, to speak of anorexia and the preference of dying over aging may be extreme examples, but this is a very real and life-long issue for a lot of women. Myself, I’m confident, independent, and self-sufficient (even self-employed), and I have always enjoyed nice compliments about my looks, so I don’t think there’s really an issue there, even though I look at my late 30’s emerging lines on my face with disdain. And I’ve never gone a day since adolescence that I haven’t worried about my weight (which is average)- wanting to be better, always wanting to lose weight – and if there is some way I can save my daughter from that misery I would give anything – anything!!! I do what I can to promote a positive self image, all of the right things, but I can’t save her from society and how we put perfect women on a pedestal. It’s really a sad state if you ask me.

  2. I’m not sure it’s a question of being accepted – I think it has more to do with not being invisible – at any age. We live in a crowded world – and the only way not to feel like just one more ant is to be seen by other people. And it’s a fact that so-called beautiful people are ‘seen’ more than those with less attractive faces. However, a smile can make a big difference in this regard. My 91 year-old mother (still wishing she was better looking) makes it a game to smile at people in the street and see how many people smile back. Not a bad game, at that.

  3. I’ve noticed that men use the word “beautiful” rather arbitrarily when it comes to women. A”beautiful” play in sports is pretty objective – any spectator would likely agree with what the man saw. However, when it comes to women “beautiful” can be really subjective and also men most often say it to prove to other guys that they are heterosexual. A “beautiful” woman (as defined by Proctor and Gamble, Vogue or Playboy) is a useless entity if she wants nothing to do with the man admiring her, he’ll suddenly find a litany of insults to describe her then. Rich men want model-worthy looks to prove their success – the woman has to match the sports car, the penthouse, whatever, kind of like a pedigree or designer dog. Is it healthy to aspire to be that object?

  4. Is it men who make women obsess about their appearance? Is it other women who make us feel bad? Interesting question, but not the whole story anyway. To paraphrase Eleanor Roosevelt: no one can make you feel ugly without your consent.

  5. The perception of beauty is a moral test for us men, What a
    “Man” finds to be beautiful is usually a reflection of his heart interiority.
    I for one have seen that what fades with time is just usually the illusion that the flesh
    Is what can constitute real love between two and women are imature persons who are both at arms defeat and arms poised against each other.

  6. Anonymous Female says:

    One place this obsession begins is in the peer dynamics of adolescent girls. A lot of teen girls are terrified of being labeled “stuck up” or something similar. If you show that you are too confident or accepting of your appearance, others may try to tear you down or shun you. You will be branded as the one who thinks she’s better than other people. It’s easier to fit in if other girls hear you insult a few things about your own appearance, so they know that you’re one of them. But don’t go too far, or you’ll be too depressing.

    And, when you hear other girls who are clearly attractive who feel bad about their appearance, you think, “wow, if she isn’t good-looking enough, then what hope do I have?” Being self-critical is one of those things that fashionable teens make fashionable.

  7. “The experience I have found is that almost every woman who has an eating disorder has it because she has an unnatural fear of being seen as unattractive by the opposite sex.”

    I have to strongly disagree with this statement. As someone who is now recovered from an eating disorder and does a lot of research and writing on this issue as well as conversing with others who are currently going through an E.D. or who have recovered like myself, rarely is the reason for one’s eating disorders simply to become ‘more attractive to men’.

    An eating disorder is a manifestation of a deeper inner issue (or issues) that go much deeper than “I want to be seen as beautiful when walking down the street”. It can be a response to abuse or another form of trauma, or a way to express self-hatred that is also rooted in deeper issues than “I hate my thighs”. People (and I say ‘people’ because both women AND men struggles with EDs) turn to eating disorders for the same reasons they turn to drugs or alcohol or any other form of addiction – it is a way of coping that ends up becoming a deadly trap that is very difficult (though not impossible) to get out of.

    I do really appreciate this article – but I couldn’t help but comment on the paragraph about eating disorders as I felt it was an unfair representation of what they truly are.

  8. AnonMidwestGirl says:

    Don’t blame men for women’s desire to be beautiful, and their insecurities because of it. Other women have done far more damage to my self esteem. Now, almost 30, I have no close girlfriends unless my sister (and a couple of her friends who I’m friendly with, but not close) and my mother count. Haven’t since high school, my best friends are and always have been guys. I have female acquaintances, but no one I’d call close. I can actually have meaningful conversations with my guy friends – the girlfriends I have had in the past, it all ended up being gossip. Women are FAR more critical of each other and their looks than men are – I have read numerous times that women will go to more trouble to “dress up” for each other than for a man, and I really think that’s true. A lot of men don’t care for too much makeup. Women are the ones wearing orange lipstick because it’s “on trend” for the season. Men don’t care if your shoes are by Jimmy Choo or if they’re imitation faux leather pumps from Target. If your jeans cost $200 or $30. If you scrubbed and painted your own toenails or if you went to a salon spa and paid someone $60 to do it for you. Women do it for each other. The thing that makes people the most attractive? Confidence. You can tell when someone is truly comfortable in their own skin. It’s in the way they speak, the way they move, and yes, the way they look. They just feel “right” like they’re not trying to be something they’re not, by wearing clothing that doesn’t suit them, or having a “forced” personality that isn’t who they truly are – you can see it in their face. The best thing you can do for yourself is learn to love yourself the way you are. There’s nothing wrong with always trying to be better, but once you can appreciate the little things about yourself, it’s amazing how your view of the world changes.

  9. I find this article sad and sexist. Yet once more it’s not women’s problem to take responsibility for themselves, but men’s duty to change and be what women want.

    The correct answer to this problem is not to offload it onto men, it’s for women to accept their own need to be perceived as beautiful and stop belittling each other for caring about finding love and partnership. Humans are human; we all notice beauty and we all need love. Making the best of your chances in the mating game is common sense. It’s the profound insecurity attached to that process by women which is the issue here, and ultimately, insecurity can only be the problem of the people who experience it. Women are not insecure about their value to men, they are insecure about their value as compared to other women. Yes, women are unspeakably vicious in competition over beauty and the status it confers, and that likely contributes to the insecurity they feel. But men cannot put an end to a conflict they are not involved in, any more than Helen of Troy could put an end to the war that was started over her. It is for you, ladies, to grow a little yourselves, and see your viciousness for what it is.

  10. Anonymous Male says:

    I wonder if anyone else has noticed a paradox that comes up a lot when discussion women’s beauty and men’s reaction to it. I don’t think Lisa’s piece says anything like this, but it seems to come up a lot when talking about women trying to look good for men. The paradox goes like this:

    On the one hand, men are super particular about the kind of women they are attracted to. We men have totally unrealistic expectations about how average women should look, and we hold to this standard even in the face of evidence to the contrary. We are brainwashed to be only interested in women found on magazine covers, on runways, and in porn movies. Virtually all women fall far short of our exacting standards.

    On the other hand, we men are ravenous, indiscriminate sexual opportunists. We will hook up with anything with an average of 2.01 legs. We are easily distracted by almost any woman who walks by, and we frequently “cheat down,” i.e., cheat on our partners with people who are less attractive or generally have less to offer than our current partners. In fact, I would guess in most cases men who step out on their relationships don’t leave for someone younger and more attractive, but more likely a “lateral” move or worse. (Tiger Woods, bless his heart, seems like a great example of this. Elin was simply not gorgeous enough, so he cheated on her with more attractive women? Sorry, I don’t see that, no offense to those charming young ladies.) You can’t trust us to be alone with any woman even remotely attractive because we will be easily tempted.

    So, we are too discriminate and not discriminate enough. We have high standards and are total opportunists.

    If these are both true, how do we navigate all this?

    • Lisa Hickey says:

      That is a great point, Anonymous Male! (am I allowed to call you that?). I totally agree that’s a problem. We will write a post about that — or maybe even just use your comment as a conversation starter. thanks!

  11. “Women would rather be dead than seen as not beautiful.”

    I’m a man and I would rather be dead than poor.

    You think I’m exaggerating and trying to relate to you, etc, but this is the truth for me.

    Death doesn’t scare me at all, but being poor is terrifying. Fortunately there are ways to die that are cost-effective and free, hahaha.

    And no, I’m not suicidal as I have a great life.

  12. Feels Like the Ugly Duckling says:

    I spend 90% of my time thinking about how unattractive I feel. Another 5% of that is thinking about how wonderful it must feel to be one of the beautiful people. The remaining 5% I’m asleep. I have never felt beautiful or attractive, although I have been told that I am. I lack confidence terribly but have learned to fake it quite well. I truly feel that if I looked in the mirror and saw a beautiful face, I would be confident. However, I am intelligent and successful in my own right; I would throw all of that away to feel beautiful. My relationships have always suffered because no matter how much my current boyfriend would tell me how beautiful he finds me, I would find ways to negate it. I think Antonymous Male’s comment about men being too discriminate and not discriminate enough is very insightful and correct. I’ve often wondered why men “cheat down” and have seen many men see a woman from behind only and at a distance and immediately deduce that she’s “f***ing hot”, whereas a woman would never say that (or rarely) about someone they couldn’t get a close analytical look at. I also agree with many of the posters here that women are far, far more critical of women’s looks than men are. I think men would give a much broader range of women that fall into the attractive curve than women would. I frequently think that other women are far better looking than me. It is exhausting and depressing, but I cannot seem to stop doing it.

    • It all begins with self-love. And for this to happen, you have to change your thinking, your beliefs about yourself and your negative self-image. Even if you were beautiful, it is not going to last. And then what? What does last is brains, knowledge, curiosity, character, achievements, the love you give to others, real friendships. Be authentic, know thyself, as the wise Socrates said. We are such a shallow society, rarely bothering to look beyond appearances. You will find that the less you fixate on yourself and look outwards, the happier you will be.

    • Thank you for your honesty, Erika!
      I hope you will find a way to allow the praise you receive from then men who find you beautiful to sink into where you really live. Even just reading what you wrote, I am already convinced you are beautiful.
      I also agree with your observation that women are often more critical of other women’s appearance than men are. The painful hypercriticism with which women view themselves and other women seems to me to a symptom of some kind of arrested psychological development, in which young teenage girls have their closest relationships with their girlfriends, rather than w/ boys.
      By contrast, it does seem to me that in the great big world outside of middle school, many men view a broad range of women as attractive and desirable.

    • Meant to post this here, not below:
      Your comment is awaiting moderation.
      Thank you for your honesty!
      I hope you will find a way to allow the praise you receive from then men who find you beautiful to sink into where you really live. Even just reading what you wrote, I am already convinced you are beautiful.
      I also agree with your observation that women are often more critical of other women’s appearance than men are. The painful hypercriticism with which women view themselves and other women seems to me to a symptom of some kind of arrested psychological development, in which young teenage girls have their closest relationships with their girlfriends, rather than w/ boys.
      By contrast, it does seem to me that in the great big world outside of middle school, many men view a broad range of women as attractive and desirable.

  13. Peter Houlihan says:

    Thats a fantastic article, thank you for sharing.

    Also, its always nice to see a gender article from either side that doesn’t go down the road of “the other gender never has it this bad.” I think if more feminists and masculinists were able to write like this we’d find out how much we have in common

    Heh :) firefox is trying to correct masculinist as a spelling mistake, but not feminist, clearly mozilla are misandric.

    I’m going to try and keep track of how much I use the term “beautiful.” I use it a bit, mostly for visual artwork or landscapes. I tend to use other adjectives for code or formulas or films. I suspect the reluctance could come from the idea that “beautiful” is a very emotional word. Possibly women are more permitted to admit to being moved by art and such other things that “real men” never go near?

    Just thinking about it, I have heard beautiful used *alot* by men to describe boats, which are traditionally considered female in western european culture (though not Slavic for some reason). Other uses I can think of are:
    -The grain in wood
    -Flavour of wine
    -Physical skill (such as driving or the sports techniques you mentioned)

    Maybe its a different set of cultural values for men as well? Men being more likely to comment on the beauty of things they’re interested in. Working from the assumption I made above that men are reluctant to express emotion in front of other men, I think expressions of beauty are limited to “safe” areas that other men are also likely to feel emotional about. I also have a feeling men are more likely to make such observations in the company of a few other men, rather than women.

    Thanks again for the article :) Got me thinking.

  14. Anon-Young Female says:

    I did not have time to read through all of the comments above, so I apologise in advance if this was already addressed. I am shocked at the simplicity that you use when discussing eating disorders, “The experience I have found is that almost every woman who has an eating disorder has it because she has an unnatural fear of being seen as unattractive by the opposite sex.” This idea dismisses the seriousness and complexity of what an eating disorder is. In fact, in my experience although there may be common stories, rarely are any two sufferer’s experiences and root causes for the disorder the same. In the context of the post I find it particularly alarming as it is misleading for many men who are in relationships with woman who suffer from disorders and may feel disempowered and frustrated by not being able to be a supportive/loving enough partner to dispel that myth. I am no expert in this field outside of my own experiences and truth be told I am having a hard time verbalising exactly why this sentence jumped out at me the way it did, however I felt it important to mention.

  15. “Men rarely use the world “beautiful,” except when talking about women.”

    Do you have empirical–as opposed to merely anecdotal–data to back up this contention? Perhaps I’m an outlier, but I use (or think) the word “beautiful” in connection with a whole host of sensory phenomena, including but not limited to the sensation of a beautiful woman knocking on my sense door .

  16. Men are visual, more so than women, when it comes to mating. It is one of the psycho-biological imperatives of being male — gay or straight or betwixt and between. The challenge for men is to move past the imperative and move into the realm of conscious choice. Desire, of course, knows no reason, and we will be attracted to those we are attracted to whether or no it seems fair to the world at large.

    I suspect that the unfair advantage beauty gives to both men and women is universal. We can rage at a lack of justice in it, insist that it is merely the product of western materialism being forced on other cultures, but literature and oral traditions from around the world repeat again and again the desirability of a beautiful spouse or lover. And have how beauty and desire can beget love.

    The search for beauty, the desire to be with one someone beautiful, is an ancient one and we had best accept that it is a part of what makes us human, dogma be damned.

    • Lisa Hickey says:

      I agree — except — it seems unfair somehow. Like all other unfair advantages are called to task and people actively make changes to try to erase those. But with beauty it seems like “oh well, if you’re not beautiful you lose”. I’m a little harsh maybe, but not much. It’s a big reason why I think older people are marginalized, and so it has everything to do with agesim also.

      • Dear Ms. Hicks,
        I am generally impatient with complaints about what is and is not “fair.” We may wish matters of all kinds were more fair. However, in my experience and observations, too, fair is a concept that applies mostly to board games and sports, but not as much or as often to life.
        In the real world, we are all contending regularly with a range of advantages and disadvantages, too, that have nothing at all to do with what is or is not “fair.”
        Physical beauty, like money, is in some ways an advantage, regardless of how one comes to possess this advantage.
        However, when it comes to what is regarded as physical “beauty,” we ought to realistically consider the role that marketing plays — whether it is professional marketing or merely social interactions and the influence of our own self esteem and self confidence: how we and those we know market us and others we know — in shaping views of who is or is not physically “beautiful.”
        Without any doubt, the experience of being deeply loved and valued helps everyone to feel more beautiful. An abiding sense of being valuable and lovable, a sense of being beautiful, can also influence a person’s physical manifestation of beauty.
        I am also aware that many women feel valuable and worthy only because of successful conformity to an arbitrary standard of physical beauty. Conversely, other people feel unlovable and unworthy — and can also be regarded by those around them as such — if they do not conform to that arbitrary standard of physical beauty. Too often, people are regarded as being less than, in fact, they are because they do not compare favorably to the arbitrary standard of physical beauty.
        However, feelings of self loathing and worthlessness — or, similarly, the experience of being hated or ostracized by a group — can also negate the advantages of physical beauty.
        Women’s historic (and perhaps enduring) role of pleasing — in various ways – men, who are traditionally more powerful than women, is surely related to the overemphasis that both women and men place on women’s physical appearance.
        At the same time, women who are generally regarded as sexually attractive are often also regarded as less intelligent than women who are viewed as less physically attractive.
        My views on physical beauty may be a little unusual because of the decades I spent in the performing arts, as a ballet dancer. That experience — from a tender age — exerted a tremendous pressure to conform to an artificial and arbitrary physical aesthetic.
        However, I hold no resentment whatsoever towards the demands the ballet aesthetic placed on me in my earlier years. Instead, I continue to find that aesthetic to be very beautiful in many varied, complicated ways that are physical and much more, too.
        In part, however, the experience of being measured continually to the ballet aesthetic gave me a strong sense of how, in fact, malleable the human body is.
        By contrast, I have observed how young teenage girls often develop a fairly static, even a rigid perception of themselves as either beautiful or not, when, in reality, their bodies can and likely will continue to change, even change dramatically, throughout their lives.

  17. I don’t think it’s really men that put the pressure on weight, I have always thought women are the ones that add that pressure on to each other. When I was a size 12 men were telling me how sexy I was and my girlfriends were asking if I had tried SlimQuick.

  18. HidingFromtheDinosaurs says:

    As a man, I don’t believe I have used the word beautiful in describing another human being in the past ten years. Compared to Ship Rock silhouetted against the desert stars or a bronze by Rodin or the few off a mountain top it just doesn’t seem right, somehow. That’s not to say I don’t find the other people beautiful, it’s just a very different feeling and it doesn’t feel right lumping it together under the same word. I don’t know, maybe I’m just crazy.

    As far as weight concerns go, especially with anorexia, I don’t believe men are providing the impetus for that one. I and all of my heterosexual male friends find women of a healthy weight far more attractive and I’ve never heard a man express appreciation of an anorexic figure. I think the problem there comes from the increasing use of computer graphics in creating the images which serve as our standards of beauty. The standard being unachievable is nothing new, but it now looks much more convincingly possible than it ever did before (everyone excepts a statue or a painting as an idealization, but most people view these images as simple photographs without thinking of the degree to which they’ve usually been doctored), and I think that gives a lot of people the idea that if they just worked a little harder at it they could look like the people in that movie or that ad.

  19. Let me point out that even being beautiful…you can still be obsessed by it.

    I’m fairly beautiful…to myself and others. And I catch myself alot gazing in mirrors admiring myself. But it’s not a loving gaze…it’s more like a power trip. Like a “I feel so insecure, but I’m so beautiful that no one will notice” look. I’m sort of addicted to it. But I like the feeling of power I get from it…but it’s not a healthy powerful feeling but more like…because I’m beautiful I feel safer…(people are generally alot nicer and more intimidated of me on my ‘hot’-ter days)

    Whenever I’m in a dumpy slum days where I’m less hot though….I feel awful. disgusting…gross. And if people aren’t in awe like they were the other days…I try harder and harder to look pretty the next day.

    It’s a vicious, ugly cycle. I wish I wasn’t so scared of being ugly. I wish I could be butt ugly and still love myself.

    • This seems to be a pretty common theme among my super-attractive female friends. The more beautiful she is, the more insecure and afraid of being ugly she is. Why? Because most of the validation a really attractive woman has gotten in her life revolves around her beauty. The more beautiful she is, the more times she’s heard “You’re so beautiful” as opposed to any other good qualities she may have or more substantial things she may have achieved. Being physically beautiful is “enough,” it seems, to open all sorts of doors, but if that beauty were to suddenly go away, the perception (often correct) is that those doors would be slammed shut.

      This is one reason I don’t envy my friends who are more beautiful than I am, even though being a woman who isn’t the most beautiful has its own price to pay.

  20. I liked the article overall and found it very interesting, I don’t want to come across as nitpicky, but the way you talked about eating disorders struck me as oversimplified and (innocently) misunderstood and I had to say something. It bothers me when people think silly girls wanting to look hot for men is the cause of eating disorders. It’s very very complex and from personal experience, I would say that the cause stems more from self hatred and the desire for control that in fact has nothing to do with looking attractive for the opposite sex. (And many many other factors for sure) Just want to help people understand a little better.

  21. You will never convince me that men are truly interested in a having dialogue about beauty with women. That is the equivalent of treading on a field of active landmines while strapped with plastic explosives. The truth is, most women are not classically beautiful and most men know this. Men and women work AROUND this fact, as they have been doing for millions of years. Somehow it all works out. The best that a woman can do is learn to examine her attributes objectively and WORK IT, BABY!

  22. Sad that I came to this discussion so late!
    Ok, this is a very complex topic… I would say… Have you ever read the novel “La dame aux camélias” written by Alexandre Dumás (the son). There is an Opera about it, which is called “La Traviatta” by Giuseppe Verdi…. And if you watched the movie “Pretty Woman”… Ok, there is some connection… “Pretty Woman”, female beauty…
    Ok, I strongly recommend anyone go reading Dumás’ novel, strongly go attend or at least watch in DVD “La Traviatta”. I don’t recommend much watching the movie “Pretty Woman” but it is ok, go ahead, do it… it will help also.
    Female beauty is a trap, nature’s trap to make male pay attention to women. (remember Greek mythology how mermaids were a menace to sailors? female beauty, a trap! a sweet trap!)
    But as soon as your eyes are put into a woman, you should step to next level, shut your eyes down and immediately turn your heart on and start looking with your heart instead of with your heart.
    In “La dame aux camélias”, (rather) in “La Traviatta”, main character, Alfredo falls in love with an extremely beautiful woman, Violetta… Violetta, a high class prostitute (Traviatta=”lost woman”). She is the most beautiful woman in Paris… A coveted woman…. Coveted because of her physical beauty… She knows no love but admiration from the richest and more powerful men in Paris.
    Alfredo looks at her, firstly with his eyes, immediately with his heart. He recognizes the beauty inside Violetta’s heart. He is the one because he, among many wealthy and successful admirers, he is the only one to notice such a hidden beauty… Violetta’s hearth
    I will no rob you from the joy of reading the novel or attending the opera.
    I will tel you this, at a climatic moment, Violetta is old and extremely sick, her physical beauty has washed away due to years and illness… Alfredo loves her more than ever in spite she is not even the shadow of beauty she once was… He would gladly give his life for her… A love that knows not limit…
    It seems to me, passion fades and gives place to compassion. Alfredo has gone this way, from passionate love to compassionate love, this later a higher level of love.
    The moment is extremely moving
    Im a man and I tell you this, in spite of being a man, I shed some tears, because the moment is so moving, tension is never ending and you can feel how every character is feeling. Just don’t tell anybody I shed some tears…

  23. As a naturally pretty girl, I don’t care about my own physical beauty at all. It’s a part of who I am, sure, but I don’t play it up. It just is what it is. I don’t wear makeup for this reason. But more importantly, I am so tired of this superficial society. I can’t stand how boring and uninterested most people are. I would like to meet people who challenge the status quo, who want to live on a more involved level. I have had one boyfriend in my whole life (I’m 30 now) because I’ve never met a man who impressed me with his character. And frankly if I never do, then I won’t spend my life pining for it. I am going to develop myself as much as possible, challenge myself as much as possible and be a person with integrity. And if people notice my beauty more than my character, I will just keep walking.


  1. […] – Lisa Hickey, The Good Men Project […]

  2. […] It’s an interesting aspect of feminist analyses of ‘women’s objectification’, that they portray women’s desperate desire to ‘keep young and beautiful’ as the result of outside pressures, of the oppressive ‘male gaze’ and of ‘patriarchy’. But […]

  3. […] weird/strange/illuminating thing I’ve read is that some women—in fact, many women—would rather be dead than seen as not beautiful. I was so taken aback when I read this that I talked about it with three or four of my girl-friends […]

  4. Blog says:

    […] post was originally published on the Good Men Project. Republished with […]

  5. […] commenter on my last my post “Beauty, Obsession, Men, Women” said, “At 80 years old, everyone is marginalized,” in response to what I’ve found, […]

  6. […] Lisa Hickey’s post Beauty, Obsession, Men, Women, commenter “Anonymous Male” speaks of a paradox that comes to light in many ways in the media […]

  7. […] Here’s the post that prompted the original conversation: Beauty, Obsession, Men, and Women […]

  8. […] commenter on my last my post “Beauty, Obsession, Men, Women” said, “At 80 years old, everyone is marginalized,” in response to what […]

  9. […] Lisa Hickey: Why are so many women obsessed with beauty? — The Good Men Project […]

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