Don’t Hate Me Because I’m Beautiful

‘Only when women truly accept and believe in the beauty they posses will others appreciate and respect them for it.’

Beauty has many meanings. For me it meant skin cancer at age 25. Years of striving for that golden California tan—and way too much baby oil—brought it on. Luckily, the cancer was removed without reoccurrence. Unless you are an enlightened individual, you are manipulated by society and biology in some way. It’s not easy to see beauty beyond the ugly, hateful, disgusting, or despicable descriptions of things we’re given by society. That takes mindfulness and compassion that eludes most of us.

Like Lisa, I am fascinated by the topic of women’s love/ hate relationship with beauty. As I read Tom, Mark, and Lisa’s articles, the comments surprised me. It seems like much of the aggravation comes from being compared only based on appearance. But what about my sense of humor, my work ethic, my intelligence? Such a narrow illustration of the infinite possibilities of beauty is shameful. Beauty is so much more than just looks. It’s a subjective and individual experience.

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The Biology of Attraction

In women, youth is prized because youth presumes fertility, the ability to provide and care for offspring.  In men, beauty is the presumed wisdom from experience and the ability to provide or protect that comes with age. (Who would you rather be with Justin Beiber or George Clooney?) Are flawless skin, shiny hair, plump lips, and perky breasts just a superficial guise for sexual attraction? Or a visual sign of good health? These are subconscious attractions that promote survival of the species. When a man views a physical trait that he perceives as attractive, his body receives a hormone dump, a subconscious chemical reinforcement, which is neither his fault nor voluntary. The harm comes when a man cannot or will not control his verbal or physical response once the hormonal surge takes place. I lived in denial of these facts for decades. I refused to believe that so much of our modern behavior was dictated by evolutionary psychology. The truth is that human beings are members of the animal kingdom, and whether we care to admit it or not, we are still submissive to hormones and brain circuitry. Researchers have proven that women who have an hourglass figure (hip to waist ratio) have higher levels of female hormones that boost fertility. Is it not fair to assume that men are subconsciously attracted to these characteristics for the subconscious reason of the increased likelihood of producing healthy offspring?

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Beauty Has Its Reasons

There are many reasons why women strive to be beautiful. The first being social capital. Women dress up on a ladies night in an effort to fit in, to be part of a group, to gain acceptance or validation from their peers. One commenter, Jeni, said that she doesn’t pay much attention to mainstream culture as she lives with others who were like-minded. Though Jeni is fortunate to have a fulfilling life outside of mainstream influence, she is still a part of a group that accepts her. Evolutionary biology teaches us that a woman has a greater chance to thrive and survive in the event her mate is unwilling or unable to provide or protect, if she has formed bonds with other women. Women also strive for beauty in order to attract a mate. (It’s true that we do the choosing, but physical attractiveness gives women the opportunity to choose from a wider gene pool). Once again, to reject the validity of evolutionary psychology is to reject a part of what makes us human. The perception of beauty changes across cultures. What is perceived as beautiful in the West is not necessarily the same as in the Middle East, Africa, or Asia. However, the extremes that the women in these non-Western societies take in order to meet the demand of presumed beauty isn’t any less harmful.  A society’s perceptions of beauty dictate the actions of women throughout the world.

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Beyond Skin Deep

“That which is striking and beautiful is not always good, but that which is good is always beautiful.” —Ninon de l’Enclos

Thankfully, a group of women’s voices has emerged, one that encourages an expanded view of what it means to be a beautiful. No physical characteristics come at the expense of intelligence, nor should having a full figure or almond shaped eyes exclude a woman from being considered beautiful. Women are beginning to advocate for themselves, teaching confidence and self esteem to their children. Only as more women accept themselves for who they truly are and stop tolerate being accepted as anything less, will the definition of women’s beauty be perceived differently. Only when women truly accept and believe in the beauty they posses will others appreciate and respect them for it. If a woman chooses to wear make-up, heels, and designer clothes, she needs to understand why she does it. Is she a slave to a certain perception of beauty? Or is she not a slave at all, just a woman who enjoys and appreciates that form of beauty? As long as we realize these things, we’ll all be doing OK.

Photo Datz.ro/Flickr

More on Women’s Obsession with Beauty

Chasing Beauty: An Addict’s Memoir

Are Women Addicted to Beauty?

Her Looks, Your Status: Why His Claims Not to Care About Beauty Ring Hollow

The Ugly Duckling as a Gender-Neutral Beauty Ideal

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About Marrie Lobel

Marrie Lobel blogs at DirtyInPublic.com, where she is self-decribed as "Geekalicious NorCal Betty masquerading opinions about dating, sex & relationships as fact through dirty talk & wicked rants!"

Comments

  1. “Thankfully, a group of women’s voices has emerged, one that encourages an expanded view of what it means to be a beautiful.”

    That group of women’s voices is called feminism. I was offended that you never gave feminism the credit it deserves.

    “Once again, to reject the validity of evolutionary psychology is to reject a part of what makes us human.”

    The problem with so many evolutionary psychologists is that they let people use their research to perpetuate male dominance and female submission. If human beings were completely submissive to their biology and hormones, most people in the Western world would still die at age 50. Human nature can be patriarchal but it can also be egalitarian, as sociobiologists have found out during the past twenty years. It’s about time the evolutionary psychologists admitted it.

    • Thank you Marie for your comment.
      I was not attempting to offend anyone for not highlighting the important role that the feminists have played on this or other women’s issues. My omission of the word feminisms comes from the belief that the women that have risen up are not limited to those who identify themselves as feminist or are members of a feminist’s organization.

      “The problem with so many evolutionary psychologists is that they let people use their research to perpetuate male dominance and female submission”

      This is an argument that can be made against all research studies that are released. Once the findings of a research study are released to the public, the public (including those with no scientific background) are than free to translate and use the information to form arguments. As for the validity of the findings released by evolutionary psychologists and sociobiologists, I think people get confused between the belief that biology influences behavior (which is true) and the belief that biology determines behavior (which isn’t).

      Is the only form of political correctness to deny the differences between men and women? Isn’t it fair to acknowledge that these differences exist and may benefit women in some areas and men in others without creating barriers? Accepting gender differences does not concede that one gender is better than the other.

  2. Sorry to burst your bubble, but the stuff in your article about “beyond skin deep” is a load of trite, cliched, feminist claptrap. As you allude to yourself in your article, there is indeed a generally accepted objective standard of female beauty – an hourglass figure, and I would add that there is an objective standard of facial beauty for women too – large eyes, small nose, full lips, high cheekbones, symmetrical features etc. These are the features that men consistently, and indeed predicatably, find attractive in women Incidentally, there is also an objective standard for male attractiveness – women are just as predictably, if not even more so, drawn to men with v shaped , lean, ripped, muscular torsos). So given this objective standard of PHYSICAL beauty exists, why do feminists often insist in lumping in NON PHYSICAL criteria to the definition of PHYSICAL beauty ?? Intelligence or being a warm person etc. cannot have any impact on a woman’s physical beauty or otherwise – that’s not me being harsh, it’s just me being realistic and logical. You seem to be repeating the oft repeated feminist mantra that ALL women are beautiful simply by default of being one of 51 percent of the human race – sorry but that particular feminist mantra can only be described as delusional clap trap.

    Oh and by the way, if you’re seeking to lay blame at the feet of men for the shallowness/beauty culture that afflicts Western societies, then you’re way out of line. The culture is largely uphleld and promoted by the fashion and beauty industry – which industry is dominated by women, and needless to say these women are out to make large sums of money from selling these products to women. Women consumers on the other hand, tend to eagerly embrace the beauty culture and beauty products – they do so because of their vanity, and also because there’s a potent competitive instinct within women – they seek to ruthlessly compete with other women beauty wise, both in terms of competing for male attention, and also in terms of seeking to upstage other women at social events etc. Women seek to increase their social capital by attempting to enhance their physical appearance. This phenomenon is overwhelmingly driven. promoted and encouraged by women, both at the professional/production end, and at the consumer end. This phenomenon is not largely driven by men as per the popular myth – most men couldn’t give a damn about women’s protracted beauty routines, indeed many men feel contempt for the frivolousness of it all, not mention the financial profligacy involved. This phenomenon is all about women ruthlessly competing with other women, and of course about women fixating on the frivolous and shallow in life, as per usual – don’t blame men for the shallowness and beauty culture that women bring upon themselves.

    • high cheekbones arent feminine theyre masculine.
      look at the graphic of the universal attractive female face, it does not have prominent high cheekbones.

      round cheekbones are feminine, which accords with notions of historic feminine beauty found in prior ‘high’ civilisations.

  3. I actually enjoyed your article.
    It seems to me in social circles women have it much better than men in their 20’s. Women who are even the slightest bit attractive get lots of validation and self-esteem boosters (in many ways, but the first that comes to mind is that the social contrivance that men must approach women–it reaffirms a woman’s belief in her beauty).

    Women hold a lot of the mating cards in the 20’s and maybe some of the 30’s. But–they higher your perch, the harder your fall is to the ground. When women hit their 40’s women are dumped unceremoniously to the same level most men are in starting at 16. It must be very painful for women in their 40’s to see younger women (who are possibly much much worse people in terms of redeemable characteristics) get the guys–especially if she is kind, generous, loyal and forgiving.

    It exactly parallels the situation men are in at their 20’s: men with a good future, strong work ethic, and respectful of women get passed over because they are not suave. I think it’s all interwoven.

    Unfortunately, times have changed. Rather than encouraging men and women to marry young, and providing stiff social stigmas and legal disencentive for those who ended marriages (as it used to be) the U.S. dating world is a shark tank, in which men and women are perpetually concerned with “trading up”. Loyalty is a thing of the past.

    One cure I see is creating ways besides beauty for women to get their self-esteem up (to prepare them for the eventual sad state of beauty/youth dissipation).

    One way to do this is to start joining shared parenting advocates. Many studies show that the children of fatherless homes suffer from much worse outcomes in a number of behaviors. But, most importantly for women: the #1 indicator of high self-esteem in girls is having a loving fit father in her life.

    It has been proven post-divorce children fare better with lots of involvement with both parents.

    If we want to advance alternative ideas of beauty for future generations of women (not to mention somewhat insulating them from the predations of manipulative men) we need to start now, by keeping fathers in children’s lives.

    1/3rd of children of divorce in which the father is the NCP lose permanent contact with their father (the overwhelming majority of it due to visitation interference). Most family courts and police do NOT enforce visitation, however in most states if a father is more than $500 behind in child support he can be put into jail. Fathers are more than walking ATM’s.

  4. tu quoque says:

    The standards of beauty are stricter for men than they are for women. So why should we care how beauty standards affect women?

  5. DavidByron says:

    All these smart and beautiful women agree; judge us for our intelligence.
    But sometimes I wonder where that leaves someone who is beautiful but not smart?

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  1. […] Don’t Hate Me Because I’m Beautiful Filed Under: Advice & Confessions, Editors' Picks, Featured Content, Recent and Recommended, Women's Obsession with Beauty Tagged With: addiction, beauty, image, Jezebel, Lisa Hickey, photoshop, Women's Obsession with beauty About Lisa HickeyLisa Hickey is CEO of Good Men Media Inc. and publisher of the Good Men Project. She enjoys "creating things that capture the imagination of the general public and become part of the popular culture for years to come." Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter. […]

  2. […] Good Men Project has pulled through for the ladies once again with their recent piece: “Don’t Hate Me Because I’m Beautiful” by Marrie Lobel. There's reason behind this amount of effort. Via […]

  3. […] physical features and why do women need to explain their desire to purchase a bombshell bra? In my article on the Good Men Project my opinions on beauty and women’s pursuit of beauty were expressed. I […]

  4. […] physical features and why do women need to explain their desire to purchase a bombshell bra? In my article on the Good Men Project my opinions on beauty and women’s pursuit of beauty were expressed. I […]

  5. […] Don’t Hate Me Because I’m Beautiful /* Filed Under: Editors' Picks, Gender & Sexuality, Women's Obsession with Beauty Tagged With: beauty, Gender equality, gender issues, Hans Christian Andersen, inner beauty, Kim Kardashian, superficiality, The Ugly Duckling, Tom Matlack About Tom MatlackTom Matlack is the co-founder of The Good Men Project. He has a 18-year-old daughter and 16- and 7-year-old sons. His wife, Elena, is the love of his life. […]

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