July 31, 2008

The Sheep and the Goats

Part of a letter in Annie's Mailbox caught my attention. It's the second letter down, in reply to some jackass complaining about paying for his dates unless they looked like supermodels.

I am in my late 50s, very attractive and used to be a model. I am college educated, well read and was complimented the other day on my sense of humor. All my hard-earned money goes for Botox, liposuction, the gym, hairdressers and expensive clothing, just so one of these cheap old goats will give me a second look.

The first thought that came to my mind when I read it: In what universe is a "cheap old goat" (or any age goat) worth all that?

If the reply is, "Men won't look at me otherwise," my next question is: Why are you so concerned about men who are addicted to such superficialities?

Look, I exercise. I don't go to the gym because I don't think it's necessary. I walk. Usually for an hour or more at a time, up as many hills as I can find. I do it because (a) I like to walk; (b) I want to stave off heart disease and osteoporosis as long as possible; and (c) I don't have the money to revamp my wardrobe into a bigger size. (Or a smaller one, for that matter.) I haven't been on a scale in years; I gauge my need for exercise and weight control--at least, that's how it works for me; I know it's not the same for everyone--strictly by how my clothes fit. If it's suddenly hard to pull on my favorite pair of jeans, I know it's time to head for the hills more often.

Men looking or not looking at me don't have anything to do with it. My thighs and hips aren't supermodel skinny. So what? They do quite well to get me around on my hikes, and they hold up my skirts, so I'm satisfied. I've never done Botox; I figure judicious use of sunscreen and moisturizer works almost as well. Liposuction is way too icky for me, especially after working with a plastic surgeon's daughter and hearing all about how he took the lipo wand, jammed it under the skin, and rammed and wiggled it around to break up the fat, which is why his patients ended up bruised from hip to ankle. I don't know if that's the proper way of doing it, but it was certainly enough to turn me off.

As far as compliments go, the ones I remember are offered because of my attributes, i.e. "You're smart" or "You're funny" (which the Annie's Mailbox writer admitted to have gotten). Compliments such as those are of far greater worth than anything to do with looks. That's why this woman's response is so sad; she's been snookered into society's obsession with youth, beauty, and thinness--an obsession fueled in large part by the "cheap old goats" she is working so hard to attract.

It's a vicious, self-defeating circle, and unless we as women learn to take a step back and see it for what it is, unfortunately it will continue.


Tiffany Stevens said...

This reminds me, oddly enough, of one of the senior quotes that was chosen by a notorious flirt in my graduating high school class of 2008.
"The average woman would rather have beauty than brains because the average man can see better than he can think."

My english teacher/mentor and I almost had a heartattack, but we could make the girl change her quote, because school policy dictates that the only banned quotes are those that "have racially offensive, drug, sexual (intercourse, not the sexes), and alcohol content".

Crescendo said...

I just had this talk with my mother yesterday. Why is only youth beautiful? Why do we care so much about how we look, versus being healthy?

Great post.

Unknown said...

--snark mode on-- Your quote is an example of how patriarchy oppresses both men and women, because the implication is that the average man can only see and think with his one eye.