irish i may

Monday, November 8, 2010

Beauty News You can do Without

There are three faithful friends - an old wife, an old dog, and ready money.
Benjamin Franklin 

I just read this article about female beauty  written by Amy Aikon, from the most recent issue of Psychology Today. This just bothered me on so many levels.  Lacking time I will just make a couple of points.  I hope you all read it and let me know what you think.

This is the magazine's cover story this month, which would suggest a new or profound insight into the human mind.  So what is the great revelation? That men prefer good-looking women, while women don't place as much emphasis on appearance? Huh? Is this really some sort of taboo subject?   Taboo among who?  I must be missing something because it is  not a recent discovery that men are visual and that pretty girls attract the most attention.  In theory this would give them the best selection of "mates", setting aside any personality or up-bringing issues which would influence their success with men. But beyond this, Aikon suggests, that character, intelligence, and decency-- "inner beauty"--  counts for zilch if a woman isn't beautiful.  .

 "While we wish things were different, we'd best accept the ugly reality: No man will turn his head to ogle a woman because she looks like the type to buy a turkey sandwich for a homeless man or read to the blind."  

Okay,  let's take a sensible step away from evolutionary-psychology-world.  Down here on the ground there are a lot of men who are married,  happily married, to homely women.  Some of them were never particularly pretty, and yet managed to attract their husbands.  Most women though, however lovely in youth,  come to that point where they eventually succumb to the pressures of age, gravity and cookies(me too, particularly the cookies part!). Despite some alleged internal evolutionary drive to seek out a better looking wife, their husbands love them and are faithful to them.  After all, they possess all manner of gifts and virtues which make them desirable life companions.  They are witty, intelligent, cheerful, astute businesswomen, good cooks, and enthusiastic lovers.  And their husbands are very happy. All of these good things do not mean nothing simply because there are younger, prettier, better-groomed gals out there.  

Aikon positions herself in this article as the voice of reason against impractical "feminist" ideas.  In fact Aikon seems to take a pretty dim of view of men, glossed over with a veneer of science.  Consider if a similar article by a male writer had urged men to step up their earnings lest their wives start eying the guy next door who's got a new deck or shiny SUV.  What?! How dare he suggest that women are only interested in a man's ability to support her! He would be considered a misogynist. However, in some circles (not Aikon's, clearly) men actually grow up and learn to treat women like fellow human beings.  The women in their lives recognize this, developing everything good and human in themselves in response.  This is not feminism, its adulthood.

I was also disturbed  by the authors "mean girl" tone throughout the article.  

"Note to the menopausal painted doll: Troweled on makeup doesn't make you look younger; it makes you look like an aging drag queen."

Nice. Seventh grade all over again. 

Personally, I think I prefer this beauty advice as I advance into middle age:

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
   but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
Honor her for all that her hands have done,
   and let her works bring her praise at the city gate. Proverb 31:30-31

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