Yes, There is Harm in Looking

I told my husband I was going to finally get another blog post up tonight, one much over-due with the busyness and sickness that have dominated my life for the last couple of months. I was considering writing about women’s hair and how they cut it shorter as they get older(something that has been on my mind a lot today) when I stumbled across something on Facebook that has quite literally knocked the breath out of me. (Thanks so much to Kim of It’s a Beautiful Wreck for sharing this, or I probably wouldn’t have seen it.)

Dan of Single Dad Laughing put up a post today that is taking the internet by storm, and rightfully so. In a time where the world is finally realizing how much damage is done by the media with it’s photo-shopped magazine covers and dyed-hair-fake-teeth-artificial-nailed-32DD-implant celebrity photos, Dan has hit on a point that women have been trying to put into words for years.  After pondering on the many criticisms women heap upon themselves, he realizes this is not a view that women have just latched onto for the sake of it-

No woman can possibly have the perfect everything and be the perfect everything. It is impossible, of that I have never been more certain.

Now, you may be naively sitting there thinking, I don’t declare that. I tell women they are amazing. That they are beautiful. That there is nothing wrong with them.

Do you not understand? It doesn’t take opening your mouth to propound these things. It doesn’t take flapping your lips to make a statement. It doesn’t take verbal anything to spread this vicious ideology.

All it takes is you and me, stopping and looking.

I’ve come to realize something profound that I don’t know if I’ve ever heard anybody actually say.

It is not the impossibly air brushed females on magazine covers who are causing women to hold themselves against a standard of perfection. No, it’s not that at all. Holy crap. Why am I just realizing this? Why doesn’t anybody seem to realize this?

It is the men that stop and look at those magazines.

And that simple, repeated act is how we constantly, and never-endingly declare to women that they are not good enough, and will never be good enough.

We stop, and we look.

And women notice.

Women notice every time another woman walks by with “perfect” legs, and the men around her are unable to break themselves of the trance until she is gone.

Women notice every time we size up the girl whose “perfect” boobs are bursting out of her shirt.

Women notice every time we crane our necks as we pass by a Victoria’s Secret store.

Women notice every time we sneak a glance at those magazines in the checkout line.

Women notice every time any woman gets attention for having the “perfect” anything.

Yes, women notice that men are sucked in and captivated by the same fictional things. Over, and over, and over.

And they remember it. They store it. They program their minds to say, “what he is looking at is obviously what men want, and I must have that or men won’t want me”.

A man telling a woman she is beautiful only goes so far when his next action is to nearly break his neck craning to check out a skinny female jogger as they drive by the park. When they stare at other women, when they drool over the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue, when they spend their time looking for ‘perfect tits’ online, it sends the message to women that ‘this is what he wants, and you aren’t it’.

Make no mistake, this is not to lay all of the blame at men’s feet. My husband was very quick to point out that biology has it’s place, and that women will immediately size each other up and compare no matter what the situation. To some extent I agree. There is blame to be laid all around- the media, men’s obsessions with those impossible images that are put in front of them from the time they lay hands on their first Playboy, all the way to women’s own responsibility to themselves and their spouses to keep themselves up, physically and mentally.

That said, healing begins at home. The wife who watches her husband sneak the Victoria’s Secret catalog to the bathroom is not going to be inspired to work out, she’s going to be driven to the refrigerator because she’ll never look like that, no matter how many hours she spends with a personal trainer.

Men who read Dan’s post are probably going to call bullshit, and I find that sad, because in doing so they are going to miss out on what so many men claim to want- a deeper understanding of their wives or girlfriends, even if it did have to come from another man.