In the Sixties, my mother put me in for naps while she watched her soap opera As the World Turns because, she said, "Some things aren't for children." I never slept, and I guess it didn't occur to her that small people who suffer from chronic severe ear infections can still hear the television, even if they cannot see it.
I heard quite a bit. The women's skin cream commercials made the biggest impression. I remember a voiceover promising miraculous restoration for those unfortunates who struggled with "over 35 skin." Not long afterwards, the promise had been amended to help women with "over 30 skin." Eventually, it changed again, offering salvation to women over the advanced age of 25. I remember thinking, "Wow, they don't give you much time, do they?"
If the moisturizer commercials didn't bring home the point, the ads for a rejuvenating supplement called Geritol did. I got to see this one. The husband of a woman who used the products looked into the camera and said, "I think I'll keep her," as though he was the biggest sport in the world.
You'd be stupid not to get the message: If a woman let herself be human and let her body to do what human bodies do, nobody would value her. Her husband would split, forcing her and her three kids to relocate to a subway grate. And even though no man in my childhood universe abandoned his wife, I worried someone would do it to me.
Before I met my husband, in those days when I willfully dated men that could make no woman happy, I noticed this other breed of women who wore glasses instead of contacts. Who didn't own makeup. Some of them carried an extra ten or twenty pounds, yet they clearly felt excellent about themselves. They exuded an intoxicating confidence. Usually, they had some grateful man in their thrall.
I learned from them.
These women had their priorities straight. Despite active discouragement from the media, they had the temerity to like themselves. And even though I still put on lipstick go to the mailbox, I decided to wise up and reorder my priorities too. I stopped buying women's magazines and started reading self-help books that changed me (The Power of Your Subconscious Mind by Joseph Murphy remains a favorite). It was around this time that I started to attract more suitable friends, jobs, circumstances, and men. As within, so without.
So, now nearly a million years later, it troubles me to read about a surge in women seeking unnecessary -- and often dangerous-- cosmetic procedures. An article in Vox describes all sorts of dumb things females are paying to have done to their bodies because one of the Kardashians did it, or even worse, because a male partner shamed them into doing it.
But here's what I know for sure:
If a man shames any part of a woman's body for any reason, he is not the man for her -- or for anyone else. If she believes it's incumbent upon her to resemble the actresses in the porn he watches, it's time to wake up. Her body isn't the problem. His porn habit is the problem.
When one party alters his/her body to conform to an unrealistic ideal to please the other, there's trouble. When a woman is expected to compete with an image on a screen, there's trouble. Unlike the bodies frozen in time in porn, human bodies are constantly changing. None of us -- and this definitely includes men -- will ever be perfect, physically or otherwise.
We need to accept that. A woman stuck with a man incapable of appreciating a natural female body would do well to toss him the remote and take her life back.
She can start by forgetting about her body. It's time to think about what's going on in her head. If she doesn't believe she can attract someone who can love her just as she is now, and how she will be in the future, she can change that.
Things will get better then, as if by magic.
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