It’s Your Duty to Be Beautiful: Beauty is as beauty does (Responses, Part 2)

Sean_Cassidy2Nicole had some very interesting observations and thoughts in response to my earlier post on the Annie Lennox song, “It’s Your Duty to Be Beautiful” in our ongoing class discussion. This interesting and illuminating discussion about women and self-image includes what it is like for a woman to date both average looking and almost perfect looking men and how boyfriends’ attitudes and words can ruin a relationship when they let weight become an ultimatum. It concludes with some insights on parenting. Enjoy!


Written by Nicole Zolty on April 24, 2008 10:47 PM (CC-BY-SA Licensed):

I appreciate your post Will. I agree with you that inner beauty is always more than outward. With inner beauty often comes confidence which I find extremely attractive. Confidence in oneself exudes off of people and draws you to them.

Many people cannot see past appearances though which is so sad. I have been in relationships with people in “perfect” shape and also with the average person.

And one relationship was not better than the other because of how they looked, people are just people, the packaging just varies.

I am thin, and I have had two men that I have dated inform me that I needed to stay thin if they were going to stay with me. One even went as far as to give me a weight limit that I needed to stay in for him to stay with me. Needless to say they were gone quickly after that, but what amazed me is that some people are so hung up on thinness that they feel it is acceptable to make such stipulations on another. Not to mention I lost all respect for them. Woman whether heavy or thin want to be valued for WHO they are, not how they look.

Thanks for your thoughts.

I’m sorry if this sounds rude, but those two men are such losers! I’m happy that you had a strong enough self-image to see that and to leave the relationships rather than trying to meet an unrealistic mandate.

That was an interesting insight about the “perfect” people and the average person being no better or worse. It makes sense on an intellectual level, yet it is somehow reassuring to hear someone say that.

I am curious if you felt or were treated any differently when you were with “perfect” or “average” people. I can imagine several different scenarios. First, when you were with Mr. Perfect, you might have been looked down upon for not being so perfect (though it sounds like you might have just fit in fine). You might have felt a bit better about yourself in the company of a “perfect” man (“Look at who I scored, girls!”). You might have been treated better when with Mr. Average, because maybe you looked better than he did. Did you feel as respected by others when with Mr. Average compared to when you were with Mr. Perfect.

Basically I’m wondering if your partner’s looks had any spill-over, positive or negative, onto you.

Thank you for your comments.

—Will


Replied to by Nicole Zolty on April 25, 2008 6:52 PM (CC-BY-SA Licensed):

Thank you for thinking they are losers, I sure did. The curious part of it is both of them were by all means just your average “joe”. And both of them were not in perfect shape. In retrospect they were insecure about themselves, and seemed to want to be with a woman in the shape they preferred, and thought that that was some sort of a compliment to me. Instead I felt a bit like a car, or some sort of cool toy they could “own”. Didn’t work for me at all. I am a busy single mom, who works and goes to school. I am comfortable with myself and did not need them to help me feel so. If anything being with them ended up making me feel bad about myself because they had subtle ways of trying to get me to change me. Suggestions as to how I should dress, or wear my hair, or what color I should dye it. The worse of it was all of their suggestions and advice was unsolicited. I never once suggested that they should change, or work out, or layoff the ice cream, clean up their house some. Well you get the idea. I look back on it now and just shake my head.

As far as your question of the difference between dating the 2 different types, I actually found that the guy who was “Mr. Perfect”, good looking by most peoples standards, good job and educated, was actually a wonderful man. He put no pressure on me at all to maintain anything, he was comfortable with himself and accepted me as I was. He could only be in a relationship with people who he found interesting on an intellectual level. To this day we are great friends even thought the relationship ended.

One might think that hearing “wow, your girlfriend is hot” would make a woman feel great, and it is nice to hear, but not when the person you are in a relationship is pretty much bored by anything you talk to them about. Plus then there is the pressure to always be dressed nice, have your hair and makeup done, when I am mostly comfortable in jeans, and a sweatshirt, flip flops. I don’t mind dressing up on occasion, but I want to be myself on a day to day basis.

The best type of man for myself is the one who will take me out even with no makeup on and my hair in a ponytail, and will still proudly introduce me to his friends if we run into them. Even though at that moment, I wish I was a tad more cleaned up.

I don’t know how well I answered your question, and I hope I did not come across as if I think I am something amazing. Because I do not view myself as that. I’m just me, and fortunately I have
learned to sniff out that type of man mentioned earlier rather quickly.

Your last comment was very good. I’m going to reply on my blog though [rather than on the private class discussion board], because the instructor will be closing off that discussion area very soon unfortunately.

—Will

Replied to by Nicole Zolty on Apr 25, 2008 10:12 PM (CC-BY-SA Licensed):

This weeks question has been an interesting one in class. For myself as a parent of 2 teenage sons, and now a little girl, I am very aware of the message the media sends our children in regards to beauty. Raising sons is in some respects trickier to me than raising a daughter, because I am raising someone’s future husband and father. And teaching them that woman are capable beings and are not there to be objectified has been a strong goal. I feel like I have succeeded though as my sons are becoming the type of people I would choose to have as friends.

I am still in the beginning stages of raising my daughter though as she is still quite young.

birthday party at the gymnasiumThose are some interesting points. As a man, I think that raising a girl would be more difficult. With boys, I would hope that they could just follow the examples I try to set by living a reasonably good life. With a girl… I’d be a little lost! I guess that I would start by treating her the way that I would expect any man to treat her. She would learn what it is like to be respected, loved, appreciated for both her intelligence and her emotions. I would work hard to raise her to have confidence in herself and think through things so that she would make smart decisions even when I’m not around to guide her. I’d encourage her to follow her passions in life, whether they lead to the sciences, the arts, to the jungles of the rain forests, or being the best damn garbage collector in the city (if that truly was her passion… shudder). In short, I guess I’d raise her pretty much the same way I would try to raise a boy. More a matter of shades and tints than an entirely different color palette.

I think that is a really great line: “I feel like I have succeeded… my sons are becoming the type of people I would choose to have as friends.” Can there really be a better judge of a parent’s success? I mean, how successful would you feel if one of your sons achieved the Presidency if he turned into a person you couldn’t stand to be around?

Thank you so much for sharing. Please feel free to add any additional thoughts in the comments section below.

—Will

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