Thursday, July 11, 2013

beauty: in the eye(heart) of the beholder

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"I say that the most liberating thing about beauty is realizing that you are the beholder. This empowers us to find beauty in places where others have not dared to look, including inside ourselves."Salma Hayek
My husband called me out on my last blog post. The one that included the recent viral Dustin Hoffman video, how his comments resonate with so many women, and how I don’t always see myself in the best light. He asked me some questions that were revealing in a way I didn’t expect. He peeled back the curtain of the male psyche just a bit to reveal something I did not know.

Did you also know that – despite what we are fed by TV, movies, magazines, and in advertising - men like real women just the way we are?

Did you know that men notice how other men look?

And that they worry about how they look almost as much as women do?

I happen to think that Zach Galifianakis is more than a 2. He is successful. He is talented. He has a rugged quality combined with a self-deprecating sense of humor that makes him adorable to me. But apparently he is not the only man to doubt his appeal to women or to other dudes.

His quote is from a movie that came out last year called “Mansome”, by Morgan Spurlock, creator of “Supersize Me.” I recently heard about it and have it ready to watch in my Netflix Instant Queue. If I wasn’t packing for vacation, I would be watching it. But for now, the trailer will suffice.

When I first saw this trailer, I thought maybe it was a spoof, a male send-up of the way women look at themselves and each other. But after the following conversation with my husband via Google Talk, I think Morgan Spurlock was on to something. And so was my husband, also a Morgan.

Morgan (MF):  Just read your latest blog. Is that REALLY the way you see yourself? Trying to "measure up" to some standard?

Cindi (CCF): Sometimes. I think women in general do it to themselves and to each other. Men don't really do that, not with looks as much anyway. Even homely men think they're studs, where beautiful women are still insecure about their appearance. How many times have you shown me a picture that I'm in, and instead of commenting on the whole context of the picture, I've said "OMG, I'm so fat!", not "Oh, MM looks so cute”, or “I love that shirt on you”, or “that was a great day”...

MF: Whoa! Slow down! I think you're a FOX!

CCF: I know, and I'm thankful! I think I'm a fox, too....until I see myself on camera! That person doesn't look like how I feel …

MF: Oh no....the camera LOVES you. BTW, I gotta disagree with you on the man thing. Gerard Depardieux is one of the ugliest dudes ever. So we do compare.....

CCF: but he still gets good looking women in the movies...Catherine Deneuve, for petes sake!

MF:  I think Madison Avenue has done to y'all what is hasn't done to blame them

CCF:  I agree....advertising to both men and women has helped strengthen/establish this stereotype

MF: Name three good looking men - quick don't think about it

CCF: Hugh Jackman ….George Clooney…Pierce Brosnan…. (*Notice I didn't pick Dustin Hoffman…hmmm)

MF: All movie stars....interesting.....

CCF: But I immediately thought "FAMOUS good looking men.."

MF: And that's my point - MADISON AVENUE...MEDIA...MAGAZINES

CCF: Yep, those are the images that sprang to mind, not of real people that I know. Interesting....

MF: See, I can think Bernadette Peters, Catherine Deneuve, etc are knockouts...and they are. But truth is, most men are taken by REAL LIFE women. They fantasize about the other ones. But for real - just to mention three women quickly….

Morgan named three women – three very REAL women – that we both know and at least one attribute that makes them attractive. I was pleasantly surprised by his choices, as they are all women I like and admire and also think are attractive. Not perfect, but beautiful, admirable individuals in so many ways.

Then I was able to rattle off the names of five guys we both know who I think are attractive. Not Hollywood attractive, although they are handsome in their own way, but men who are kind, funny, talented, friendly, affectionate. Men who greet me with a hug and a smile. Men who enjoy being around me and look into my eyes when I’m talking. Men I respect and whom I know respect me.

MF:  But they were your SECOND choices. Get my point yet?

CCF: y-e-s

MF: So....

CCF: I’m as guilty as anyone!

MF: Accept the fact you ARE beautiful. Accept all the compliments you receive. You have a beautiful voice. People love to be around you. You're hot! ...and I love you

That last one is the clincher. What you love is always beautiful to you. So if we want to be beautiful, we have to stop focusing on pieces and parts, and learn to love the unique creations we are.

Which especially difficult for me right now, as I’m about to go shopping for a new bathing suit. As I look in the mirror, I will try to ignore the poochy stomach and thigh ripples, and see what my husband sees with both his eyes and his heart. 

A person of infinite worth.

(My husband has read and approves this blog...but more importantly approves of the blogger!)

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