My husband worries because he doesn’t think I eat enough. I worry because I think I eat too much.
We are both aware of exactly what I eat so why do our judgments vary so greatly?
It is partially a matter of goals. I want to be model-thin so that I can wear the clothes I love and look just like the glossy pictures in the catalogs. He wants me to be comfortable and relaxed and could care less how much I weigh or what size I wear. I suppose if I became humungous, he’d wince, but it would probably require that I be clearly obese before he noticed.
Men give out such mixed signals. They profess their undying devotion but scan every pretty or well-endowed female on the street and read Playboy and other soft pornography, delighting in seeing any woman in some level of nudity. Ask any happily married man and he’ll admit he enjoys looking at other women but has no interest beyond the occasional once-over when a female form grabs his attention.
Women feed themselves equally mixed messages. We don’t believe in casual looks, feeling driven to actively compete with whoever captured our honey’s eye. We critique the pictures he enjoys, pointing out the too-thick ankles, the pre-cellulite dimples, the obviously collagen-enhanced lips, or the lack of class or taste.
Men enjoy looking at women and are remarkably non-judgmental. They appreciate the view for what it is and fail to notice the minor defects we are supremely happy to enumerate.
Now if we could only learn to look at ourselves as uncritically as men do! We look in a full length mirror and instead of appreciating our assets, we groan with horror at our shortcomings. We camouflage less than perfect legs with draping pants or long skirts. We conceal a small bustline with vests and overblouses. We add to our diminutive size by tottering on platforms or stilettos. We cover aging skin with layers of makeup and add extensions to give thinning hair length and volume.
But underneath, we know exactly what we are. We stand in the bathroom and stare at the creases in our skin, the lines in our forehead, the swell between our hip bones. We grimace at every flaw and hate the imperfections of heredity, genes, an unhealthy lifestyle, and the ravages of time.
Then we wonder why we lack the self-confident manner of our male coworkers, relaxed and comfortable in the bodies fates dealt them, blissfully ignorant of their physical faults.
One day, we’ll get there – maybe.