Monday, August 2, 2010

Wading into Some Deep Philosophical Questions Here...Feel Free to Join in, or Throw Me a Life-Preserver.

The Lady of London posed a question to me, "What do you think of the female form?" This was in response to a discussion started by my friend from Junior High School who told me that she first bought diet pills in the 8th Grade, and first made herself vomit in 9th Grade (as well as other girls I knew). This was all quite shocking to me. My friend from Junior High School was discussing the obsession that women have with weight - even at such a young age, and even back when I could not recall just one girl in my class that was even remotely heavy. So why do women obsess over such things, and is it the fault of Madison Avenue, men, both? Or something else?

My friend prodded me since being a bachelor at 42 years of age I have had a few dates in my lifetime. And the Lady of London joined the debate with such a question of preference. I mean I guess I prefer blonds to brunettes, but I've dated more brunettes in my lifetime. Perhaps I find that perfect 10 body more desirable, but I certainly did not have an army of women with perfect 10 bodies hanging on my arm. And what is a perfect 10, anyhow? My "10" is not my friend's "10." And is rating women on a numerical scale just a tad sexist? I'm no Alan Alda, but still. Now, my buxom-loving buddy prefers women with a balcony you can do Shakespeare from, whereas I do not have such a predilection for the higher alphabets. I'm 6'4" and find myself more attracted to petite women, in fact when I was 300 lbs I dated a string of size 0's and 2's, but there were a handful of women 5'10 - 6' tall that I have dated as of late too. Now, can I appreciate the full figured, Rubenesque form? Most certainly! Have I been less attracted to a woman with a beautiful face and personality that could barely fit into my jeans - yes, I suppose I have.

Now, I think this infatuation with waifish, "Heroin chic" stick-thin bodies is outrageous, but nor do I find "body-by-McDonald's" attractive either. My friend said that she knows of no woman who is happy with their body, and who does not think they need to lose at least 10 lbs. I am not so sure, scary if it is true. That is why I applaud Dove's "Comfortable in your own skin" media campaign. I mean Marilyn Monroe would be considered very over-weight by today's fashion magazine standards, so it is good that these impossible standards are changing to be more realistic. However, with this tsunami-like focus on boosting self-esteem in young girls let us not allow over-eating and no exercise to be excused out of fear of damaging their sensitive feelings. I mean, no kid should be over-weight. I think there are tons of nuance when discussing the epidemic of childhood obesity and we should not walk on eggshells out of fear of some imagined new epidemic of Bulimia. It is not, in my opinion, convoluted or ambiguous to say to kids and teens: "You are over-weight, stop eating fast food and soda every day, and go outside and play or exercise" and in the same breath say, "By the way, plus size adult models are gorgeous too."

Yes, I have dated lots of women, but at no point did body type detract from the relationship at hand. I know one ex-girlfriend who is a size 0, double-take beautiful, has an amazing job that takes her to some of the most beautiful places in the world - in other words a great catch, but runs miles daily not because she loves it, but because she feels she needs to stay in shape to be more desirable to men. She can live at Taco Bell for 6 months and still turn heads. So, why this obsession?

It is obviously ingrained. The same mental state that makes a 13 year old girl stick her fingers down her throat in the school bathroom is the same mental state that made my friend in the Hamptons obsess for :30 minutes over which sandal was "cuter" to wear before going out. I assured her at no point will any straight man in any bar in the Hamptons ever, ever look to see what sandals she (or any other woman) is wearing. So how do man's qasi-Neaderthal disposition force some women to worry so much about those extra pounds as to sometimes be dangerous? I really don't know. But, I do know, rather, I strongly believe there is no such thing as a perfect " female form."

So, as a single man in New York City let me answer the Lady of London's question: "What do you think of the female form?" Answer: I like it.


Vegan Epicurean said...

Great post! I think women in general have no idea what goes on in the minds of men. ;-) Thanks for sharing your thoughts.


Terrence said...

Thanks Ali!

Anonymous said...

Interesting post and now allows me to ask you this. Do you think Victoria Beckham is attractive, I ask you because she is someone who has seriously dieted to extremes to maintain her weight at a really low level thinking that this makes her, well, "posh". I'm from the UK too and she never used to look like that. It's like she has changed even her head and feet size by I'm guessing diet not surgery, but it's not healthy living, and I can't even imagine seeing her in a tracksuit. I'm female, and I just don't think that guys find someone quite this small (not naturally small) attractive, plus what a pain to take out on a date. I'm tired of my very slim friends constantly fretting about their size instead of their health. What is a girl to do?
p.s. I'm currently veggie (about 20 years) but have gone vegan for the summer, not sure if I'll be able to keep it up once school starts. But I am having serious low-energy levels recently.

Terrence said...

Currently walking through the Park for my training session, and will address your question later. But regarding low energy levels I had the same problem and I corrected it by adding more seeds to my diet. I stopped feeling sluggish when I added a bunch of seasame seeds to my salads!

Anonymous said...

Great insight and you nailed the challenge. The message to all women (and men) should be about eating healthy and having a healthy body type, but this is not the message we as a society communicate. Yes, Dove was recognized as doing a great thing with their "real women" campaign, but as a marketing executive, I can tell you that this campaign did not increase sales and was met by many with great objection. Sure it built an awareness and perhaps an affinity for some, but as terrible as it may sound, most U.S. women could not relate to this campaign. Most women still look for the aspirational image in their beauty brands. According to a recent survey I received, only 4% of women think of themselves as sexy. And, if you can believe it, the #1 concern is the condition of their hair, followed by their weight and then the health of their body. I guess what I'm saying is that women still have it all wrong. The health of their body should be their #1 concern - and if you have a healthy body, then most likely you do not need to lose 10 pounds. And yes, that crazy mental state that for many women starts at age 13 does spur from trying to please all the boys(or actually to outdo the other girls). It then becomes a life long obsession.

Terrence said...

UK Anon - In regards to Victoria Beckham I saw a side by side photo of her from the Spice Girls days and today, and there is no comparison! She looks far superior, healthier, and sexier before she changed her body to resemble a walking, unnaturally thin Barbie Doll. She just looks completely unnatural and not attractive to me whereas her picture 10 years ago is gorgeous. Her fake boobs look totally ridiculous on the tiny body of hers.

Terrence said...

Marketing Exec Anon - way to add even more insight, thank you! A healthy body is certainly NOT skin deep.

Terrence said...

**UPDATE** - Interesting article in the Post today:

"Suddenly, actress Christina Hendricks' size-12, hourglass-figure is the hottest bod on TV..."

Read more:

Anonymous said...

UK Anon again, I just love the healthy feeling you just described after a good workout or healthy meal (loving Vegan Ep's recipes). Who wants to spend all their time calorie counting, and being so fragile you can't run to save your life. It's so sad that women are more concerned with the way they look than being fit and healthy, what's the point of being thin but dying young from a cocktail of diet pills and other meds. Glad you liked the before picture better!

Terrence said...


Sorry I can't seem to post properly on your site, but feel like I have to tell you just how common it is that women actually really are dissatisfied with their of the many theories out there, the one I think is the most credible explanation for this phenonmenon in our culture, is that no one makes money marketing a "love yourself as you are" campaign. Women are responsible for a huge share of spent dollars in the economy- and selling diet products, push-up bras, magazines, and new clothes all with theory (myth) that thinner/prettier equals happiness. I could go on for days about the subject, but generally its hard to find a woman who accepts herself and body for what it is, much less one who embraces or loves it. Little girls are told they are "pretty" and praise for appearances and manners most frequently, while little boys are praised for athletic abilities-maybe that's where this insecurity starts.

Anyways, congrats on such a great weekend in the hamptons! Sounds like wonderful healthy food choices while managing to enjoy yourself- the two don't have to be mutually exclusive.
And altho the reeses cup won't kill you, the new to you thought process of pausing to consider the consequences is something to be proud of- maybe some sweet treats in your desk would be a good idea? Altho I hate those "100 calorie packs" emerald nuts makes a great cocoa dusted almond packet that seems to hit the spot for me around 4pm with a bit of chocolate nutty goodness!
Hope your week keeps up the great momentum you have going right now-

Lisa said...

Love this post. Can you convince all men to feel the same way? I just got back from MB Fashion Week in Miami and trust me, most of the men were drooling over the women with the "perfect" bodies.

Terrence said...

Lisa - I think more men feel the same way than you think. Not to mention - How many women drool over some male model and snuggle up to their chunky hubby? Men are the same way wwhat catches their eye does not catch their heart. Besides, I went to the Mercedes Benz Fashion Show in NYC and those models look abnormal. In fact my hostess from MB was far prettier and personable than anyone backstage!

Katheryn said...


I just wanted to say that I think that women are actually more concerned about how other women view them, not men, whether they realize it or not. It's not that they think they will be more attractive to men if they lose weight, it's that they think that men desire their friend more if their friend is more in shape, so it becomes more of a competition with other women rather than a personal desire to be good physically (of course, I'm not saying men don't care). You said that men don't really notice how cute the sandals are of a woman who secretly spent 30 minutes deciding which to wear, but other women do notice all the details! Comments from female friends about appearance make women think that men notice it as well. I think men are mainly attracted to confidence, and it's usually the women who are in shape and feel good who are the ones that have the confidence that women out of shape don't have. And the women who are larger who attract the same men are the ones who love their bodies and have confidence.

Thanks for reading!

Terrence said...

Thanks Katheryn for such great insight!