How do you measure the beauty of a woman? Is it the number on a scale? Her BMI? Bra size? If she is in your league? If she’s out of your league?
On Thursday, I am going to try to answer that question, by participating in the 2nd annual Beauty of a Woman Blogfest, sponsored by August McLaughlin. As a person whose goal is to not only redefine her own body image, but help others to as well, this topic is very near and dear to my heart.
On a whim and as a point of comparison, I decided to ask my husband a few questions. We were talking about parenting, and I asked him if he ever worried if he was or had been a bad parent. He never hesitated when he said “No”. I stared at him. “Geez,” I said, “I worry about that ALL THE TIME.” Even now, after my kids are adults. If I could go back in time, the first thing I would fix would be the times I failed as a parent. I know he worries about them – their safety, if they are happy, how they are succeeding. But he doesn’t take on the extra baggage that if they are not happy or safe or succeeding, that it is his fault.
I knew the next questions would take him out of his comfort zone a little. I didn’t want him to think I was fishing for compliments or that I was going to ask a “Do I Look Fat” No-Win-Doomed-Husband question. I wanted an honest answer, so I explained the blogfest and why I was asking.
By now he had the deer in the headlights look, so I eased into it by asking him if, when he saw a buff man on TV – like the guy in the Super Bowl Calvin Klein ad – he felt pressure to look like that. His “No” was quick and confident. And, expected. I already knew those weren’t the sorts of things that kept him awake at night (pretty much NOTHING keeps him awake at night. Except maybe the occasional bout of heartburn. And sex. Sometimes. If we are lucky and both of us are awake and don’t have heartburn). I replied with “You realize that women are the exact opposite. That we see a model on TV and then beat ourselves up because we don’t look like that. That we look in the mirror and all we see are faults.” He nodded carefully, sensing Wife-Seems-Pissed-About-Something – Proceed With Caution.
I blurted the last question. “So, what makes me beautiful to you? And you can’t say my boobs. And you don’t have to answer right away. I know I am putting you on the spot and you aren’t always comfortable with this kind of stuff.” I was surprised to find myself nervous at his answer and a little uncomfortable myself. I rarely think of myself in terms of beautiful. I know that’s wrong, and I want to change that. This was my first major step. Again, without hesitation, he said, “Your smile. And your personality – people like you and want to be around you, want to be your friend. And that you get along with everyone, even the people you don’t like.” Wow. And all this time, I thought it was my boobs. Old guy just might get lucky tonight.