Thursday, March 6

Who knew? Men crave real bodies..

I just a read an article at entitled "Why men crave real (not perfect) bodies" and am so disappointed! The byline below the articles states that "actor Gabriel Olds has dated his fair share of surgically enhanced women. Now he tells us why most men prefer the real deal-'flaws' and all."
When I first read Olds' article I was kind of impressed by his attitude. He talks about dating women who have had plastic surgery and his belief that surgery somehow "implie[s] a lack of confidence. It was as if something purchased to say, 'Hey, check me out,' actually said, “I don’t like myself very much.” Given the pressure society places upon us to be tall, skinny and well-endowed this seems like a slightly obvious but still noteworthy explanation. Olds' also mentions that a lot of this pressure comes directly from male behavior, and cites men trading in their wives and partners for 'newer models' as the impetus for a lot of the cuttting and stitching payed for by women. As Olds' talks us through several of his most intimate relationships with women, he talks about nose jobs, boob jobs, and lip work-- and explains how in almost every situation he found himself initially attracted but ultimately repelled by these women who had changed their bodies to fit some type of ideal. I found myself feeling pretty sexy and satisfied by the article, especially when he wrote that when men enter into a relationship they suddenly start seeing their partner's body as the ideal.
Olds' article didn't start to bother me until I started writing about the experience of reading about how men see women's bodies, and what they look for in a partner. While I definitely agree that societal pressure exists, and that women often make decisions about their bodies that are not truly in their best self-interest, Olds' entire article reeked of paternalism. When he talks about the plastic Hollywood, he's only talking about the women. He conveniently forgets that Simon Cowell recently admitted that he gets Botox once a year-- and you can't tell me that he gets poison injected under his skin because he likes the feeling, or that he's the only man in the business who pays to look 'better.' Instead of writing an article to reassure women that men like real women even with their 'flaws,' perhaps Olds' should be examining why he finds himself attracted over and over again to women who 'perfected' themselves via plastic surgery . Although he describes one relationship with a plastic-surgery free woman, she still has a culturally idealized body: tall, fit, and cute. Her flaw? Her breasts are slightly different sizes. Perhaps Olds' should do a little anatomical research, because many women's breasts are asymmetrical! Something that occurs naturally in many women isn't exactly what I would call a flaw.
Ultimately, I think Olds' missed the boat on this one. He could have written about how plastic surgery is consuming our culture, that men and women alike change their bodies to fit a cultural ideal without changing their attitudes to their own bodies. He could have written about how much he enjoys women who love how they look- whether or not they CHOSE to change it via surgery. Next time he decides to take a break from his day job and write about relationships, I hope he writes about his own attitudes; how maybe the problem isn't only with plastic surgery, but with those who deign to reassure those of us who embrace our 'flaws' that we are still sexy, and what men really want.