Thursday, April 07, 2005

Beauty and the Beast

In a classic column from 1998, Dave Barry pondered the dilemma men face when a woman asks, "How do I look?" This question terrifies men, as does its companion query, "Does this make me look fat?"

When asked these questions, men have to carefully think through various answers they might give, but they have to answer within approximately one nanosecond because delay is also subject to interpretation. Telling the truth has nothing to do with it, as any man lucky enough to survive his first truthful answer knows. In the nanosecond available for thought, men must strike a balance between the truth and a compliment that could be interpreted as less than sincere. This is the greatest source of stress faced by modern men.

However, as Dave points out, men think differently about their appearance:

Most men, I believe, think of themselves as average-looking. Men will think this even if their faces cause heart failure in cattle at a range of 300 yards. Being average does not bother them; average is fine, for men. This is why men never ask anybody how they look. Their primary form of beauty care is to shave themselves, which is essentially the same form of beauty care that they give to their lawns. ...

Women do not look at themselves this way. If I had to express, in three words, what I believe most women think about their appearance, those words would be: ''Not good enough.'' No matter how attractive a woman may appear to be to others, when she looks at herself in the mirror, she thinks: Woof. ...

Why do women have such low self-esteem? There are many complex psychological and societal reasons, by which I mean Barbie. Girls grow up playing with a doll proportioned such that, if it were a human, it would be seven feet tall and weigh 81 pounds, of which 53 pounds would be bosoms.

Read the whole column. Dave is worth the irritation of registering with the Miami Herald.


Blogger Francesca said...

As a woman (who thinks she sometimes looks pretty fat!) who is married to a man who is honest to a fault, I really enjoyed this article!

10:56 AM, April 07, 2005  
Blogger Bill O. Writes said...

If a woman asked me this I would have to respond, "Do I get a blindfold, and cigarette first?" (I know better than to ask for a last meal.) Whatever I said would be wrong, like "compared to what?"

For a man to survive that question, he would need a 10 gighertz processor, and a 100 gigabyte flash memory of correct answers. Of course, any answer can not be used twice, or she thinks he's lying.


You look nice to me, Francesca.

1:50 PM, April 07, 2005  
Blogger Zelda said...

My feeling is, if a woman is so uncertain about how she looks that she has to ask someone (in this case her husband/boyfriend), then chances are nothing anyone says will placate her.

In other words, if you're that uncertain about your appearance or what you're wearing, you most likely need to wear something else.

It's the same thing as shopping for clothing. If you have to ask a friend or saleswoman if something looks good on you, you have no business buying it. You buy what you like and feel good in. It's really quite simple.

12:43 PM, April 15, 2005  
Blogger Zelda said...

By the way, Tom, I tried leaving a comment on this post the other day, and got an error message. Something about file not being found. Have you considered moving off Blogger?

12:47 PM, April 15, 2005  
Blogger emcrorie said...

Do women really ask this questions? The closest I come is to ask if there is any cat hair stuck on my black pants. (we have it's very possible.)

3:24 PM, April 16, 2005  

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