The Stopping and The Looking

The Stopping and The Looking

Before you read any more of this post, take a few minutes and go read this one; without reading that post, this one might not make much sense.

My husband and I don’t disagree on much. Before we met we’d both been through horrible relationships. We knew what we wanted, and we definitely knew what we didn’t want, in a marriage. And we do NOT want to have a cookie-cutter marriage. (We certainly don’t have one. If you’ve met my husband, you know what I mean. The man is Crazy — the best kind of Crazy.)

I am blessed that he always tells me he loves me. He always tells me I’m beautiful.

If the one person in this whole world from whom I want to hear it gives me that lovely input on a consistent basis, then why don’t I feel it?

There are things he sees in me that I simply don’t — can’t — see. I disagree with nearly every compliment he gives me (not aloud, so much, anymore, but always in my head). Why can’t I agree with him on these things?

It’s because of The Stopping. And The Looking.

If you read the article I linked above, then you know what I’m talking about.

My husband says he sees beauty in my laugh lines and wrinkles. He’s touched by the five-person-exit that is my c-section scar. He’s accustomed to busting into whatever room I’m in, door swinging, Kramer-like, and shouting, “You’ve got a great ass, Harling!”

Yet I can not agree with him.

And now I finally know why. Now, it seems so incredibly simple.

I harbor the constant thought that I Can Not Live Up To That.

“That” is the idea of female perfection that is thrust upon all of us, everywhere, all of the time. It truly is inescapable. And it truly is bullshit.

I feel like I’ve fought for my boys’ brains their entire lives. I’ve railed against what the world has told them a “real woman” is, because the world’s idea of what a real woman is couldn’t be further from the truth. I’ve tried to instill in them an appreciation for people’s actions over their outward appearance, and I’ve done all of this with a ferocity I honestly didn’t know I had. (One son’s huge lesson in how much a person’s actions speak to how much they love you: I chased a guy who had pulled a gun on my kid about five seconds before I pulled up to pick him up. Yeah. Fierce. Don’t mess with my kids. And don’t try to mess with my kids’ heads, either.)

If I look at my boys’ actions and listen to the things they say, I think I’ve done a decent job of teaching them what a real woman is. But, how can I know for sure? I mean, look at what we’re up against here. Too many people, men and women alike, think:

  • A woman’s worth comes solely from her partner’s opinion of her.
  • Women don’t deserve equal pay.
  • Women owe men their bodies.
  • Women are weak.
  • Women need to be perfect in every way.

Now, most men don’t understand why women feel this way. They don’t understand it because they don’t think like that, and I could never say enough about how grateful I am for the many, many men who do not engender these kinds of ignorant thoughts.

However, as Dan points out…

Guys, when you Stop, and when you Look, it doesn’t matter how many times you’ve told the woman in your life how beautiful she is or how much you love her; every Look completely negates every compliment you’ve ever given that woman and replaces it with negativity and pressure. Guys… read that line again. Seriously. You may not believe it, you may not understand it, but it is absolutely True. Every lingering glance at digitally-created perfection on a magazine cover, every click on a pretty actress’s Google image listing, raises the bar in that woman’s head to the unattainable standard that society has set.

And pretty soon, as Dan eloquently points out, a guy can find himself in the horrid predicament of not being attracted to anything that is real.

How to fix this? I can’t pretend to know, really, except for two things:

  • Women: you are Real. You are amazing. You are worthy. Find that worth in yourself and stop depending so much on needing that input from the men in your life.
  • Men: make your actions match your words. Try to overcome the falsified societal pressures of what Beautiful is. Make sure you aren’t accidentally taking away every positive thing you’ve ever said to that woman in your life with the habit of Stopping and Looking.

 

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