I’m striking a blow for closing the gender gap. No, I’m not campaigning for equal pay for equal work, or not having women’s careers suffer because it falls to our gender to push the next generation into the world after it masses at our pelvises for 9 months, or even for research into treatment for post-menopausal libido and getting tight-fisted insurance companies to actually pay for it the way they throw money at erectile dysfunction. Nope. I wish I could be so lofty-minded and reach so far, but I am carrying on my crusade in a different way.
For years I’ve been told that men objectify women simply because men are more visually-oriented. “Men can’t help their inability to look past your breasts, butt, legs, eyes, or lips—it is in their biology. They are just more visually-oriented.” And, I’ve also heard it said that looks aren’t as important to women as they are to men. Men look for women who are arm-candy and women look for men with “personality” and “stability”.
And this is where I make my stand. If guys are going to look at me and evaluate me based on my looks before they ever get to know me, then I say turnabout is fair play. Let’s see just how far personality gets you, jackass.
I’m not suggesting that I’m going to start evaluating every guy I meet based on looks. Not at all. I’m saying I already do that. And if that sounds shallow to you men out there, consider what you look at when you first meet a woman. Is it her character? Is it her sparkling wit? Or is it whether the junk in her trunk offsets the allure of her blouse bunnies?
I tweeze, tone, exfoliate, watch what I eat, aerobicize, groom, choose to wear clothes that fit, close my mouth when I chew my food, and only eat spinach in public with extreme caution. But, culturally-speaking, I’m supposed to get excited about a guy who has made no effort with his health or appearance or manners solely because he’s single and, according to his doting mother, has a great personality? That hardly seems fair. Especially since he’s looking at my breasts trying to figure out exactly what percentage is me and what percentage is gel bra, all while I’m supposed to be admiring his inner beauty.
Yep, men you are on notice. For me, it just isn’t good enough for you to maintain a steady diet of junk-food and pair it with no exercise and rumpled clothes from the bottom of your closet that you’ve owned since college. You aren’t 17 anymore, your mother shouldn’t still be choosing your underwear for you. It isn’t the mid-90s anymore so unless you are a lumberjack there is no reason to wear over-sized, raggedy flannel shirts. Unless you are McSteamy, Santa, Freud, ZZ Top, or Wolverine, forget the facial hair. I don’t care if Justin Timberlake is wearing a beard, on you it isn’t bringing sexy back, its bringing back Neanderthal man. And, unless you are actually on a basketball court, there is no good reason to wear those awful polyester basketball shorts.
Despite the myth of conventional wisdom, women are into looks. We’re not solely into looks, but we are into them. After all, they don’t put fat guys with lots of back hair on the cover of romance novels. Here’s the difference in how we approach and value attractiveness: men look at women as if we are already furnished, designer decorated houses, but women look at men more like fixer-upper homes, the kind that need a lot of work. Guys look at their brides (who starved themselves for a couple months to fit in that stupid dress) as if they’ll always look that way. Brides look at their grooms and think, “Well, it’s a start. But what is going on with his hair?”
Women are not involved with a guy for too long before we start the improvement process. And it is a process. At restaurants we’ll get you to try our salads. In stores we will see something better than anything in your closet and work our flattery to get you to try it on. When people move in together the socks, underwear, and t-shirts with holes in them start to mysteriously disappear—maybe it was a “laundry mishap”, maybe it was leprechauns, who knows. Without you even having to think about it or make an effort you have healthier cereal in the cupboard and dentist and doctor appointments scheduled for you. We remind you to get haircuts. We tell you when you have spinach in your teeth. We tell you not to wear the wrinkled shirt or that really ugly tie. We go to the gym with you. We gently suggest that you abandon the comb-over because it isn’t fooling anyone.
This is why we get so pissed off when you tell us something makes us look fat. Who wants to take fashion advice from the guy who thinks his dumpy, worn out corduroy shorts are still dope?
I have heard my male friends go on and on about the acceptable amount of cellulite on a woman’s body, the proper length of hair and shade of highlights, and adequate skin care regimens. They have opinions on everything from the kinds of heels we should wear to attract them, to the great importance of a well-maintained landing strip. These dear, dear men of my acquaintance think nothing of women devoting all this time and energy to make themselves attractive to men. And yet, I haven’t heard any of these paragons talk about improving themselves so women will be interested in them. So, in the interest of equality and full-disclosure, here are a couple of my must haves for the male species.
• Trim your nose hair. If it looks like you have a cheap toupee bunched in each nostril, or even if it looks like a couple spider legs creeping out of your nose, it is time to trim. Use scissors, a trimmer, a weed whacker, garden shears, I don’t care. Just trim it. I find that even the guys who seem to care about their appearances are prone to overlooking this one. How am I supposed to carry on a conversation with you when I’m watching something from your nose reach out to tickle your lip?
• Health—more than a class you slept through in high school. Sedentary lifestyles and poor diets contribute to obesity and it’s myriad health problems. You don’t have to be an Iron Man competitor or a nutritionist, but it is nice to know a guy gets some exercise on a regular basis and has a basic understanding that what he eats affects his health. I don’t want to wonder if he is actively attempting to get type II diabetes, or have to check to make sure he has his heart medication and portable defibrillator when we go out.
• Fit isn’t just for condoms. How in or out of style your clothes are isn’t as important as whether or not your clothes fit. That said, it helps if your clothing looks like it belongs in the current decade and is age- and activity-appropriate. If you have gained weight, lost weight, had a growth spurt, or just had a bad experience doing laundry, it is probably time to go shopping. Tugging buttons on a shirt or your pants make you look fatter than you are. Things that are too big and sloppy make you look like a hobo. If your belly sticks out from under your shirt…you really need help.
• Hygiene, it’s not just for women. We’re not talking about manscaping, back-waxing, or eye-brow tweezing, nope we’re talking about regular showers, deodorant use, tooth brushing and flossing. Am I stating the bleeding obvious? Yes. But I say it anyway because I find plenty of guys neglecting it and that just amazes me. If you feel like doing the rest of that stuff, that’s fine, but make sure you take care of the basics. I don’t care how good your eye-brows look if you smell like you’ve been cleaning a pig-sty during a heat-wave in August. And, I don’t care how dandy your conversational skills are if your breath smells like road kill.
• Manners. Good manners show respect to those around you. When a guy chews with his mouth open, holds his fork like a bike handle, takes calls from other people while we are out together, ignores the living, breathing person in front of him in favor of texting, or is rude to my friends. We don’t have a future.
Well, there it is, my bare minimum. This is not to say that any guy who trims his nose hair, eats well, exercises, dresses with some degree of skill, doesn’t stink, and chews with his mouth closed automatically gets a second look, but it certainly increases his chances.