Monday, April 2, 2012

Battle of the Sexy Sexes! (In which we all just look like chumps.)

I've been reading "Bossypants" by Tina Fey (I love her more than chili cheese fries) and there are a few sections in her book about what women go through to "be pretty" and the cycle of insecurity that it perpetuates.  I nearly peed in my pants when I read the first part because it's so funny, and so I went down to EM and EM's fiance's apartment to share in the hilarity, and what ensued was a rather unexpectedly heated discussion about who had it worse, men or women.  Since then, I've done a lot of thinking about the subject, and the conclusion that I came to is that we all lose.  Join me on this journey to discovery, won't you?

At first, I was pretty sure women had it worse than men.  As a female, I consider myself to be mostly low maintenance (don't all girls, though?) but there was a period of my life when I liked to spend my time getting dolled up.  Cleverly, much of this time was in college, so I figure when I die and get to the Pearly Gates, St. Peter is gonna be flipping through the book of my life and get to my college years and hopefully not see all of the shady, unpleasant things that I did while intoxicated because it's one big montage of hair curling and lip lining, and he'll just be all, "Yeah, you spent a LOT of time just getting ready to go out, so I guess I'll just skip forward here..." Because I did.  Hours.  Added up, probably at least 3 times more than the time that I was actually out.  But damn, I looked good doing it!  (For the time that I was sober, so after that first 15 minutes it was all drool and drunk eyes.)  Even now, as a low maintenance gal (that is my story and I'm sticking to it), I still have entire days devoted to grooming.  Seriously.  I'm going to give you a look behind the veil of what the average woman goes through.

We have days that we have to pre-groom.  These are days we need to:  dye our roots and/or hair, pluck or wax eyebrows, shave the entirety of our bodies, exfoliate, moisturize, deep condition, anti-age, buff, polish, trim, etc.  Hell, there are several steps to just WASHING your face if you're a girl.  It's never just soap. It's a cleanser, then a gentle exfoliation, then a facial mask, then toner and moisturizer.  Oh, the moisturizer.  It is most likely something freakishly expensive, like ground up baby fetuses that we slather over our skin to hide wrinkles and blemishes and everything else that shows we are human and we are imperfect and might have wrinkles or oily T-zones.  And that's just pre-grooming, you guys.  That does not include what we still have to go through on a daily basis to style hair, apply makeup, and accessorize our outfits with squish-suppressing underwear usually made of the torture devices known as Lycra and Spandex.

I'm made of Photoshop!
My point is, it is exhausting.  And even then, after everything that we go through, after all of the money that we spend, absolutely none of us thinks we look good naked.  There are industries upon industries that market to our insecurities.  I'm not even getting into plastic surgery here.  If you ask the average girl what she likes about herself, she might not know how to respond.  But, if you ask her what she dislikes about herself, she's got a list a mile long.

Now, I can hear you men yelling at me.  "But I like a natural looking woman!  I hate a woman who takes forever to get ready and wears tons of makeup!  I think that's awful!"  First of all, shut up, you dirty, dirty liar.  You cannot honestly expect us women to believe you like women to look "natural," when "natural" to you is Megan Fox rolling around all dewy and fresh-faced in sheets in some Maxim spread.  If you really believe that's what women look like in the morning, you are probably wearing a helmet and eating paste.  Trust me.  EM is a professional makeup artist, and it takes more makeup to look "natural" than if some stripper came in asking for a smokey eyeshadow application and body glitter all over.  Natural, to women, means greasy hair in a ponytail, no makeup (but somehow always smudges of yesterday's eyeliner), weird pimple cream on our zits, baggy tee-shirts, and some kind of soft, flannel, pajama pants.  We love natural, too, you see.  We just don't want you to see it.  I even know girls who, if staying with their boyfriend overnight, will get up early, run into the bathroom to brush their teeth and put a "natural" face on (powder, mascara, lip balm) and rush back into bed so that they can pretend that they're waking up looking that good when their man wakes up.

Not that I am maligning the beauty industry, because I play along just as much as everyone else.  I don't want to leave my house without makeup on.  I don't want to be seen with my hair or my clothes other than put-together, but I accept that much of it is about illusion.  Do I really believe that some dreamboat is going to look at me and think, "Yeah, I bet she rolls out of bed looking like that every day!  I BETTER PUT A RING ON IT!"?  No, because that's unrealistic.  It will not, however, stop me from wanting to at least have a face on if I have to run errands somewhere.

So yes, being a girl is tough.  But EM's fiance reminded me that there are industries that market to men's insecurities, too, and while they may not be the same things as women, it's still based on being "good enough."  Men are supposed to have abdominal muscles and pectoral muscles and biceps that people only get by drinking raw eggs and doing sit ups until you herniate something in your spine, and while you're at it, fight genetics with pills like Enzyte to make your junk bigger and longer lasting with Viagra and Cialis, and then smear some Rogaine on your head (because women hate balding men, didn't you know?) and hop into a car that you can't actually afford to make payments on, and then, ONLY THEN, will we with vaginas give you the time of day.  If we aren't PMSing, and if we want you to buy us something, that is.  All in all, I feel bad for guys.  I do.  Women might have more things to worry about in terms of body image, but I can at least pass for attractive without having to convince myself that I need a Mercedes to attract a mate.  (Which, if you think that, I would assume are the same helmet-wearing, paste-eating person that believes porn and romcoms dictate romance.  NO!  NO!  ::spray bottle:: NO!)

My conclusion is that it's all a fucking shitshow.  A circus.  "Enhancing" your appearance to look more attractive isn't a new idea, and it's not one that will go away.  It isn't even exclusively human.  The important thing is knowing where to draw the line, I guess.  To that end, no gender really comes out on top.  No one really has it harder than the other (haha, 'harder') because it's difficult in different ways.  So, don't judge a book by its cover, don't think you're any worse off than anyone else, and if you meet anyone who thinks they'll find the love of their life just as soon as they get that boob job or that fancypants car, bitch slap them once for me.


  1. I awkwardly laughed aloud at this post at work and my coworker now thinks I'm a little more nuts than she thought I was ten minutes ago.

    That being said, I pretty much agree with EVERYTHING you said, especially because I spent the afternoon yesterday going through a painful pre-grooming process that is kind of like medieval torture.

  2. Ha! Thanks! I awkwardly laugh at a lot of things at work, but people long ago accepted that I was "special." And isn't pre-grooming a bitch?! I wish I had the constitution to just give up and be a dirty hippie. Ugh.

  3. Please don't... We like you "natural" and plucked, but pulling it off like it's no biggie --the same way we eat like truckers but then spend the next four days running up and down hills to make sure we don't end up looking like Santa...

  4. I'm late to this party, but as I just started dating someone, I feel I have something to share with the group: I recently had a moment where, after he left in the a.m., I glanced in the mirror and saw raccoon eyes staring back. (Yes, that mascara that gets smudged under there when you, uh, you know, have a reason to have your eyes closed for awhile. )I was in stone-cold panic mode til I realized he was probably just happy to be getting laid and he didn't notice. (I hope.) But my point is: maybe men don't notice as much as we do, and we as other women judge each other do. (I hope.)