A Woman’s Physical Appearance and Confidence

Why, particularly for women, is physical appearance inextricably tied with confidence? Sure, we’ve all heard “Look good, feel great,” which I do think is true to some extent, for both genders, but that is not the topic for this post. What I’m talking about here is if a woman says she doesn’t care much about how she looks, people automatically assume that she is lacking in confidence and that she does not believe her body is worth the effort to look good. While it could be true in some cases, it isn’t always that way. Everything that I state here is the opinion of one woman, so while there definitely are women who think differently, it is likely that there are others who have similar attitudes.

Not wearing makeup or shaving legs on a regular basis has little, if anything, to do with one’s sense of self worth. I don’t regularly wear makeup because I don’t think it’s important, not because I don’t think I’m important. Can’t a woman simply not find those things necessary to do because she thinks there are more significant things for her to focus on than looking pretty?

I have classes to attend. Outside of class I spend most of my time in my room or in the library, studying (or attempting to study). I have a fifty-paged thesis to write by the end of July. These things are currently a higher priority to me than my superficial appearance. There are some girls who care about it all and can pull it off. They always show up to class fashionably dressed, with makeup on, and manicured nails. Good for them; they are they, and I am I.

When I say I don’t care much about my physical appearance, I am referring to makeup, styling my hair, manicures, dressing fashionably, and wearing sexy but uncomfortable shoes. Note that I did not say “I don’t care [at all] about my physical appearance.” I am not saying that I think it’s fine for me to look like a total slob. I still care about my health, hygiene, and basic grooming. I shower, brush my teeth and floss every day. I remove unwanted hairs from my face and axillae when needed. My nails are always clean and I trim and shape them every two weeks. I do my best to stay fit by eating a balanced diet and exercising nearly every day. I am happy with my weight. It is a healthy weight for my height, and that is what matters to me.* Bottom line is: a woman can express love for her body by eating healthy foods, engaging in regular physical activity, maintaining good hygiene, and not engaging in self-destructive behavior.

To me, makeup is icing on the cake. While I will admit that I do look prettier with some eyeliner and mascara on, it simply isn’t important enough for me to use it every day. I go natural because I don’t see a need to hide any imperfections on my face. If I really wanted to let all my blemishes bother me, I would be walking around with a paper bag over my head. In my opinion, a lot of it is mind over matter. I will, however, use makeup for photos and important events.

I might fret more about my appearance when I first become interested in a man, but currently, none of the guys I’m surrounded by on a daily basis are ones that I’d actually want to attract. Besides, the special men in my life found me attractive the way I naturally am. I understand that there are men with different preferences, and they’ll seek women who share the same priorities.

In no way am I implying that women who put a lot of effort into their physical appearance are insecure. Everyone has their own style, and it’s important to be respectful and to not make assumptions about people based on their appearance.

*If you’re wondering, I am 5’5″ and 125 lbs. I think that I have a nice body underneath my clothes. While I have turned heads in the past by wearing a halter top and mini skirt, I no longer seek such attention. The only people who get to see more of my body are those who deserve to.

Written 5/11/13

Can men and women be platonic friends? My comments on the ladder theory

For those of you not familiar with the ladder theory, it’s an explanation of how men and women are attracted to each other, and provides an answer to the question of whether or not men and women can be platonic friends.

I acknowledge that the 1-2 ladder scheme illustrates the “fundamental difference in outlook between men and women.” I understand that having one ladder means he’ll be thinking, “how much do I want to fuck her?” and rank the woman he just saw according to that. The answer can sometimes be “not much” or more likely “not as much as I want to fuck [another person].” However, by only having one ladder, it presents men as only wanting sexual relationships with women, and from my observations, that does not seem to be the case. Although the author acknowledges that there are women clinging to the bottom of the man’s ladder that make a guy want to “chew [his] own arm off to get away [from] rather than fuck them,” the man’s ladder is presented as a continuum between “would actively like to fuck” and “would fuck drunk and not admit to it.” I can see how it would make sense if the guy was very desperate for sex, but all the guys I know aren’t desperate.

The conclusion of the ladder theory is that a man can only be friends with a woman if 1) he’s gay, 2) he’s not attracted to her, and 3) he already has someone else who is higher on his ladder. Now, I agree with this, but I think that men do have a friends ladder for the women they don’t find sexually appealing. I’ve had male friends who weren’t attracted to me, and I know this because I don’t match their preferences. (For example, the superficial boob guy is not satisfied with breasts smaller than a C cup.) You can usually tell if a guy is attracted to a lady if he approached her. In all my experiences, when a guy (who wasn’t already in a relationship) approached me, he later revealed his attraction to me. The male friends who weren’t attracted to me were the ones that I initiated friendships with.

Even a guy wrote “I have other very close female friends with whom I have never pursued any kind of physical relationship—because I’m not physically attracted to them.” Regarding his relationship with his friend Juliet: “we weren’t physically attracted to each other in any significant way, and as a result, we were able to explore a different kind of relationship.”

Actually, it appears that the man doesn’t even need to be in a relationship with someone higher on his ladder. He just needs to have his rankings: “It’s not that I found her unattractive, but both times we kissed, I would rather have been with someone else.” This is additional evidence as to why I don’t think guys are so desperate as to want to have sex with, to different extents, every girl they know. All the guys I know tend to be choosier. Perhaps there should be a cutoff point on the man’s ladder for women he’s not interested in sexually? (If that actually exists.)

So my conclusion is, men and women can be platonic friends as long as no one is physically attracted enough to the other. It doesn’t mean that he can only be friends with her if he thinks she’s unattractive. After all, the superficial boob guy said he wouldn’t hang out with a girl who is ugly; as long as she’s “cute” in some way, even if not romantic potential, he’d be friends with her—but then he’s extremely superficial, so I’d stay away from guys like him.

I still doubt that it’s that simple. After all, having something that both people can relate to is important for friendships. As a male friend once said, “It seems like when friendships start sexually, it appears impossible to have a meaningful non-sexual relationship if the spark dies. When relationships start as friends, then the friendship seems to be able to continue even if the relationship becomes (and then stops being) sexual.”

I am still a bit confused, so I’m curious as to what men have to say about the ladder theory. Ladies are also welcome to share their insights.

Originally posted on Xanga on 6/8/11