There are many beautiful women, of course. But right now I'd like to talk about the one I married.
After seventeen and a half years of knowing her, there are STILL days when she doesn't think she is beautiful. On those days, my protests that she is are brushed aside effortlessly: "you're biased", or, only slightly better, "I'm glad you think so". (At least that second one acknowledges I'm not making the statement up out of thin air.)
Thin, that's part of the problem, of course. Eva is no longer Eva-squared, but there are days when she still thinks she is. And even if it's not one of those days, the slappy flaps of loose skin that are the remnant of having dropped close to two hundred pounds...she thinks those are ugly, and since she has those, SHE must be ugly as well. (Me, I think they're awesome. Eva can clap things other people can't clap. If she really wanted to, she could be a one-woman percussion section, a YouTube sensation. In a sane world.
We don't live in a sane world.
Still "too fat" -- even after bariatric surgery, Eva probably qualifies as morbidly obese, which is flatly ridiculous given her bone structure and density ... flaps ... scars ... if you're of a mindset to see any of these things as ugly, well, you best keep that mindset to yourself around me. Because Eva is a beautiful woman.
All you have to do is LOOK at her. Or, more properly, look at HER.
I've said before: I have known two actual models, people who made money from showing off their
I told both of them that, too. You should have seen the (identical) look on their faces: it was as if a tornado had touched down from a clear blue sky right in front of them. Then they both (identically) huffed up, stared haughtily down their noses at me, and informed me (identically) that I was both ugly AND blind.
I'll cop to ugly. That drives Eva around a bend: I'm so determined to eradicate all traces of her poor body image that I don't bother with my own poor body image. But there's actually a good reason for that: it's because I'll cop to blind, too.
I know I don't see people the way others do. I've known that for years and years. I barely notice bodies at all: you'd have to have some kind of blue fungus growing out of your face, or an extra boob slowly revolving around your abdomen, for me to do any kind of a double-take. Other people don't tend to see things this way, of course.
"When's the last time somebody actually CALLED you ugly, or something like it?" Eva asked me, not long ago.
"In my head? About thirty seconds ago. In real life? Years and years ago. People grow up and learn to hide that shit."
I can actually feel her grinding her teeth. "You're not ugly, you know. You're handsome. Sexy."
"You're biased...but I'm glad you think so."
See, at the time, Eva was the only woman who had told me that. Weighed against many who (used to) say otherwise. And I was just getting over the whole "we take everything personally" thing.
Guys don't tend to get complimented on their looks. Ever. Not unless they are Hollywood stars or the like. It's not just me, it's pretty much everyone. But you take a guy who was (factual statement) a stick-figure nerd through his formative years, add the heaps of scorn that generated, and then impose the silence that males tend to endure? It has consequences.
I'm one to talk. Think what WOMEN deal with.
Because unlike how it is with men, adults never shut up about their perceptions of womanly beauty or (more common) lack thereof. And other women are often the worst about it.
Consider the case of Dani Mathers. Playmate of the Year (naturally). She took a picture of a naked woman in a gym shower without that woman's consent. This is, of course, a criminal act. She then compounded it by plastering it on Snapchat with the caption "If I can't unsee this then you can't either!"
The backlash, I am viciously gratified to see, was instant and severe. The police are involved, as they should be, and personal and professional consequences are raining down on Mathers' oh-so-pretty, oh-so-empty head. Her apology claimed it was a "private conversation" (snort: on Snapchat?!) and...yeah, off to oblivion where you belong, Dani Mathers.
Let's set aside the blatant criminality, the lack of respect and civility, and the utter stupidity. Let's instead note that the women Mathers snapped the picture of appears to be somebody's idea of "fat". (Not mine.) Ostensibly she was at the gym to exercise. Even by the crazy expectations of society, aren't "fat" women exercising to be commended?
Eva joined an upscale gym for a while back when money was (story here, and it's worth your time). The damned place closed on her, which is really a shame, and then money suddenly was no longer. This was back when she was Eva-squared, and it took a HUGE amount of courage for her to go and work out in the company of other humans. She was, as I believe I make clear in that entry, the fittest fatty you'd never expect to meet, and she would bamboozle the alpha males who would go to use the equipment after her and find that it took most of their strength to budge the weights my wife had been lifting with relative ease. God, I love that thought eight years later. Subverted expectations always make me grin.
I tend to subvert expectations myself. Especially when it comes to not caring about bodies.
Which isn't to say I don't take pleasure in exploring bodies, given (of course) informed consent: I do, scads of it. Hell, I'll go so far as to admit there are certain physical characteristics I do find attractive: peaches and cream skin, heavy on the cream is one such. The lack of that characteristic goes entirely unnoticed, though.
It's always been the same set of qualities that define beauty for me:
- inner strength
- an infectious smile that actually reaches her eyes
- a total lack of pretence.
Put those five together in one package and I don't give a hoot what you look like, you're a knockout.
Eva has them all, in copious amounts. Her empathy is off the charts: she can instantly grasp competing viewpoints and synthesize them with compassion. People have been telling her she's weak since she was about ten, and she keeps on keeping on, proving them wrong, no matter what life throws at her. I love to get that smile out, it brightens the world.
I've known many women more intelligent than my wife in one way or another. But I have never known, nor are ever likely TO know, a woman (a person, really) with such a high level of so many intelligences.
And then there's the lack of pretence.
Now, being around me for any length of time will probably lower your maintenance level at least a little. You can spend three hours in the bathroom getting ready and while I will compliment you when you finally emerge, you'd get the same compliment laying in bed after a restless night with a case of foo-foo-bunny-head, or lounging around the house in whatever grubby thing you happened to grab.
This took Eva a long time to grasp. I get that: sometimes it must be difficult not to mistake my indifference for indifference. But I saw a poster just now on Facebook that prompted this blog:
That's me. Every time.
Here's how far I go: I don't care if you shave your legs or your pits. I truly don't. Hair removal by women has gone in and out of fashion over the centuries and its most recent, roughly century-long vogue is only the product of a marketing campaign that, like so many others, preyed upon poor body image. Women have been jerked around like this for roughly ever: be thin! be smooth! be thin! wear makeup so nobody will see how hideous you really look! be thin! It's sickening, really. And I refuse to encourage it in any way.
I will grant that makeup, smooth skin, lingerie, anything like that does seem to raise self-image. (Lingerie: never understood that stuff. Isn't that coming off? I want to gaze upon what's under it. Scars, skin flaps, whatever...show it to me so I can kiss it. As long as it isn't, you, know, blue fungus or something.
Women spend countless billions of dollars on products and procedures to raise their self-images. I don't know how much of an alternative I really am, but I have the virtue of being free.
Eva thinks of herself as an 'earth mother' type and that's pretty apt. She is the definition of low-maintenance: I'd be willing to bet she'd have to think a minute before she could locate her makeup case (which is tiny as those things go) and she colours her hair every once in a very blue moon just to change things up, not even caring about the grey. And I say hurray at that, because in a sane world people in their twenties would be colouring their hair grey in an effort to appear older and wiser.
We do not live in a sane world.
Of course Eva will sometimes get herself dolled up, for Ken-values of "dolled up", because it pleases her to do so and she likes the vibe she gives off and draws in. I've told her, starting before we were even married...hey, if you're doing it for yourself, whatever "it" is...go to. Just don't feel obligated to do it for me.
I think she gets me now. And it makes her more beautiful than ever.