Tuesday, December 11, 2012


Girl -- big breasts, teeny waist, long, straight, slender legs.  Boy -- broad shoulders, rippling torso, above bulging package.

"No, no, dear, it doesn't matter,"  we tell her, tell him, tell ourselves and our  friends, but it does matter. Everyone notices, and evaluates what they see, with what they are, themselves -- the idea of what's beautiful, desirable that they've learned as they've grown up.

My son, JD, started worrying about  how tall he was going to be when he was 11-years-old. With JD standing against a wall in my office, I started marked  his height with a small horizontal line -- got a lot of horizontal lines on that wall.

Why was he worrying? Because his daddy was six feet tall; because kids in his school were competing and bragging about who was taller; because famous athletes, movie stars, and heroes in books were usually tall men.  Yes, I wondered if he was already concerned about penis size, but didn't discuss it with him, and it's a subject for my Dr. Em self, not what's on my mind right now.

I'm an expert on what a girl wants to look like.  I grew up with heightened awareness of breast size -- my oldest sister said it was a life and death thing for a girl -- if you didn't have big breasts, you were going to be lonely, a wallflower, and you'd probably have to marry the first boy who proposed.

All my life, (and probably yours), fashion magazines, ads for clothes and makeup, have taught us that skinny, slender, young, (girlish or boyish youngness) -- the look of a 13,14, or 15 year-old is wonderful, beautiful, and what you ought to pursue.

The fashion critic I truly respect, Robyn Givhans, headlined her recent article in Newsweek, YES SIZE CONTINUES TO MATTER. She reported that Vogue Magazine promised that they wouldn't hire anorexic 14-year-old-sylphs, but they broke their promise. Vogue and all the other major style people, including the Spring 2013 runway shows in Paris, have been hiring impossibly skinny, extremely young gazelles.

I think we need to blame ourselves.

Who hasn't thought."I looked better last year," and mourned being older? How can you find joy, pride, in the way you look NOW? By strongly not buying into what's stylish.

Don't blind  your eyes, but when you see the gorgeous face in the ad that proves, that guarantees -- that the latest, new, retinol-something or other cream will make your skin look younger, think of a rose. What's more beautiful, a budding rose or one in full bloom?

Grow up kiddies. The obsession with looking young is making you old.


Winslow Eliot said...

I totally agree - and I wish women would impart to girls how fabulous it is to grow older, feel older, and be older. It is harder to fight against the current of the media-ideal body type. Wish there were more lessons in and role models for loving-who-you-are-and-how-you-look-now for all our young people.

OR said...

A great, honest and true to life article, Em. Just one thing: I have always loved tiny pear shaped breasts. Why even skinny girls crave BIG breasts, really baffles me. To each his own, eh!

Louise Sorensen said...

Good one, Em. You don't hold any punches. Penis size!
You're right. Our society doesn't value age, and anyone over 18 worries about being old.
I've done it too. I'm not big enough or mature enogh to believe that I'm good enough, seeing as I keep getting older and older every damn year!
And yet, even as I can see the beauty in a young fresh face, or note that most performers are pretty good looking, or even observe that most actors are exceptionally good looking... when I think of handsome men, I think "Handsome is as handsome does."
We treat people a certain way, depending on their looks. And people learn to act a certain way because of this. Think of the aging film star who can't understand why she's not playing the young female lead anymore.
Don't believe your own publicity.
No matter how we look, we're all just human inside.
I've heard that many men don't ask a hot looking girl out because they think she'll turn them down. And many a hot looking girl spends many a night alone.
My experience with unusually handsome men has not been good. Except for my husband, who didn't realize he was drop dead gorgeous, I found handsome men ignored me(a good thing, it turns out)lounged around waiting for women to entertain them, and used women like kleenex tissues.
Beautiful women I've hung around with (I notice some of them like to have a sidekick) had a certain expectation of adoration by the people around them.
And yet, under all that, they're just human beings.
We are shaped by the world around us. If it lets us get away with things because of the way we look, we learn to get away with whatever we can. After all, no one is forcing anyone to do anything. Right?
But eons of evolution have programmed us to appreciate symmetry in the human face as a sign of health and perfection.
Though anyone who's ever lived with a drop dead gorgeous (Please pardon my language. I've read a lot of Stephen King, and I'm reading Elmore Leonard right now. No excuse I know, but I'm sticking to it.)bitch or son of a bitch is going to tell you that evolution sometimes lies.
In any event, as I was going to tweet later on today, Life isn't fair, but it's also what you make of it.
Rock on, Em.
Louise Sorensen
louise3anne twitter

Maureen Jacobs said...

I, for one, am an only child who had an overprotective single mother. My biggest issue growing up was if I ever would find a friend, let alone a boyfriend. I recall my godmother telling my mother that hopefully I would have a bigger chest than my mother. Evidently bigger was better. I also recall people asking my mother if I was a model. Everything growing up was about being beautiful, developed, etc. To me, it was all hogwash. My mother made sure that I knew I was smart. She also encouraged me to rely on my brains and not my beauty. She knew I was beautiful but thought the external attributes came second.

Wise woman but not so wise friends.

Today, at 41, I am beautiful, I am full figured mom, my boobs have headed south of the border, and I love myself and everything about myself. It is who I am.


Anonymous said...

Great blog Em! yOU discussed "big" to the fullest extent and remember growing up I wondered how I would turn out. Now, over the hill and 59, if I bent over any further my breasts would touch the ground-sagging is an issue now. I am plus sized but happy. Beauty is only skin deep I think. kam

Gus said...

Em, elegant and true. Dare I say it as ugly as I am, I have to keep believing that a lady will one day say:"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder", 'and, I find you perfect gus'. A man can dream can't he. Ha, ha!

Anonymous said...

Too many questions, too many concerns are all suffocating us, how old are you? where do you live, where do you work, what do you do? It is endless and meaningless? why not ask, what made you laugh today? What tasty food did you eat today? what have you read lately? What have you done lately to make you feel happy? If we fill our head with interest and passion and jokes we'll have less room to be obsessed with how thin, how old and how we look, we'll just look happy and feel younger.