Thursday, 8 April 2010

Looking one's best

"When she lives independently of Bill, she forgets how much time she has to spend pretending to be better or prettier or nicer than she really is. She had waxed her legs, shaved her armpits, tweezered her face, and is now so stiff with foundation, powder, blusher and lipstick she feels that if she smiles too much half her face may fall off. Polly, whose normal appearance is that of a small woman who has had an unfortunate encounter with a tornado, has even had her hair done, and is also wearing the kind of reinforced underpants that women who have had babies tend to resort to." (Amanda Craig, Hearts and Minds)

Of course if you ask a man, he'll say he's quite happy with his partner as she is, and actually it's other women she's trying to impress, not him. To which the woman will reply that he may say that but he thinks differently. In reality he wants her to be slimmer and sexier than all the other women he meets and he'll go off her pretty fast if she isn't.

I think there are both types of men, some more accepting of women as they really are than others. Hopefully I fall into the first camp and I don't expect women to go to those ridiculous lengths to fit some artificial glossy stereotype.

Mind you, it works the other way round as well. Some women don't mind men in the raw, men who make no effort at all to be what women want them to be. But other women recoil from such selfishness and want their guy to be attractive, emotionally sensitive, solvent, domesticated, sociable and generous. They can be equally critical of men who don't meet their exacting high standards.

If that means expecting men to be civilised and considerate and act like mature human beings, fair enough. If it means expecting them to be supermen who'll rescue them from every disaster and cater for their every need, that's asking the impossible. Nobody's that perfect.


  1. I don't ask for a lot, and i don't do a lot, but there are minimum standards of personal hygiene that more people should adhere to!

  2. Neither has to be perfect Nick, but both together can have a perfect relationship with total acceptance of each other as they are. It is not as rare as one would imagine. The older couples seem to have it.

  3. Meno - Absolutely, attention to hygiene is a high priority. Usually taken as read with women but some men are still amazingly slovenly.

    Ramana - Yes, if you both accept each other for what you are that makes for a wonderful partnership. I think Jenny and I would score fairly highly on that, though there are still a few things that drive the other nuts!

  4. Hmmm, sub clean for attractive,sub centered for emotionally sensitive, leave in solvent, leave out domesticated, sub friendly for sociable, and sub interesting for generous and I would be happy.

  5. Brighid - Well, that's quite a precise wish-list! Some interesting substitutions. And you're not bothered about domesticated? Surely that's pretty essential? Who wants piles of dirty dishes left out for days?

  6. I never had a list of requirements and after 12 years on my own, I wouldn't know where to start.

  7. Nick, what on earth are you reading?

    I am staggered both at your post and comments - 'astonished' seeming to be my default mode these days.

    Why mention "basic" hygiene in the age of the power shower?

    As to your lament about cemented make-up: Men being focused, and I love them for that alone, will not notice whether you are dolled up or not. The first time it'll come to their attention that you were wearing any lipstick is when questions are asked - back at the ranch - as to where that particular shade on the collar of your shirt comes from.

    Anyway, good to learn that you too can be frothy like an expensive Latte in Starbucks. Not that I drink coffee.


  8. Grannymar - Well, that's good to know. You don't thrust a lot of preconceptions on someone, you're prepared to be open-minded about what they're like.

    Ursula - It's an excellent novel about contemporary London and Londoners. Some people, alas, still don't seem to use such things as showers. And men may not consciously notice make-up but they notice the difference between a woman who's made-up and one who isn't - and usually prefer the first.

    Frothy? You mean this subject isn't serious enough for you? I think I'm usually TOO serious.

  9. I'm probably bang in the middle on this one, being the corporatised, made up Exec Ass by day and the slovenly let it all hang loose lard arse by night. My husband used to say, "You're not going out with any lippy on are you?" I thought it odd because I'd hardly be dressed up just to go to the shops! I prefer natural, clean, tidy . . but at my age, I go way beyond looks and actually like a little vulnerability in men

  10. I can't get past those undies with built-in diapers you mention. I've had children and have not resorted to those things, nor do I need them. Sorry, but I had to put that to rest.

    I don't think people need to look like movie stars - in fact, they're usually more interesting if they don't, but please - basic hygiene should not be optional for anyone.

  11. Sheesh,
    Basic hygiene ain't an option in my book, b'y!

    As to the rest, what an awful lot of superficial work. Not worth it, but some men I've been with expected it. Not any man I'd care to be with full time.

    The men I see now, my GCs, take me as I am, sometimes in the jammies of the day.

    It is such a relief to be in the state of I Yam what I Yam....


  12. Interesting post, Nick, although I've never primped or preened to the extent you mention, but basic hygiene is always a must...

    Both of your questions were answered on my blog...

  13. Baino - The dress code for women in big companies can be pretty restrictive. Woe betide you if you get a single detail wrong! A lot of women like vulnerability in men, but men are often too masculine and tight-arsed to show it....

    Heart - I don't think it's so much diapers as something to flatten the flab! Constricting shapewear is suddenly all the rage again. Hygiene is clearly a big issue, there must be a lot of pongy males out there!

  14. www - One woman I used to know said her ex-husband expected her to be the ultimate female stereotype at all times - miniskirt, push-up bra, make-up, heels, the works. I think that was a major reason she left him.

    e - Hygiene again! You've never primped or preened, even for those very special occasions like weddings?

  15. I fear Husband could easily go down the forgetting to shower road now he's retiring! But he puts up with me slopping round the house in scruffy clothes, flabby belly and all, so I can't object!!

    We'll grow old and eccentric together!

  16. Liz - True, it's easy to let yourself go if you don't have a work routine to follow every day. As long as he doesn't lie in bed all day watching reruns of The Simpsons.

  17. After 30 odd years I can't think of anything that would stop me loving and wanting my wife. I think love is like that. It sees through the outer layer to what lays beneath.

  18. Le Loup - True indeed, real love means you see past all that superficial glossing-up anyway, and what you value is what's there to start with.

  19. A man can say he's not bothered about appearance whilst drooling over a pic of Scarlett Johansson...
    Lust and love are two different things.

  20. Scarlet - Very true. Of course personally I would never be so crass, I'm a perfect gentleman....