Disclaimer: This will be the first in probably A LOT of posts about beauty and/or my mother. I love her very much, and like every woman with a mother-figure in their lives during adolescence, she impacted my ideas about beauty, sexuality, and men. And like most women, those ideas have transformed into my own theology since I have become an adult myself.
My mind keeps wandering to the connection between yearning for external beauty and my mother. Everyone’s mother has their own personal definition of beauty, which they inevitably pass on to their daughters, if they are so blessed.
My own mother never gave a—how do I say this—high value to physical beauty. There was never encouragement to wear in-style clothes, get my nails done, wax my errant hairs, or make sure every strand of hair was in place. She was (and still is) very practical, down to earth, and she raised me to believe that a man will love me for my mind, not my body, blah blah, etc. Except that’s not really what she believes. At the age of 64, my mother finally let it slip that she thinks that beauty and a great body are, well, 99% of snagging a man. This sent my tail spinning, let me tell you.
I was overweight my entire childhood and throughout college, and therefore I forgive my mother (mostly) for telling me that physical beauty wasn’t important when I was younger. Much better on the psyche. When I moved to Portland, Oregon eight years ago, I promptly lost 50 pounds by working at a weight loss clinic and, in general, changing my lifestyle. My whole thought process about my body was greatly altered over the course of several years (my body is my temple, my body is my temple…); of course it is still shifting day to day.
Of course dating was a whole new ballgame after I lost weight. Men definitely noticed my looks in a good way for the first time in my life, but the ratio of jerks to men who were genuinely interested in the whole package changed drastically. So the question is, was my mother right the first time? How do we break out of the web and form our own ideas without being completely overwhelmed by the ying/yang attitude of our society and our parents’ values breathing down our neck? What is the perfect balance of outer beauty and inner beauty?
Let’s face it: when it comes to heterosexual relationships, which are the type I’m most familiar with, the man responds to what he sees first—chest, butt, lips, etc. In general, we have to be physically attracted to someone to desire a romantic relationship. But sometimes, a romance blossoms out of a friendship where physical attraction wasn’t initially a factor. I feel like someone is asking me what the meaning of life is. Everyone has their own answer, and none of them are wrong. So in a sense, both of my mother’s ideas were right!
Just please don’t tell her. She will never let it go.
To be continued…