Looks don’t matter, except for girls

17 Dec

Last night, I was watching Hitch (that early-2000s Will Smith classic) with my mom and my brother. The B plot centers around this couple:

He seduces her by taking control of a situation, standing up for her rights in a boardroom. He then charms her with his awkward ways, dancing badly and pulling out an inhaler before their first kiss. In short, she falls in love with him for who he is and what he does.

When the movie ended, we had a little conversation with my brother about what he thought the “rules” dating are (we try to have discussions with him about how to follow social norms whenever possible). He said, “You have to be nice, and looks don’t matter, except for girls.”

It’s incredibly common, in movies and TV shows, to see the bumbling, overweight, occasionally unemployed, guy land the hot woman of his dreams. Rarely do her other achievements matter, but when they do, they are secondary. Sure, she might be dorky – or, my favorite, “clumsy” (because she has to be flawed, but no one wants to watch a woman with real flaws) – but she’s still gorgeous.

You never see a woman on screen who isn’t incredibly beautiful, unless mayyyybe she’s over the age of 80 or under 10. The rare exceptions to this rule are played for comedy, and if they have a partner, he is always at least equally unattractive. The very idea that a good-looking guy might fall for a woman based on her charm/intellect/humor/anything-but-body isn’t even a possibility in the world of media.

This is insulting to men, because it implies that they’re all idiots who start drooling at any beautiful woman regardless of anything below the surface, have no discerning taste beyond looking for the next hottest “thing”, and can’t possibly be expected to remain faithful when faced with a hot young secretary.

And of course, it’s damaging to women. How could it not be? Girls are told our whole lives that we can’t expect someone to like us unless we’re as attractive as we possibly can be. And then we’re called shallow for worrying about clothes, hair, makeup, counting calories. No matter how hard most women try, we’re not going to hold a candle to the women we see on screen – after all, it’s their JOB to look good. If every man is just looking to date/marry the most gorgeous woman he can, how could many women not end up feeling inferior? After all, they can’t expect a man to fall in love with them just by standing up for themselves and carrying an inhaler.

Looks matter. They’re how we determine whether or not we’re attracted to someone in the first place, and are an important part of a romantic relationship. Your perception of someone’s attractiveness, however, can change as you get to know them better. We’ve accepted this is true for men. Let’s allow it to be true for women too.

3 Responses to “Looks don’t matter, except for girls”

  1. aryaakshay December 23, 2014 at 9:28 am #

    Awesome write! Love it 🙂

  2. autumnkovachak December 17, 2014 at 11:29 am #

    Good point. That’s so true how we look at women who are on screen and think, oh that’s their job, not mine so the pressure’s off. Yet, those women are building unrealistic scenarios for the viewing audience of men and women that know it is not real life yet still expect it or strive for it anyways. Maybe have the woman carry the inhaler next time and still make her desirable to a less overweight, attractive male. We can only hope that the disparity won’t be so great and talking about it certainly can’t hurt.

    • laurenkcampbell December 17, 2014 at 12:20 pm #

      Yeah absolutely. I mean the average guy on tv looks nothing like the average guy in the real world either. I just think a little more attention is given to the men’s personalities, interests, skills, abilities, and they’re allowed to have real flaws in a way women aren’t.

      It’s getting better though! Hitch is 10 years old and there were definitely things in it that I was like – no way they would put that in a movie now, at least without disparaging it.

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