“How great is it to belong to the beautiful half of society?”
Well, now there’s a question! I didn’t even know how to answer, but I wanted to know how he divided society into these two kinds of people. There are beautiful truths you can learn in a vulnerable, intimate conversation with a man who is your friend. I have a sacred collection of these in my life—these men who are also conversationalists—and so I also have a lot of their truths that I carry like rubies in my pocket.
When a man is willing to speak his mind, when he’s not posturing for anybody, when there isn’t a battle to win or lose, when there isn’t the fate of a girl—or a date with a girl—on the line, there’s an unfiltered voice so many of them have. These conversations are rich and the moments are fleeting, so I’ve learned to be ready to listen.
“What do you mean?” I asked him, very honored that his estimations placed me in the beautiful half, whomever this half may be.
“You’re a woman. I’m talking about all of you girls—you’re all just so beautiful. All the lines and curves of a woman, the silhouette line from your chin to your shoulder—even the way you girls hold a coffee cup. It’s all so beautiful. It must be wonderful to look in the mirror and see yourselves.”
I laughed out loud. (Remember that safe conversational place I talked about? It’s not especially kind to laugh in that sacred space.) He waited. “I’m not trying to be funny,” he said.
“No, no, I’m sorry. I don’t mean to laugh. It’s just. . . well, we’re all pretty hard on ourselves. I think you’d be hard pressed to find a woman who straight up delights in staring at herself in the mirror.”
I laced my fingers and placed my hands on the tabletop, carefully not laughing this time. “Um, yes. Really.”
“How can you all not think you’re beautiful? I mean, the breasts alone are a profound invention. It must be great to have those beautiful somethings on you everywhere you go.”
Again with the suppression of laughter. “Honestly, they’re a much bigger deal to you guys than they are to us.”
“They’re definitely a pretty big deal to us. I guess maybe if I had some myself I wouldn’t care about them. Maybe.” He raised his coffee cup to take a sip, then shook his head with an offhanded gesture to show that he’d never understand us women at all. “No,” he said, “I think I’d still like them.”
Girls, it turns out, there are some men out there who really think we’re genuinely beautiful the way we are. And lest you think there’s only one of them, I had breakfast with another one this morning, so I know there are at least two in the world. Over scrambled eggs and pancakes, we talked about the projects we’re working on, the things we’re proud of and excited about, and the world of the adult dating scene. He said, “There’s a word I wish every woman could embrace.”
“Please tell me the word,” I said.
He set his fork on his napkin, and he looked down for a moment. When he looked up again, his eyes were brimming with tears. “Precious. The word is precious.” And then he couldn’t talk again for a few minutes because he was overcome with emotion. He held his napkin in his fist, and he gathered himself.
“You are mothers, daughter, sisters, wives—you’re each a creation in your femininity. You’re so precious.” He balled his napkin into a fist, and then he said, “and it kills me when men treat you like you’re not.”
The thing is, there are some days when it seems like maybe we’ve made some great strides against the commercialization, objectifying, and marketing of women. I’d personally like to raise my glass to Dove, as they seem to have been the first to turn the tide in favor of body image with their movement to teach us to love the skin we’re in.
And maybe my perspective is skewed because I’m careful about what enters my mind and my psyche. I steer clear of ads, commercials, news, and magazines that make me criticize my own lines and curves, which of course means I kind of live in a media-free cave. But it’s a happy little wholesome cave with good lighting that protects the way I see myself.
“Thank you for thinking we’re beautiful,” I said. “I wish more women knew you guys thought that way.”
“I wish you could see us the way we see you,” he said.
I wish we could too. It could be revolutionary.