"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Sunday, August 6, 2023

Waiting For Prince Charming - Was It My Hair?

Women can't be blamed  for either believing in Prince Charming or worrying about their hair.  Looking good trumps all else; and despite the meme that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, it is not. 

The ideal of female beauty has not changed in millennia, and while shaded in a multicultural palette, discounted for race and ethnicity, and looked at in profile and perspective, it remains the same.  From the Greek statues of Aphrodite and the portraits of Fayum to the beauties of Turkish film, a classically beautiful woman will always be sought after, pursued, loved, and wed. 

The ideal of feminine beauty is seen everywhere - the statues, masks, frescoes of Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, and Persians all portray the same symmetry. Whether such ideal features and their harmonious composition signify wealth, health, or well being; or whether there is some innate human appreciation for and valuation of harmony, the historical record is clear. While some women, thanks to an unusually outstanding feature or a sense of presentation and theatre might be considered attractive, they are outliers.

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Petrarch in the 14th century invented the idea of romantic love.  His poems to Laura were the first to limn the magical feeling of longing; and Shakespeare's sonnets were even more lyrical paeans to sexual desire. Knights and their fair maidens were the standard, coy mistresses enticed men, and come-hither looks, petticoats and lace became tools of the sexual trade. 

Natural selection, survival of the fittest, to the victors go the spoils are the reasons for demystifying romantic love, for putting Petrarch to rest; but of course such intent falls short. Decades of feminism have not altered sexual rhythm. Women still care very much what they look like, read romantic novels, consult magazines on how to get a man, and wait for Prince Charming.  They, without the swords and lances of sexual conquest, are consigned to expectation.

Savvy men know this well and understand that the algorithm that has described sexual relationships since Adam and Eve is still valid. No does not necessarily mean no, please stop is a variable term, and consummation at its best is a mutual Lawrentian affair.  The most successful men know how to weave consideration, attentiveness, affection, and patience, and charm into sexual pursuit.

The lover of Frank Wheeler, the protagonist in Richard Yates' novel, Revolutionary Road and the movie based on it, has frizzy, unmanageable hair - a wild tangle of untamed knots  She has done her best to hem it in, frame it as best she can to look like the silken, blonde tresses of her girlfriends.

After sex with Frank, she can only think of her hair, a rat's nest of tangles. She rushes to the bathroom, coats it with gel and returns.  He has seen her at her aboriginal worst and will never come back. 

Despite claims of feminine integrality, the covers of both GQ and Cosmopolitan feature images of sexy, barely-dressed women.  The twain - male insatiable desire and female allure - have met and put the lie of sexual identity to rest. 

How can a girl with frizzy, untamable hair possible compete with Aphrodite, Athena, Mona Lisa, or Scarlett Johansson? I won't ever be noticed, these girls lament, and frequent the carrels of the New York Public Library hoping to meet someone, anyone.

"If you want to get laid", the old male adage goes, "pick the last one on the dance floor”.  If only feminist counsel worked, say 30-something women.  If only men could be dislodged from their insensitive patterns and look at women as integers and not sexual fractions; but of course they cannot be.  They are as hardwired as women. 

Try as the most progressive men might, they simply cannot look at a woman without thoughts of Marilyn Monroe, Scarlett Johansson, or Jennifer Lawrence. Even the most physically disinherited boys still retain hopes of sexual glory.  They will settle for second best, adjust and accommodate, but each time in bed will wish it were otherwise. 

Of course most mating goes on between the extremes.  Few woman have Marilyn's sexual allure or Hedy Lamarr's looks, and while men may have Hollywood images in mind, they take less. It is not surprising that most American women have run-of-the-mill looks, but do their best to get the pick of run-of-the-mill men. 

Since beauty is indeed destiny, it is no surprise that most women aspire to live on Fifth Avenue overlooking the Park, wintering in St. Bart's, and skiing in Gstaad.  

They never look at a picture of Marilyn Monroe without a momentary, wistful regret. 

Meanwhile men put images of Marilyn aside and focus on sex. 

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