I Don’t Care if You Think I’m Pretty
If a picture is worth a thousand words, here they are.
My woeful lack of luck in finding a romantic partner has been well documented. I haven’t had a boyfriend since I became single almost two and a half years ago. I haven't been on a date in four months.
My entire perspective on my singlehood was put into place with less than ten words said to me by a stranger.
I posted a picture on social media a few days ago. A follower made a comment that I think finally answers the question as to why I’m still single. The only thing the man said about the picture was, “You’re beautiful! Yet, you’re having so much trouble dating???” It was both a statement and a question.
Forget the fact that in the picture I’m standing next to Mark Kelly, NASA astronaut, Navy combat veteran, husband of former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, and future member of the United States Senate.
Forget that I was at an invitation-only event because I work tirelessly on his campaign. Forget that the picture encapsulated what I stand for, believe in and am proud of inside myself.
Forget that I’m passionate, intelligent, kind, loving, empathetic, funny, and giving and want so much for someone to see that. No, he tells me I’m beautiful.
It’s stung me down to my core and I’m frustrated. I have reasons.
I want to be able to take the compliment. I want to be appreciative that someone thinks I’m attractive. But, I can’t. It was negging. It was dismissive.
Being pretty is not a woman’s currency but more and more I feel like it’s our only bartering chip.
I blame the swipe economy where our love lives seem to be bought and sold based on the value of a picture someone looks at for two seconds. Everything is tied up to the purchasing power of those two seconds.
Every single woman has lived her whole life with her beauty at the forefront. At a young age, we’re taught that it’s what will make or break us, romantically. It’s what guts us during our inevitable awkward phase. Mine, for the record, lasted 15 years.
Look at what Disney did to us. Snow White? Sleeping Beauty? None of their Prince Charmings fell in love with them because of their beautiful souls. No, it was their face. Helen of Troy. She launched a thousand ships with one thing. Her face.
We’re told men are visual beings. They like pretty, sexy things. So we do whatever we can to be pretty and sexy. We wear makeup. We color our hair. We watch what we eat. We workout. We spend more money than is reasonable to keep our wrinkles at bay all so a man can comment on a picture of us with an astronaut and tell us we’re pretty.
Men, I’ll let you in on something: We want more. We’ll keep doing this work but we want you to do your work too.
Consider the bartering currency for men. Women are emotional beings. We do what we’ve been trained to do, flash our currency, in hopes of bartering for what we really want: emotional, human connection. In the world of dating, we rarely get it.
We don’t want compliments on our faces or our bodies. Sure, it’s nice that you appreciate the effort we put into how we look, but going to a salon and having a person in a black apron cover the signs of our aging is easy. That’s not work. That’s lazy.
The real work is in everything that we’ve done to invest in ourselves because we value our own emotional and intellectual growth. We read books. We appreciate art. We listen. We cultivate compassion. We bolster our confidence and strength. We forge our own independence.
Your real work, what you need to give us in return, is to genuinely recognize our interior efforts. This is what we want you to see. This is what we want you to compliment us for. When you do this, you appreciate what we’ve done in order to be someone of high value. To not do so is dehumanizing to our souls. Neglect to acknowledge this and we walk away. This is why you're single.
The reality is that you can’t keep a woman simply by appreciating her beauty. It bores us to death. I don’t want a man who wants to sit across a table from me and look at me. That’s not what I was put on this earth for.
So men, let me help you understand women just a bit more. It’s simple: look deeper.
I, like so many other women, am single by choice. We’re not sad about it. We don’t cry ourselves to sleep in our empty beds. We live full lives that we want you to complement.
Unless we can be appreciated for what’s inside of us, what we’re truly proud of, we won’t waste our time. We want the good stuff. This is why I’m single. I’ve not seen the good stuff. I’ll wait for it. I have no problem being alone until that happens. Thank you, random commenter I’ve never met, for reminding me that I’m worth my own waiting.