Yesterday, a Facebook colleague posted a link to a Huff Post article that left me floored. Entitled “My Naked Truth,” writer Robin Korth discusses a recent relationship in which the man she was seeing, just 4 years shy of her 59 years, told her that he could not deal with her ‘wrinkly body’ and requested that she ‘hide’ in order to continue a sexual relationship. When she informed him that she no longer want to see him, he was both stunned and confused.
I would like to say that I have no words but it’s simply untrue. I have many words, most of which are unprintable. However, the piece provided the courage for me to openly share my recent experience on a dating site. I’ve been mired in work for the past half decade and have been running from the disappointment and hurt from my last relationship; in other words, I’ve not been seeing anyone nor have I had any interest in putting myself back out in the game. But this Spring brought a shift in priorities and in my life and with an open heart and halfway open mind, I decided that the time was now to have fun with a new man.
I have male friends in my life who constantly tell me that I am pretty; some go as far to claim that I am ‘hot,’ or ‘sexy.’ Those compliments are truly lovely. And yet, my foray into the world of online dating only brought to fore everything that is wrong with the way that many men my age consider women and how they consider themselves in relation to the partners they go after. For the most part — like Dave in Robin Korth’s piece — the men that I encountered seem to have blinders on. Mind you, I know a lot of men who are as self-deprecating about their aging looks as women are, but for every single one of these guys, I also know at least two who are clueless. The latter go after women half their age or at the very least, 10 years younger. And while I can certainly understand the attraction of supple skin, perky breasts and flawless, cellulite-free derrieres, I can also see what apparently they don’t see in themselves: sagging guts and receding hairlines. In my recent ‘dating’ foray, I was contacted by countless men who ignored what I wrote that I was seeking, men a good 10 years or more older than me, inactive men, men who, based on their notes, were short a few neurons in the intellect department. I received emails saying little more than how much my hair and eyes were appreciated. For all intents and purposes, I was rewarded with superficial, icing but no cake, whipped cream and nothing more. Needless to say, I promptly took down the profile.
When does the double-standard start and end? We live in a country where there are weekly reports of high school or college athletes raping women, where insurance companies pay for men with erectile issues to get their hard(s)-on, where a women turns 50 and becomes invisible and where men of the very same age, men with big guts and lousy postures who get winded walking up a few stairs somehow become more attractive — at least to the few who, in the majority of cases, are only interested in their money and cache. Or, as Korth writes, men can’t deal with our bodies unless we are in the dark draped in protective gear that sucks in our flaws and also our souls in the process.
So, floored? Yes, and angry and absolutely puzzled how this happens and why many women continue to lead their lives counting wrinkles and flaws and opportunities that have dried up. And I am heartened by women like Korth who are willing to share their stories and still claim their bodies for what they are: wrinkled but beautiful, flawed but strong, every “imperfection a badge of living and giving of life.”
Here’s the rub, my rub: I liked the way I looked a lot better six years ago and was hardly as self critical as I am now. And, at the age of 53, I find lots of flaws; this despite working out daily and engaging in other physical activity. Time to end the double-standard. I think I’ll start right now. What about you?