It seems unfair to make people compete with society’s standards of beauty. But men and women alike know what it’s like to face this pressure.
Most people will recognize the above picture from social media and news sites across the world over the last week and a bit. He is Jeremy Meeks, arrested for possession of weapons and a gang-related charge in the unassuming town of Stockton, California. Multiple convictions, not the first time he’s done something related…
…Oh yeah, and he’s super hot.
The police department that reported his arrest found themselves bombarded by the comments of thousands of female readers when they posted a notice of his arrest on their Facebook page. Sure, there were a few “shouldn’t have done it” comments, but the vast majority were comments like “I’d like to get locked up with him” and “he can rob my bank”. Classics.
Since that time, everyone has been cashing in on the story and been met with similar comments from female readers. I know that there have been pictures posted since of him with his golden-toothed smile and some of his less flattering shots, but this has not stopped the overwhelming attention or comment this man has been getting for his appearance in this particular shot, even sparking #FCF, Felony Crush Friday. And it’s not just the women sounding off – because he has so much female attention, us men have jumped on the bandwagon too to either pay him out, fault his actions, or in some cases join in on admiring his appearance.
But a lot of men have actually been annoyed at the attention he’s been getting. Like boys in primary school, we get annoyed at anyone who takes the attention of the girls away. We’re so quick to find faults with him because we know that this shot was just a lucky shot, and that he doesn’t really look like this, and… WHY ARE ALL THE GIRLS LOOKING AT HIM?!
And a lot of us may feel like it’s not fair that he is what women find desirable. And women just don’t get the pressure that is being put on you by the fact that they are talking about how attractive he is. And all that desire. And all that lust.
…But you know, women know that pressure all too well
In 1953, a young man by the name of Hugh Hefner launched a magazine known as Playboy. In taking the mantra of “sex sells” literally, he utilized his talents from working at Esquire to present the naked female form to the masses. Over 60 years later, the Playboy empire is still going strong.
Men fell in love with Hugh’s magazine chain. They were able to gawk at beautiful women any time they would like, with new centrefolds featured every issue. Lots of others jumped on the bandwagon as they realized what a huge market there was for sleazy glares and idolizing the female form.
As the success of these magazines began to rise, their influence on television and other mediums was felt quite dramatically. Because men started buying these magazines in droves, it sent a message to the female species that this is actually what men wanted.
And “this” has changed over time. This was mature, now this is young. Blonde. Blue eyes. Round. Curvaceous. Those eyes. That hair. That look.
And women every day have to compete with hundreds and thousands of images of models and celebrities and Photoshopped fantasy. No wonder so many of our girls want to change their hair colour, their breast size, the amount of hair on their body, their fitness, and pretty much everything else about themselves.
Ask any woman who’s ever caught their man either with another woman, looking at another woman, or watching something he shouldn’t be watching. Many women would rather accept death than deal with the rejection of having his attention go elsewhere. Betrayal of the body or the heart is the greatest fear women have in relationship with men.
…And now we’re doing the same thing to men
For a long time, we just labelled that as men being men. Boys will be boys. Let them have their fun. All those lines.
But in the last 10-15 years in particular, we have seen a massive increase in the acceptance of lusting after men. Sure, in the 1960s and 1970s Sean Connerry was desirable. Sure, in the 90s, housewives had their fantasies fulfilled in Fabio.
But in 2014 and onwards, it would be fair to say that there is almost equal pressure on men with regards to their externals.
Cosmetic surgery was once something reserved for people who have had accidents and needed parts of their body reconstructed. It was then opened up to women wanting their chest augmented or the shape of their nose changed. Nowadays it’s not uncommon to hear of a male celebrity who has had just as much botox as Meg Ryan. Pornography is a thriving industry in the female market also. Magazines and calendars portray various shapes of men to appeal to a female audience.
Consequentially, there’s even more of the same pressures we once placed on women, on men. What they’re wearing, if they manscape, the size of their biceps, the size of their… feet. Stubble/no stubble, colour of his eyes, can he pull off a Clooney. All the rest of it.
If you ask a woman what she thinks of men giving their attention to unrealistic forms and desiring friends and images in sexual ways, you better be ready for a shotgun. It’s still viewed as derogatory and sexist.
And while men don’t always talk about it, they feel the same way when a woman does the same thing in lusting over other men. I guess there is more of an accepted double standard here. I always laugh when I go to the movies with female friends who are vocal about their views of the male leads, but they get super disgusted if they hear a man in the theatre do the same with the female lead. Yes, I have seen the theory tested.
But as people who want to be truly progressive, rather than reinforce these standards of beauty and continuing in wanderlust, there are some things we can do to truly help our society out.
This is particularly relevant for people who are in relationships, whether married or dating. You have another life attached to yours and you need to value this special person with your sexuality.
And as a single person, why not bring back some old school respect for the opposite sex so that when you do meet or date someone that they don’t have a lot of images to compete with?
Watch out what you post online
The Internet is a powerful platform. You can instantly speak to hundreds, thousands, even millions of people in the blink of an eye. I can post photos from a party or a quick thought from the convenience of my smartphone, and have friends all the world over instantly know what I am doing, where I am or who I was with.
And people are paying a lot of attention.
I wonder what happened, for instance, to all the friends and relatives of the people who posted on good ol’ Jeremy’s photo the other week? As a public image, everyone across the world is instantly able to know that he’s got their juices flowing. They got to talk with all the girls around the world about their mutual appreciation for his male form.
For a wife, their husband would have seen it.
For a mother, their kids would have seen it.
For a single woman, the single guys they might be secretly pining for or considering would see it.
Sexual desire is such a powerful thing to talk about. Yes, it is realistic that men and women both want sex. But you need to remember that comments around it, pictures, even the humble “Like” on Facebook, instantly presents people with an image of what you’re looking for in a man or a woman. What you find desirable. Are you projecting the image you want to project of yourself in that realm?
Watch out what you say
In the same way that we need to watch out what we put online, we should watch out what we say out loud. Spelling out physical characteristics that you prefer in a man or a woman can be a bit of fun, but it can also put down people that aren’t what you’re looking for.
Heck, most of those physical characteristics that we find attractive are exactly that – preferences. Not set in stone, can fluctuate, not the absolute requirement for you to desire or love somebody.
So don’t talk like they are.
And the reverse of this can be quite powerful – for instance, if you tell a female friend she looks good, a simple comment to your wife assuring her she looks better when you’re by yourselves again can go a long way to reinforcing the security in your relationship.
Careful what images you download into your mind
Masturbation and lust reinforce unrealistic standards of beauty in your life.
And who could ever compete with a fantasy?
The guy in the video can go at it for 30 minutes, but your husband may only be able to go for a few. The woman in the TV show has curves and hard bits in all the right places, but the woman you end up with is going to have a lot of extra surprises around the place. The picture of that person may look nice, but it conditions you to ignore things like character or lifestyle. A lot of people end up marrying very pretty people and find themselves miserable because the image was all they were looking or checking for.
I’m sorry to burst your unrealistic bubble, but before 50 years ago, people didn’t actually participate in watching what happened in the bedroom. It wasn’t explicitly detailed as it is now.
Nor was it airbrushed or directed, with perfect lighting and conditioning.
And you also need to be careful for your own sake. Cause you don’t look like the images or the standards of beauty either. Or maybe you do. But that can be a lot of pressure and a lot of unhappiness, constantly competing with an ever-changing image of what desirable looks like.
Being yourself is much more beautiful than that.
Adultery starts in the heart
Jesus said that whoever looked at a woman with lust has already committed adultery in his heart. In other words, the adultery problem starts inside, not outside.
As a society, we’ve raised a generation of cheaters and non-committal mumma’s boys and easy women because we don’t deal with the inside. We don’t deal with the insecurities or the loneliness or the hurt that leads people to desire things that aren’t theirs. We aren’t trained in high school to love only one woman, only one man. We don’t invite the advice or the counsel that helps sustain lifelong commitment.
But that can be different in your life. You can deal with the inside of your own heart and present it as a consecrated and committed gift to the one you love (or will eventually love). Of course you won’t be perfect, maybe you’ve made some dark or hurtful mistakes that you hate yourself for, but we all are imperfect. Love is two imperfect people coming together. And anyone who truly loves you will not find major issue with your past (although there may be some things to work through together).
NB. You may find The Source and Impact of Sexual Fantasy a useful read for dealing with the inside stuff
So just some more thoughts on the standards of beauty that exist. I feel sorry for poor Jeremy. Feel free to share your thoughts in the boxes below, and share this around with your friends. Much love!