The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mode but the true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It is the caring that she lovingly gives the passion that she shows. The beauty of a woman grows with the passing years.
- Audrey Hepburn
I recently spent time with two people that superficially seem quite similar, but after some close observation are really quite different. Both are middle-aged white women. Both, I speculate, are considered very attractive by most people they encounter. They both are married with one young daughter. I will guess that both husbands earn approximately the same salary, roughly $120,000 - $150,000.
One woman is an American living in Texas. We will call her Amy. She is a sales manager earning about $70,000 per year.
The other woman is a Canadian, living overseas. We will call her Cathy. She is a stay-at-home mother and is financially dependent on her husband.
Initially, Amy seems tall, has a nice figure, looks to be in great shape, appears healthy, and comes across very successful and happy. However, upon closer examination, she isn't really that tall, but is nearly always wearing high-heeled platform shoes that add at least four inches to her height. These shoes cause Amy to walk in an unnatural fashion.
I soon learn from Amy that her nice figure is largely due to elective-aesthetic surgeries, including breast implants and a tummy tuck.
Amy explains that she does pay monthly for a gym membership, and says that she tries to work out at the gym with her husband. However, she says that her knees and shins hurt her when she uses the machines and that she really doesn't have the time, because of her job and family. Amy is unable to run more than a minute or two without stopping due to being completely out of breath. She cannot do a single push-up or a pull-up.
At lunch, Amy orders a salad and a diet coke, then shows me a photo of her daughter on her cell phone. After eating, she pulls a plastic bag out of her purse containing 12 pills, four of them horse-sized, which she ingests with gulps of her diet Coke. I look at her in shock. She says, "Don't worry. They aren't prescription. They are supplements." I reply, "I am not worried, because I am not eating those pills. Do you know who's life you are supplementing? Really?" She laughs nervously and changes the subject.
The waitress complements Amy on her eyelashes. Amy replies, "Thanks. They're fake."
It is at this point that I observe how much make up Amy is wearing, how dehydrated she appears, and I start thinking about writing this article. I then remember a joke I heard recently.
Q: Why do women wear make-up and perfume?
A: Because they are ugly and they smell badly.
Why is this joke funny?
Is this joke funny?
Is it because there is a little bit of truth in it? More on this later.
Is Amy successful? She uses her employer's credit card to buy our $100 lunch. She makes enough money to afford a fake parent to raise her real daughter for more than 40 hours each week. She has a purse, watch, and sunglasses, each with a Cartier logo. She has succeeded in keeping my company's business for another year, and probably earned a bonus for doing so.
Is Amy happy? The frequent sighs, the shaking of her head each time her cell phone vibrates, the worry lines in her forehead, and the look in her eyes all indicate to me that she is not happy, despite her forced but perfect smile with whitened teeth and two tones of lipstick.
In contrast, Cathy seems to always be smiling, and not just with her mouth, but with her eyes...in fact, with her entire face...even with her whole person. If such a thing is possible.
Cathy also seems tall, has a nice figure, looks to be in great shape, appears healthy, and comes across very successful and happy. Upon closer examination, she isn't really that tall, maybe 5-4, and in fact is nearly always wearing flat sandals exposing her tanned feet and unpainted toenails. Cathy looks tall because she walks, rather, she struts upright with the perfect posture of a dancer or professional athlete, although she is neither.
Indeed, Cathy might be mistaken for a professional athlete, or at least a former one. Her nice figure is largely due to the almost daily exercise she gets doing her favorite watersport, and the occasional morning run with her friends.
Cathy explained to me that she has worked it out so that nearly every day her daughter plays with either her husband, or a neighbor family, while she does her favorite watersport for several hours, or goes for a run. I can attest that Cathy is very good at her favorite sport. In fact, she is arguably better than her husband, who is one of the best I have ever seen. Cathy can do every maneuver on the water that her husband can do, if not more, but she does them with a certain grace and beauty that seems to be reserved for women.
At their home, while her daughter plays with the cat, Cathy makes us a massive lunch consisting of leftover grilled chicken, garbanzo beans, fresh garden vegetables, whole-wheat bread, and a local beer. We laugh about the current gluten-free fad, and wonder what corporate America's next junk-science scheme will be.
Cathy is wearing a pair of cut-off shorts, a halter top, no make-up, no jewelry other than her wedding ring, and her hair is in a ponytail. Mrs_horseman mentions how beautiful Cathy looks. I agree. Cathy returns the compliment.
Cathy does not wear make-up and perfume.
Cathy is not ugly and does not smell badly.
The joke does not work for Cathy.
Is Cathy successful? She has money to buy the groceries to make our $20 lunch. She can afford to stay at home to raise their daughter. She has the life sold by every product in every women's health magazine. She has succeeded in earning the admiration and compliments of those that know her, including her husband and child.
Is Cathy happy? The frequent laughs, the many hours she spends each day with her daughter and without her cell phone, the lack of any worry lines in her forehead, and the look in her eyes all indicate to me that she is very happy, enforced by her perfect, whole-person smile, with no lipstick.
Now, please consider the recent news that, in a surprising reversal, the life expectancy for white women is going down.
Life expectancy at birth for white, non-Hispanic females in the United States declined slightly from 2013 to 2014, a change that could be a statistical blip but still represents a rare drop for a major demographic group, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
When I think about Amy and Cathy, I cannot help but feel that this is the beginning of a trend caused, at least in part, by the fact that women now have a much higher labor force participation rate than men, meaning more stress, and a lower quality of life, especially in a recession.
I hope this article causes readers to stop for a moment and consider the consequences of what we wish for, what we teach our daughters, and the lifestyle that we are being sold.
Peace and love,