It’s complicated. Researchers devise lots of studies about attractiveness. Things like what foods are sexy and the number of dates you get based on where your eyes are in relation to your ears.
Don’t know anyone who’s gone under the knife to rearrange their ears. Except her. That we fund grants to gain this knowledge is obvious — we hear about the results on OWN, read them in Cosmo, know they’re true based on the number of nose jobs done each year, and by the stock market price of companies selling hair color. If attractiveness is linked to desirability which is all about sexuality, the reason for the study of what we find attractive is to find out what makes for being a hottie or a hunk. Oh, those naughty, naughty researchers (smirk smirk). WooHoo. Bring on the studies! It’s only postpartum and menopausal women who don’t care, anyway. The rest of us do and we get very upset (read depressed) when who we are doesn’t coincide with what those (smirk smirk) researchers say about what’s hot and what’s not.
Think of the Wonder Bra (guess it’s called that because guys wonder if women really have the frontage implied). You can bet your boobies that companies don’t invest that kind of money bringing a product to market unless there’s a market for their product. Hef pays for his in-mansion Playmates to have breast augmentation because there’s a big market for ogling and owning big breasts. We’re smothered in ’em. In some communities, breast augmentation surgery is given as a high school graduation gift (does that mean they don’t get a car?). We’re suckers for quantity and there’s a lot of quantity to a 36 double D (sounds like something you’d hear at the blackjack table). Sexually desirable traits are the ones to have. And if you don’t have those traits, you can always buy them, implanted or not.
Most of us make ourselves more attractive based on what people we find attractive find attractive. Or what we think they find attractive. But I don’t have to tell you that getting there can be hard, even impossible. I can’t wear those sexy spike heels without falling off them — and unless you’re weird, that’s not sexy.
Yesterday I saw two commercials as far apart as reality and fantasy can be. In one, for a teleflorist, a young man was being counseled by a pretty blonde on how to word his Valentine’s email. In a sultry yet soothing voice, she advised him to say what was in his heart; that turned out to be about his loved one’s “rack”. Then I saw a middle-aged man asking us to fund breast cancer research so no one else would have to go through what his wife did.
I’m not immune from judging my attractiveness against the mainstream. I own a Wonder Bra or two. Okay, three. I wear make-up, even though tremors make for an interesting result. There’s a small backlash against our over-reliance on projecting false images of ourselves, but I don’t think it has a thing to do with invisible disability awareness. If it’s still true (and it is) that decisions about who we hire are made based on physical attractiveness, what is the message to those with invisible disability? I’d wager a pretty hefty percentage of us (especially women) stay in the closet about something that has the potential, we suppose, of diminishing our success.
Covering up cosmetically is a human addiction that goes back a long way. Nobody wants to be “naked” when nothing is wrong; imagine how the invisibly-disabled feel when there is. And what about you invisibly disabled brethren. Are we so sex-starved, so captive to the biological imperative, so unevolved we have to make judgments based on who’s attractive and thus fertile? Jeez, get over yourselves and decide what really is imperative.
(This last sentence is in the category of it-sounds-good-but-yeah-sure.)
Kathe Skinner is a psychotherapist specializing in work with couples experiencing invisible disability. She is living, well, with multiple sclerosis.