Tara Carr’s SHOULD number five: dish out compliments, just like to female characters from 1950s sitcoms did. She notes that, while compliments should go both ways, “men should receive way more compliments than women because they are way more sensitive and insecure than they let on.”
Firstly, we all know that sitcom characters perfectly and always mirror humans in the real world, so this is totally legit right off the bat. Right??
I have nothing against compliments. And I agree with Carr that they should go both ways. But be cautious here. Don’t go throwing around compliments just because you think that is what you are “supposed” to do. If you think your fella (or lady) is looking particularly smashing this morning, obviously let him/her know. But forcing your language or behavior to fit a preconceived “ideal” is pretty much never a good idea.
Carr’s sixth SHOULD: Always keep yourself up. She laments that “nowadays, women are so comfortable and lax that they’ll just go out looking any kind of way and don’t really invest effort into maintaining their bodies in general.” She encourages women to “Work out. Eat healthy. Look presentable. Take care of yourself.” BECAUSE, “You are a reflection of your man. Make him look good!”
Hold up. Wait a minute.
This one goes against EVERYTHING we are trying to do here at OpBeaut. Again, let me clarify, it is not the “should” that is the problem, it is the WHY.
Excercise? YES! Eat healthy? YES! Take care of yourself? PLEEEEEASE!
But not, never, no way, no how should you EVER do any of those things in order to MAKE HIM LOOK GOOD.
So, why DO you do those things?? Well, your answer might be different than mine, and you may have to do some soul searching on this one. I made the decision to exercise more regularly because I want to be healthy enough to travel and be active when I FINALLY retire. And if my girls decide to have children, I want to be able to run and play with them like I am able to run and play with my girls now. I also love how my body continues to surprise me by what it can do when I get out of it’s way.
Carr’s seventh SHOULD is to dress up for dates no matter how long you have been together. “Keep doing what you did to get him,” BECAUSE, “he will definitely notice and appreciate the extra effort.”
To which I say:
“You don’t owe your prettiness to anyone. Not to your boyfriend/spouse/partner, not to your co-workers, especially not to random men on the street. You don’t owe it to your mother, you don’t owe it to your children, you don’t owe it to civilization in general. Prettiness is not a rent you pay for occupying the space marked ‘female’.”
(Quote taken from this lovely post by Erin McKean on A Dress A Day)
If you want to dress up, dress up. It can be super fun. If the idea of dressing up makes you cringe, don’t dress up. Again, never ever do or say anything because you think it is what is “expected” of you.
And do we need to even get into the “what you did to get him” bit? He’s not a fish. And you are not a pretty worm on a hook.
Carr’s last SHOULD is to anticipate his needs by doing things like, “have a cold beer waiting, a cigar, and dinner on the table.”
Annnnnd we are back to the servant stuff again. Come on, now.
Every once in awhile (like maybe a birthday or anniversary?), I think it can be fun to just spoil the heck out of someone. Massage? Sure! Beer? Let me pop that top for ya! Your favorite dinner? Already on the table!
But these are things that should be done in a loving and playful way because YOU WANT to. If you don’t want to, don’t. Your actions and behaviors are up to you. Not your partner. And certainly not a stranger’s ideas of who and what you should be.
Here’s the take away: women like my mom and those before her fought hard for women’s rights. They didn’t fight for us to go to school. They didn’t fight for us to go to work. They fought for us to be able to CHOOSE those things if we want them. They fought for that woman balancing full-time work and full-time motherhood to be able make her own path. They also fought for that full-time stay-at-home mom to be able to make HER own path. They did not fight so that a stranger could tell us what we should and not be doing as women. (I mean, she has the right to tell us and all, but we reserve the right to ignore it).