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Penny Adrian
Penny Adrian
7 months ago

Being a beautiful young woman is like starting out as president of the company and ending up as the janitor. It’s inevitable.
There is no way to maintain youthful beauty. Those who try ultimately end up looking like mummified teenagers. Madonna is a tragically famous example of this fact.
But it’s a feature of the adolescent mindset (and we live in a grossly adolescent culture) to equate being beautiful with being loved.
But no woman has ever been loved for her beauty.
Women are desired for their beauty, envied for their beauty, and wanted for their beauty.
But only inanimate objects are “loved” for their beauty.
Close your eyes and think about the people you love the most: Are they the most beautiful people in the world? Are they the most physically beautiful people you know? Are the most physically beautiful people you know the ones you love the most?
Of course, you need to be reasonably eff-able if you want to do well in the dating market.
But at some point, most of us hope to graduate from the dating market and into a loving relationship. If you can’t relax your standards at that point, your relationship might not be so loving.
The pursuit of physical beauty is a normal healthy part of being young. But we are meant to grow out of this phase and into focusing on our health, which will result in us being reasonably attractive.
If you are a middle aged woman obsessing about your looks, you are developmentally stunted. Let it go. Focus on love and loving relationships, and you’ll find yourself with a lot more votes in favor of your beauty than if you waste your money on botox and butt lifts.

Helen Nevitt
Helen Nevitt
7 months ago
Reply to  Penny Adrian

I meant to upvote you but seem to have got confused. Not sure if my vote is there but that is absolutely true. The Queen was attractive in her youth, sure, but it was an old, tiny lady she was almost universally admired. And she wasn’t vain either.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
7 months ago
Reply to  Penny Adrian

I entirely agree that being born beautiful can be a curse since looks inevitably fade as as they do so your power diminishes
However, for a lot of young women I think the objective is to be desired rather than loved

Dark Horse
Dark Horse
5 months ago

Well a lot of young women fear that unless they are desired they will never be loved and the beauty industry exploits this fear. Also a lot of young women consider themselves unattractive simply because they do not look like actresses and fashion models and this leads to a lot of unnecessary misery but feeds the cosmetics industry.

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
7 months ago
Reply to  Penny Adrian

My wife as a young woman was unusually beautiful and, I’m my eyes, remains so as a 55 year old. It’s not a trivial matter but it also happens that the honest, open, has great integrity and is fun.
But I cannot pretend that her beauty has not mattered to me.

Dark Horse
Dark Horse
5 months ago

I’m 68 and have never been beautiful but my partner still loves and desires me and I am old enough and wise enough to no longer care what other people think. One of the joys of getting old!

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
7 months ago
Reply to  Penny Adrian

Great post, and very much the kind of contribution i was hoping for when i posted earlier.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
7 months ago
Reply to  Penny Adrian

Brilliant, I wish could have encapsulated that so well. Thank you.

Richard Pearse
Richard Pearse
7 months ago
Reply to  Penny Adrian

“I, for whom all beauty burns
Like I sense in a million urns?
O beauty, are you not enough?
Why am I crying after love?”

(Sara Teasdale – circa: sometime before she committed suicide)

William Shaw
William Shaw
7 months ago
Reply to  Penny Adrian

You are correct in that in terms of SMV, females are born rich and grow poor. For males, where SMV depends on resources and authority, it’s the opposite; they are born poor and grow rich.
Before the age of 30, women have all the power in relationships. Illogically, feminism has convinced women to delay pair bonding/marriage until they are in their 30’s. Illogical because when women are in their 30’s their biological clock is running down and their SMV is heading to zero. Men have way more time than women so by delaying serious relationships until their 30’s women are putting themselves at a disadvantage and ensuring that men get a much better deal.

Last edited 7 months ago by William Shaw
Dominic Lyne
Dominic Lyne
6 months ago
Reply to  Penny Adrian

I try saying this to my daughter. That being beautiful is fine. But you have to have something in your heart and your mind that drives you and defines your principles and behaviours. Otherwise, you’re just gonna attract the sort of men that you don’t really want who obsesse with beauty only, not deep love and meaning. Most men love beautiful women. But when that is all they have, it is not good. The same is true of men who only invest in looks, they are shallow and empty.

The problem is, we dress up our daughters in pretty dresses from when they are born, and then by the time they’re 7 or eight, they want to be princesses or Barbie dolls. Then when they get to 12,13, 14 they are wracked with body image issues and turn to heavier makeup and worse just to look pretty. Very sad.

Dark Horse
Dark Horse
5 months ago
Reply to  Dominic Lyne

And the irony is that many beautiful women become very disillusioned with the whole circus and long to be loved for themselves and not for their looks – Marilyn Monroe being a prime example.
After all if a man only chooses you because of your beauty he is basically using you to feed his own vanity – he does not really care for you at all – you are merely a status symbol and source of ego gratification.

Dark Horse
Dark Horse
5 months ago
Reply to  Penny Adrian

This is ultimately true. I know two women who are both considerably overweight but with wonderful personalities and – yes – most men do not consider them physically attractive – but a considerable minority – on getting to know them – became attracted – they never lacked lovers or proposals of marriage – both are now very happily married grandmothers. My only concern are the health implications for them of being so overweight. I think the NHS should provide gastric band surgery for far more people, not just wait until someone is morbidly obese when a great deal of damage has already been done.
But these two women are proof that ultimately personality matters more than looks in long term partnerships.

Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
7 months ago

I don’t think it is vanity. Beauty confers power. Very attractive women have a literally mesmerizing power over men. They have the option of marrying a powerful man with resources – which sounds nice if you aren’t interested in the grind of daily work. People are more accommodating to you, men fall over themselves trying to please and engage with you. Why wouldn’t you want to enhance and prolong that power?. I am sure it has its downsides – the men must be a constant nuisance. They also can’t get past your looks in professional environments, etc. But I don’t think anyone would choose homely over beautiful if given the choice.

Aphrodite Rises
Aphrodite Rises
7 months ago
Reply to  Peter Johnson

Precisely the comment I was going to make – thank you. Though I would add it is part of the triad – beauty, power and money. The hero in traditional romantic fiction tended to have all three.

Last edited 7 months ago by Aphrodite Rises
Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
7 months ago

I met a woman on vacation once who fascinated me. She lived in a gated community, had two girls in private school, spent her days at the country club where she focused on her tennis, etc. All she had to do was marry the right kind of man. She had also divorced him so she didn’t have to put up with his crap once he got boring. I just couldn’t get over how easy her life was.

Dark Horse
Dark Horse
5 months ago

Mr Darcy being a perfect example.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
7 months ago
Reply to  Peter Johnson

Never trust the view of a plain woman on beautiful women

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
7 months ago

Hear hear.

Graham Cunningham
Graham Cunningham
7 months ago
Reply to  Peter Johnson

“The huge intra-sexual differences between the experiences of pretty women and ‘plain’ ones; and between confident ‘alpha’ males and ‘betas’ – this never gets considered.”
ï»żhttps://grahamcunningham.substack.com/p/the-less-desired

Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
7 months ago

It is a bit like white privilege – not exactly spread evenly among all white people.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
7 months ago
Reply to  Peter Johnson

Personally, I would. I find “over-beautification” a real turn-off because it suggests to me such a woman must be vain, silly, wasteful, selfish and have little of interest to talk about.. no good to rough it outdoors, afraid of soiling her precious outfit.. NO.. I’d hate all that; I’d run a mile from her..

Dark Horse
Dark Horse
5 months ago
Reply to  Peter Johnson

Sadly true. Beauty is power without responsibility and confers incredible advantages. Many will even overlook an unpleasant personality if the wrapping paper is gorgeous. The downside is that you can end up very shallow and self-centred and fail to develop as a human being. Impressive on the outside but empty on the inside.
However nobody would refuse the gift of beauty if offered it for the same reason nobody would refuse a beautiful singing voice or incredible athletic prowess or any exceptional brilliance. We all long to be special and admired.

RM Parker
RM Parker
7 months ago

Or as Leonard Cohen had it in “Closing Time”:
“ And I lift my glass to the Awful Truth
Which you can’t reveal to the Ears of Youth
Except to say it isn’t worth a dime
”

I hear so much about the male gaze, and not being female, I can’t really comment on that – but being a keen observer of human behaviour, I’ve long noticed that women seem mostly to primp and preen for other women, to avoid being socially shredded (as in the game described in the essay).

As an experiment, ask the average man to recall what his significant other was wearing on the last occasion they were out in company. And it’s a tired stock joke that men don’t notice a new hairdo.

Yet still we’re to blame for obsessive fretting over appearance. It’s just too funny.

AC Harper
AC Harper
7 months ago
Reply to  RM Parker

I suspect that women compete with other women for their social status, and men compete with other men for their social status, and once that is settled couples can consider becoming settled in the knowledge that each of their social statuses are not too far apart for compatibility.
And yes, beauty is one early element of the competition between women, but listen to them later comparing the achievements of their children or grandchildren.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
7 months ago
Reply to  RM Parker

Yes, absolutely agree. There is also an anti-beauty that has nothing to do with the dreaded “male gaze”; the fashion women and girls of a particular socio-political bent adopt to signal their “virtue” bona fides – Crayola crayon hair, monstrous facial piercings, whole-limb tattoos, clown makeup and prop glasses – they’re participating in the Honesty game of “am I acceptable”? for their peer group. Men, long maligned and almost completely marginalized, aren’t given a thought.

Dark Horse
Dark Horse
5 months ago
Reply to  RM Parker

Spot on! Women generally prefer beautiful women. Even little girls prefer playing with the pretty ones. It is very cruel but also biology. And women can be absolutely savage to their less appealing sisters.
On the plus side those who do not discriminate on the basis of looks are – in my experience – the nicest people to know and make the very best of friends.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
7 months ago

I found this interesting, since there was no mention of why beauty evolved: to confer an advantage in terms of reproductive health and fitness. The irony here is that once it’s “mission accomplished” the process of nurturing and raising children makes it potentially more difficult for all but the most financially well-established women to continue their beauty regimes as their body changes with time and nature. (I’d like to hear more from the female perspective about that, especially in light of falling birth rates.)

So why omit this very basic point? I respect the author; she has a great track record of writing thoughtful articles and this one is no exception – but for the point i’ve made. Could it be that it’s just too obvious? Or perhaps, that it’s no longer seen as relevant to the discussion, as if female beauty exists in some kind of void, detached from the world in which it’s perceived?

That indeed seems to be what she argues is happening with the “it’s just for me” women, in which case re-orienting the debate back to the real world would only have been done more succinctly by pointing out the evolutionary purpose of beauty.

Muad Dib
Muad Dib
7 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Fair point, beauty, at least beauty of a person is at it’s core is a measure of reproductive fitness.
I do think there is also another important aspect missing if we go back to biology. In most of the species the males are the ones more obsessed with appearance and females are not troubled too much. We have flipped it other way around, society imposes the norms to protect stability. Among animals usually females get to choose, as males are generally interested in all females, as long as they can gain their approval or fight off competition. Of course, the flip side is that reproductive roles are very different in duration and effort. So males are trying to be attractive to as many females as possible, and females are more careful about their choice.
Us humans have flipped this somehow, women try to be attractive, and man are expected to then stick around.
I think this conflict between biological inclinations on one side and social norms on the other is a cause for many of our personal and social troubles.

Elizabeth Adams
Elizabeth Adams
7 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Why would a financially well established older woman continue beauty regimes after body changes that come with time and nature?

Because we aren’t ready to tap out on having a great sex life!

I have a sexually willing & able husband who loves me. Putting in the effort to look as good as I can naked (and clothed) sexually amuses him.

It’s fun for him – and he makes it fun for me to put in the effort.

It’s that simple – men like it.

When we put in the effort (even without perfect results) it signals that a woman cares about sex and being sexual. My observation is that It’s really the effort that matters most.

Men respond positively to that signal. It’s just that simple. If a woman is still in the game sexually, the beauty stuff signals it to the men around her.

I’m not using my beauty regime to eliminate my “flaws” as I see them (there are plenty at my age). I’m just trying to get a positive response from him.

He’s already into me, so he enjoys any flourishes (like my long hair extensions) that I want to do.

That’s why this 54 year old post-menopausal woman does the expensive & time consuming beauty thing, anyway.

24 years of great marital sex and counting.

Dark Horse
Dark Horse
5 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Absolutely true that beauty is a sure-fire signal of good genetic health and mother nature is brutal – she really doesn’t care about feelings – so why isn’t everyone beautiful after all these millennia of survival of the prettiest?

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
7 months ago

Women have always been overly-concerned by what other women think, especially those they consider potential rivals.

Daniel P
Daniel P
7 months ago

“Surely a truly empowered woman would stride barefaced through the world, zits and wrinkles and moustache and all. (As is so often the case, this apotheosis of female empowerment and autonomy would be just an average weekday for a man.)”

-That is too simple by far. Men do have concern for their looks and they are aware of other men that are more attractive or richer or more powerful. But men measure themselves based on what women respond to as attractive. A man with perfect skin and makeup is not gonna fit that mold. In fact, what we see is that women seem to find men more attractive as they age, up to a point. That is wrinkles or lines. That is skin that is somewhat weathered. That is bit of gray. So, therefore, men do not put in a lot of time on those things. If women responded to men that had perfect skin, no gray hair, not hair at all on their bodies, then you can be damn sure we would do it. But women do NOT generally respond to that.

Besides, in the mating market place, men are measured on many things of which being particularly good looking is probably not in the top 3. Is it a nice to have and a differentiator? Sure. But is it the critical factor up front?

Men are hunters and women are fishermen. Hunting does not require that you attract what you are after, you go searching for it. Fishing requires that you put a lure in the water, wait, and hope that a fish finds it attractive.

That is, obviously, a simplification but I think accurate. Just take a night out in a nightclub. Women will dress and act in accordance with what she thinks the kind of man she wants to catch would be attracted to. If the wrong fish come by or try to take her bait, she pulls her line out of the water. If she catches the wrong fish, she tosses it back in and tries again. Men, will go to that same club, look for a woman that catches his eye, that looks like something worth putting in the time and effort, risk, to catch. Then he decides how to approach and catch.

Feminine beauty is a powerful thing. It is social capital and not just with men.

Mark Phillips
Mark Phillips
7 months ago
Reply to  Daniel P

‘A man chases a woman until she catches him’. That is what I was taught and seems to be what you are saying.

Daniel P
Daniel P
7 months ago
Reply to  Mark Phillips

Perfectly stated.

Max Price
Max Price
7 months ago

Of course it’s vanity, and I’m sick of pretending it’s not. The poor women being objectified and the pressure to live up to beauty standards. Give me a break! The root cause is vanity, it always has been and it’s a sin. Sin is meant to be alluring; “The Devil” is not stupid.

Will K
Will K
7 months ago

I understand that both pride and vanity are sins.

R Wright
R Wright
7 months ago

Very interesting article. I do believe that the one real downside to being a beautiful woman is going from the centre of attention in your youth to utterly invisible as one gets old. For mediocrities that transition will almost inevitably be less traumatic.

Daniel P
Daniel P
7 months ago
Reply to  R Wright

Yeah…I dunno about that being entirely true.

I can think of a few women that have actually gotten sexier as they got older. They were pretty in their youth but got sexier as they aged. Are there limits to that? Sure. But I know a few women in their 50’s that I think are actually hotter now than when they were 30. I think it stems from, yes, having kept themselves up physically, healthy, fit, etc. But I think a lot of it comes from attitude. Older women are more sophisticated in how they are sexy and generally, unless they are of the type that life has made them bitter or they made themselves bitter, they make better partners. Fewer hangups. Then too, there are those women that age and take on what is commonly called being handsome. Not sure that “handsome” is precisely the word we should use but there is a strength and dignity that come on with some.

But then, I am in my 50’s and I suppose I see in a 50 yr old woman a lot of things that a 30 yr old guy would not. There is a story there. There is a history of having lived a life. Then too, there is what is called the “F You 50’s”, a point in life where you really just stop giving a rats ass what anyone thinks and a knowledge that you can handle whatever life throws you. That too can be sexy.

What is not sexy is to completely let yourself go, not do what you can to stay healthy and mentally sharp, a negative attitude, bitterness, anger, or a lack of self respect.

A B
A B
7 months ago
Reply to  R Wright

No, obviously more traumatic. A kind of unearned excellence to invisible beige.

Stuart Bennett
Stuart Bennett
7 months ago

Speaking as an extraordinarily beautiful man I can confirm it is great. Joking aside there’s no harm in a person making the most of their luck. I’ve observed as I’ve grown older that people who define themselves as a beautiful person and use it as their main currency in life get hit very hard when it fades as it always does. The addition of “for his/her age” at the end cuts deep. Just make sure you’ve got more to offer the world than your appearance.

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
7 months ago

As a man I’m pleased to have grown up in the 60s and 70s when, generally speaking, women used cosmetic enhancements sparingly, to improve rather than replace their natural beauty. Today the fashion among self-identifying ‘beautiful’ women seems to be for an intense use of make-up and other additions which overwhelm the individuality of the person and turn them all into pouting, posing versions of the same vampish lascivious stereotype. Very unattractive, and essentially ugly.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
7 months ago

Serious question: has anyone ever added up the total cost of such feminine beautification? I’m referring to costs incurred in categories that don’t apply to (the vast number of) men.. The data must exist surely on clothing, footwear, make-up, so-called beauty treatments, face lifts etc etc. A simple gender comparison is all that is needed to determine the “extra”/ unnecessary expenditure. Since a few men will also undergo such frivolities the difference in expenditure will be an understatement but I suspect, it will still point to incredible amounts of waste, all highly damaging to the environment such as micro plastics from facial scrubs etc.
Oddly, in the animal kindom male vanity is the norm but then intelligence is beyond animals..

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
7 months ago

Our (men’s) concept of beauty is always changing.
From Rubenesque fatties to stick insect Twiggies, to peroxide blondes to Botox horrors that resemble Grouper fish!
Who is dictating this nonsense?

WHY IS THIS BEING CENSORED?

Last edited 7 months ago by Charles Stanhope
Cal RW
Cal RW
7 months ago

When I read articles on beauty and looks, I’m reminded of this poem: As a beauty I’m not a great star, there are others more handsome by far – but my face I don’t mind it – because I am behind it – It’s the people in front that I jar. (Anthony Euwer)

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
7 months ago

But I thought it was all the fault of the patriarchy!

Look, honestly, if a straight man meets a nice woman, we don’t really care if she has a few wrinkles or stretch marks. It’s hard work for most of us to find a lover.

Women do this to themselves and each other, this madness isn’t male cruelty.

Fair play, Kat doesn’t blame men for which I thank her but it happens lots

Hilary Easton
Hilary Easton
7 months ago

It’s weird the way some people are still blaming the patriarchy when it is pretty evident that it has already died the death. However, as you say, Kat is not doing that.

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
7 months ago

Men do not have to be beautiful, but there is still pressure, notably the pressure in jobs to look younger than you are, the pressure to stay trim, and the pressure to be taller – leg-lengthening surgery is quite the thing nowadays, and shoes with hidden internal heels always were.
 There is also, in feminism, a dreadfully-nunnish puritanism. All this anti-image crap reminds of an old street preacher of my youth who used to bellow at passers-by that “a child of the dust should not be proud”. He was pretty grim, and these feminists similarly are joyless bores. Young people, male or female, all like the “right” haircut / hair-style, they all like a new trendy item of clothing, and any young lad who’s spent too much time in the gym will enjoy showing off his ‘guns’, and flat-tummied young women will wear crop tops to show off too. Everyone likes looking their best for a Friday night, and people seriously need to lighten up about that.  

Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
7 months ago

I mislaid my wife recently. She had wandered off to look for our car (which was also lost, but that’s another story). I asked another woman, a helpful passer by, to keep a look out for my wife and attempted to describe her. ‘What’s she wearing?’ asked the passer by. ‘Err … you’re asking a man,’ I said, ‘and I don’t know.’

Ralph Hanke
Ralph Hanke
7 months ago

Beauty is, very much, in the eye of the beholder. As such, it is quite subjective and culturally specific.

Let me use the age component of culture. When I was younger, I thought there were many, many beautiful and desirable women out there. 50 years later, I find there are far less attractive women than I used to.

I think I am the one who changed, not the physical components of women.

Maybe because I am less horny than when I was 15?!

Philip Stott
Philip Stott
7 months ago

I quite enjoyed this as a book review.
The analysing the crap out of a fairly mundane activity through the lens of patriarchy gets a bit old for me, though.
I honestly wonder how Kat manages to get through the day sometimes.
As to whether whether beauty products are just a big anti-feminist, capitalist con, I’d ask “do women use them just because they enjoy it?”.
When I hear my wife talk to other women about whatever the latest beauty thing is, their eyes light up the same as men’s do when talking about gadgets and tools.

Penny Mcwilliams
Penny Mcwilliams
7 months ago

I find it demoralising, as a 65 year old woman, that in comparison to my teenage years, rather than freeing women from the pressure to be physically beautiful, western culture has instead dragged young men down to the same level. Rates of anorexia etc seem to be much higher in young men than they used to be, and obsessive working out in the gym in an attempt to achieve the ‘ideal ‘ male body must cost them quite a bit, before we even think abut male grooming products that simply did not exist in the 70s . Beard conditioning oil, anyone? Even Incels whine about how they are ‘not attractive’ enough to get the free sex that they think the better looking men are enjoying.
But it is hardly surprising that in a culture where young women are assessed for their desirability almost entirely on the basis of their physical appearance, they become very interested in enhancing it.
And the male sex pests for this world are not exactly known for harassing intelligent witty older women, are they? While the cliché of the older, single, very wealthy women targeted by the handsome gigolo shows that selling yourself on the basis of your beauty to those rich enough to afford it cuts both ways

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
7 months ago

The censorship on this innocuous essay is so appalling I am surprised that anybody bothers to comment.

Kelly Madden
Kelly Madden
7 months ago

Am I a good person?

Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
7 months ago
Reply to  Kelly Madden

Mind your own business.

Philip Stott
Philip Stott
7 months ago

I quite enjoyed this as a book review.
The analysing the crap out of a fairly mundane activity through the lens of patriarchy gets a bit wearying for me, though.
I honestly wonder how Kat manages to get through the day sometimes.
As to whether whether beauty products are just a big anti-feminist, capitalist con, I’d ask “do women use them just because they enjoy it?”.
When I hear my wife talk to other women about whatever the latest beauty thing is, their eyes light up the same as men’s do when talking about gadgets and tools.

Philip Stott
Philip Stott
7 months ago

I quite enjoyed this as a book review.
This analysing to death of a fairly mundane activity through the lens of patriarchy gets a bit old for me, though.
I honestly wonder how Kat manages to get through the day sometimes.
As to whether whether beauty products are just a big anti-feminist, capitalist con, I’d ask “do women use them just because they enjoy it?”.
When I hear my wife talk to other women about whatever the latest beauty thing is, their eyes light up the same as men’s do when talking about gadgets and tools.

Hilary Easton
Hilary Easton
7 months ago
Reply to  Philip Stott

I do agree with your last sentence. I think for many women make up and ‘skincare’ are hobbies, giving them something to do and something to talk about.
I don’t know how you make out that the review is ‘through the eyes of patriarchy’ though, considering this:

Despite the alleged influence of patriarchy, this industry is ultimately fuelled by individual women making individual choices.

and this:

Consider the statistic that conventionally attractive people earn up to 15% more than those less aesthetically blessed. In this context, what’s a few hundred or thousand bucks per year on treatments that help you stay prettier for longer, if not a savvy investment?

It is quite a complicated analysis, really, not just the old man-bashing, women as victims, narrative.