Thursday, February 11, 2010

Women and their own beauty, and looking

This letter just came in, it's mainly a Domai issue, but has broader application, so I'll post it here also, I feel it's quite important.

Daniel wrote:

It's encouraging to know that there are some women out there who understand their gift of beauty. Her flip side of the Domai pledge is as priceless as her beauty, for what good is beauty hidden away?

Every woman I've been lucky enough to be naked with so far has had a hard time believing that I find her beautiful. My current lover tried to hide her tummy because she (barely) has some surgery scars. The one before that couldn't believe I could be attracted to her at all because she's curvy, not skinny. The one before that knows that she has an awesome body, but can't understand why men look at her. She would tell me, "That guy just looked me up and down! Why do men DO that?"

Each one would notice me looking at them and say, "What?" as if she thought that I'd noticed some flaw or blemish. I'd say, "I just like looking at you." Then I'd point out her best features while she'd give me skeptical looks.
With patience and time, a wonderful thing happened. Each woman finally accepted my insistence that she was beautiful. Each one eventually relaxed and even posed for me.

Some of my most cherished memories are of seeing these women blossom before my eyes. It's more than just being comfortable in their own skin, it's a kind of confidence that they are acceptable, valuable, desirable; that it's normal for a man to enjoy looking at them. The more they believed in their own beauty, the more beautiful they became, for my benefit and others, but mostly for their own.

It taught me the importance of acknowledging a woman's beauty for her sake.

Today, in a hardware store, I noticed a stunning brunette walking towards me. She noticed me and closed her coat, looked away, and kind of turned away as she walked past. I was shocked at the volume of her body language, "Don't look at me!" As I recovered from this non-verbal slam, another pretty brunette turned down the aisle. She saw me looking and smiled. She walked a little more upright, put some spring in her step, and caught my eye. I returned her smile and looked her up and down. Returning my gaze to her eyes, her unmistakable unspoken look said, "You're welcome."

Both these women wore wedding rings. I could only wonder what made the difference. I think at some point some man convinced the second one of the value of her beauty. The first obviously didn't have that experience, even from her husband. I felt a little sad for her.

Not only do men need to look, women need to believe they are lookable.



Back to Eolake:
I'm curious about the "That guy just looked me up and down! Why do men DO that?" part. This is not unusual. Doesn't she enjoy looking at a nice hunk herself? And if she does, does she hide it, and why?
I guess the belief is that somehow you're hurting a person by looking at them?


TC [Girl] said...

Daniel wrote...
"It taught me the importance of acknowledging a woman's beauty for her sake."

I thought this letter was so awesome! We need more "Daniels" in the world: willing to learn; to have patience; to acknowledge and validate women.

Your lover is lucky to have you! I hope you enjoy a long life, together!

Thanks, Daniel...and Eo! :-)

Monsieur Beep! said...

I like the beautiful portrait! It calls for a link from Twitter.

TC [Girl] said...

Eolake said...
"I'm curious about the "That guy just looked me up and down! Why do men DO that?" part. This is not unusual."

Men are "wired" to look. Looking discreetly, tastefully, and respectfully, is appreciated by most, I believe.

"Doesn't she enjoy looking at a nice hunk herself?"

Some women, out of respect and a courtesy to the 'Significant Other' that she is with, won't necessarily look.

"And if she does, does she hide it, and why?"

Not usually hidden but...see above. I think the more "operative" word might be "discreetly" if she decides to look.

"I guess the belief is that somehow you're hurting a person by looking at them?"

Not at all. There can be MANY reasons why a woman isn't comfortable being looked at:

sexually violated in childhood and/or adulthood;

the way that the "looking" is done. To be viewed, briefly, is nice; but...if it is a LONG "gander," it becomes...uncomfortable. It becomes an issue of boundaries and "personal space" and the feeling of the invasion of same if the "viewing" goes on too long.

how the woman feels about her own body; the messages that she has received throughout her life about it;

what her life experiences have been w/men;

she could just be SHY or even AFRAID of men (back to messages about herself and the opposite sex, again)...just to name a few. :-)

Hannah said...

Pure win.

And I'm working on this. :)

Unknown said...

Great comment, TC[Girl]! And guys, if you'd like more info as to why some women may not be comfortable being looked at, search for "male gaze" on Google.

Thanks for the essay & photo, Eolake.

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

Found it here.

Personally I think that when somebody has to stretch as far as *a look* to find what they are supposedly suppressed by, then victim-culture has been taken a step too far.

Pascal [P-04referent] said...

"I guess the belief is that somehow you're hurting a person by looking at them?"
Sweet old Odin's only ogler, are you people telling me you've never heard of the Evil Eye??? In the name of gentle Juno's juicy jugglers, what backwards, primitive, Wotan-forsaken hicksville do you people COME from?!?
By cranky Crom's crooked tooth, I'm among barbarians!
May magnificent Moloch's mighty mercy help us! How uneducated and backwards can some people be!
Simply appalling...

Bronislaus Janulis / Framewright said...

TC, Lucid and to the point. Pascal, you are in fine form.

Women bear the brunt of sexuality, so it should be their choice; as to the gaze, my wide angle vision allows me to see "all", while focusing on the face and smiling, politely. Act like a GENTLE man.

As a counter to the radical feminism of the the wiki article, the feminist manifesto in the ancient novel, "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress", by Heinlein, seems apropo.

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

"Women bear the brunt of sexuality"

That's a common view. I think it implies that sexuality is a burden for women, not a pleasure.

One might also argue that it gives them considerable power that men don't have. The number of free favors done to sexy women, and the number of hen-pecked men through history... !

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

... And if in exchange for that we don't even get to *look*!...

Eagle Eyes said...

A lot of women are sensitive about their looks and also believe that they must look perfect, but that's not what I want. Personally, seeing scars and other marks on the skin just means that they are alive and kicking.

Some women go too far and actually get breast implants--breast reductions do not count. I won't deny that they look good, but it's better to see a women the way God made her. Nobody's perfect.

Now, guys will go too far when it comes to women and mistake beauty for sex; unfortunately, you take the sex element out, are women still beautiful? Yes, they are, but there's something taken away.

Women, don't attempt to make your body perfect. That's just not going to happen, but you'll be beautiful--maybe more so.

wheeler said...

"why do men do that?"...Because, we're genetically programmed to want to LOOK!!!But, most women don't understand it.Men like bodies...women like brains.They don't care what they're looking at! About the two ladies with wedding rings:My guess is that the one that covered up was a religious fanatic!

Ned said...

I want to pass my appreciation on to Daniel for writing this. While I have long been a fan of Domai (even have my own article published somewhere on here), I always failed to take into account the need to promote a woman's self worth as part of it. I come from a family which was highly critical at all times, and the women of my life have always rankled at my criticism, which was always intended to be honest and open - it had positive ideals behind it, but it caused very negative effects. The women I've been involved with have turned inward like the first woman from the hardware store in Daniel's story.

Recently, I have been trying to help a female friend who I am not interested in (the difference in age is too great), but she has been put down and made to feel worthless all of her life. Seeing how it has affected her, my heart has been opened up a bit more to the negative affects of my own actions, and shown me the need for positive reinforcement.

I guess that was an aspect of Domai that I had never considered before, or maybe just never noticed.

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

Ned, that's awesome!

If you expand it a bit, I'd like to publish it as a letter.

Pascal [P-04referent] said...

It's funny, I too have a few friends like that. I mean, not a romantic interest, but women who could use a few sincere compliments to correct the balance of negative influences in their life.
But I promised my friends -all of them- to publicly reveal no personal details. I'm sure Ned's "expanding" will either say all that's relevant, or inspire me some "privacy-unrevealing" comments. :-)

It's a bit like professional secrecy: as long as you don't reveal anything identifying a patient and betraying their trust, you can discuss relevant cases on an academic level.
Usually keeping some stuff you know to yourself.

But, bottom line, even if I don't have any intention of courting a woman, I wouldn't hesitate to boost her self-confidence with a sincere compliment.

Domai, being a commercially-aimed site, is constrained by certain aesthetic standards. (Basically, "young cuties", "what the public wants".) But a woman's beauty doesn't come to an abrupt end at her 27th birthday! Or depend on long legs, huge boobs, large booty... (and absence of Lebanese-style handlebar-shaped facial hair, ay caramba!)

In their own, unique way, as I've said again and again, all healthy people are beautiful. If somebody out there feels they're not beautiful, well, work on getting healthier!
Sometimes on the physical plan, sometimes it's psychological health that needs improving. Confidence, knowledge, non-judgementalism, serenity, basically opening up your mind and soul.
Nothing makes a face, any face, as swiftly ugly as ignorant hatred and tense anger.

And if, after all that healthiness, some people still don't find you beautiful, then doubtlessly they're thick philistines whose opinion doesn't matter. It may affect your practical life, but in the big picture, it doesn't "really matter".

There are places in the world where a woman is only deemed "beautiful" if she's got hugely swollen legs from an endemic parasitic disease of the lymphatic system [Elephantiasis, a really nasty sight, you have been warned!]. Or if she's obese. It's the social norm, but still it's pure buffalo. (Name of the local bulls. ;-)

I'd say it is equal longhorn, in America, to decree that a woman has to be shaped like two watermelons attached to a spaghetti in order to be pretty.
You know: silicons-filled watermelons on an amphetamin/cocaine-fueled anorexia...
Oh, and let's not forget the lamprey's succion cup mouth under the filed down nose stub, and the fake corn hair over the blistered cheekbones!

I should draw a cartoon of the "official and contemporary perfect woman". A.K.A. tart Auntie Boogeywoman!!!
Should be a hilarious sight. :-P
Yes, I think I'll blog it one day... NYAHAHAHAHA!

Ned said...

I write this as a response to and an appreciation for the letter written by Daniel. While I have long been a fan of Domai (and have been published once: - mine is the story that rambles about Dante & Plato), I had perhaps a rather one-sided consideration of what the Domai pledge meant. I had relished in the beauty of women portrayed on the side, and I quite often stared unabashedly at beautiful women I encountered elsewhere, but my viewings were not the viewings of a man with a conscious thought of the humanity of my subject; rather, they deified or vilified, depending on the situation.

I had forgotten that the people I was looking at were human beings, too. I failed to take into account the need to promote a woman’s self worth as part of the exchange. Appreciating the beauty of a woman does not mean to lust after her as a slut or pine for her as an unapproachable goddess, but to realize that she is human with human flaws and failings, and to recognize that she needs to be appreciated. In some ways, the sharing of nudity is an exchange of appreciation – the nude person appreciates the viewer, and the viewer appreciates the nude. Both are edified.

I come from a family which was highly critical at all times. The men of my family demand absolute perfection from those around us. We believe, unconsciously, that everyone strives for perfection at all times and simply fails to achieve it and that if their failings were evaluated and explained they could be overcome. This belief is based on entirely pure motives, but its outcome is anything but pure. It results in us being overly critical of everyone around us. I have sadly witnessed the women I’ve been involved with turn inward like the first hardware store woman in Daniel’s story.

I know that I am not entirely responsible for this (all of society encourages such negative mindsets) but I have now realized that I have been a negative influence myself, rather than a positive one. Daniel’s own insistence of the beauty of women was a powerful tool for building their self-confidence; my criticism was a powerful tool for destroying it.

An older Christian woman who I know, who I have always loved in Christ although I must admit I have criticized her as well, has recently begun to open up to me about her own life story as I opened up to her with mine. We found we have several things in common, such as the pattern of critical abuse in our childhoods, such as rejection by loved ones throughout our lives, and so on. While it has made me into the critic, it has made her into someone who is scared witless of criticism, who makes self-effacing jokes constantly, and who, regardless of her abilities, believes herself to be unable to do anything right or please anyone. As she opened up to me about this, my own criticisms of her came racing back to my mind, and I realized for the first time how they must be perceived. I made a pledge to myself to always try to build her up (even though I must admit that sometimes I am too tired to do so – we cannot be always ready for such things) or, at the very least, to make sure that anything negative I frame as not being her fault. I make it a point now to hug her every day and tell her that she is important to me.

Understand that this has only come within the last few weeks. It read as extremely providential when I opened up Domai and read Daniel’s letter. I had not been considering how this website could have been in-line with this new ideological path I’m setting out on. It’s made me realize for the first time that my criticism drove my approach to women all along, from looking at pictures on this awesome website, to seeing and talking to beautiful girls in the real world, to my personal relationships.

I can only hope the change is permanent. But today, I’m renewing my Domai pledge, because today it means something totally different. It means letting appreciation be a two-way street, an exchange of admiration, approval, and acceptance between equals.

Anonymous said...

Women are not sex objects! They are people with feelings and should be respected and treated that way. By a man "looking up and down" at a woman, you are demonstrating that you only see her as a nice piece of sexual meat. That is how many women see men who look at them like that. It is not that they don't think of themselves as beautiful, it is that they are fully aware that there are men who are only interested in ONE thing and are trying to protect themselves from perverted males. Appreciation of a woman's beauty has got to be done without them feeling like you don't respect them as people first.

MJ said...

Dear Daniel, – I just finished reading your letter to Domai (again), after going back to the Domai newsletter from Sara that you mentioned – and then the letter from Maggie that Sara mentions in her letter. Let me say ‘thank you’ to each of you, and Eolake.
I totally agree with you, Daniel, that there is a sad situation that many women have a difficult time believing in their beauty, and/or in our appreciation of that beauty. I also believe that our sincere and persistent admiration – especially of those women who know we are not using them for lust – will often eventually reap deep and wonderful results in their self-appreciation. Knowing how to go about expressing that appreciation can be difficult at times, but persistence over the long haul is generally going to bear fruit.
TC Girl mentions that “Looking discreetly, tastefully, and respectfully, is appreciated by most, I believe.” I especially insist on the ‘respectfully’. If a woman feels she is being respected, then admiration will be received with its true intention. And if she perceives (or thinks she perceives) a lack of respect, then expression of admiration will not be appreciated. TC Girl points out some important reasons why a woman might experience difficulties in believing that a man’s viewing her beauty could be simple appreciation: This is an incredibly sad situation, to be sure. Not one to be approved or even tolerated. But sadly, it is the experience of some women.
It may also be the case that a woman has never really been reassured of her beauty in a way that was safe and convincing for her.
Happily there are numerous women – both in the images of Domai, and in the stories of those who have contributed in Domai newsletters – that show how some women feel safe enough and want to share their beauty, and are able to acknowledge the appreciation in grateful response to our gazes. How great it would be if that were the norm rather than the exception!
I love something that Ned says in one of his comments: “In some ways, the sharing of nudity is an exchange of appreciation – the nude person appreciates the viewer, and the viewer appreciates the nude. Both are edified.” Put perfectly!
Ned referenced a letter of his, and I find myself agreeing from the bottom of my heart. The beauty of creation in all its forms – sunset, for example, or a beautiful woman - brings the observer to admiration of the Creator of that beauty. I believe that human beauty ~ especially the beauty of a woman ~ is God’s handiwork at its finest. I absolutely second Ned’s personal pledge to ‘build up’ the woman in his life who had fallen prey to criticism around her and had been so unable to see her own goodness. I suppose that HOW we might do it with any woman in our life depends on our own relationship with each woman. If we are close, that daily hug and encouraging words Ned uses might be just the thing. If are seeing a woman for the first time, maybe a simple smile would be a good start. Or a comment / compliment that we hope at least would be well-received.
I suppose it is inevitable that sometimes we will receive negative responses, even to innocent attempts at admiration. There will be some women who react as if a smile or a compliment means a man is trying to pick them up, or that they are in danger of an attack by a pervert. But hopefully there will be more and more women who come to believe in their own beauty, and in our simple and sincere admiration and appreciation.
If, at the end of my life, there are a few, or even one woman who really comes to believe in her goodness and her beauty because of my sincere admiration, then I will have left the world a better place. And that outweighs any rejections I may receive along the way. And for the times that admiration is received well, as Ned says: “Both are edified.” Admirer and admired. Here’s to building each other up, one person at a time! Thank you, Eolake, for providing Domai and your blog, as instruments for that edification.
Sincerely MJ

Anonymous said...

Thank you all for your comments. Have you seen the movie Shallow Hal?

Pascal [P-04referent] said...

That movie was even discussed in one of the Domai newsletters!