Set Up to Fail

You’ve all probably heard about unrealistic standards of beauty. I won’t argue it. I’ve seen the videos of how models are Photoshopped into marvelously thin, long-necked, big-busted beauties.

But it’s more than all that. Yes, the standard is impossible to reach (healthily and without makeup or surgery). The question is why are we trying to reach it? Why does society tell us it’s so important? Why do women’s magazines focus on hair tips, perfect makeup, and how to lose weight – all strategies to get closer to that ideal.

Why do women (not men) need to look beautiful?

Here’s a clue: “How to Get a Good Man – And Keep Him.” This title and its like are so prevalent that I hate to think of that person trying to come up with a new title and twist on this for the next article. No matter what iteration, it’s all about strategies in the war of “love.” Women must look beautiful to get a man, and they must look beautiful to keep him.

Oh, society has unbent a little over the years. Women can work and have successful careers. They can share child-rearing with their husbands or go into the military. We can even have different men before settling on the one we want to keep without being outcast (well, in many places). But a woman’s main purpose, according to society, is to catch a man and keep him.

So how is that setting us up to fail?

Has anyone else noticed that besides being photoshopped and impossible, beauty also has an age. You don’t see models over 50 – well, you might, but only if they look under 30. Because signs of age are not beautiful.

Let me get this straight. Women are supposed to look beautiful so that men will want them, society tells both men and women what “beautiful” is, and society’s definition is part synonymous with “young.”

Even if you succeed – you starve yourself, exercise, tan, paint on makeup, dress stylishly – and “catch a good man.” Now, you’re supposed to live happily ever after, right?


Well, if you really caught him with beauty (like society told you to), you have a problem. Beauty is part youth, so the older you get, the less beautiful you are – by society’s definition. You thought beauty was impossible before? You’re fighting time, you’re fighting biology, and you’re fighting the inevitable. Anti-wrinkle cream. Rejuvenating lotions. Don’t mention a woman’s age so that she can pass herself off as younger and, therefore, more beautiful.

Anything to hide the signs of aging because once they show up, you’re no longer beautiful.

And what happens when you’re no longer beautiful? Well, what happens when you break a contract? He chose you for your beauty, right? Now, you’re old, not beautiful.

Deal breaker.

Thanks, society. Thanks for telling us a strategy for success that has a time limit.

If women’s magazines really wanted to help, they’d tell us how to find a man whose definition of beauty isn’t a ticking time bomb. They’d tell us how to catch a man with our brains and our personality. At least then, we’d have a better chance.


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