Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Of trophy wives and silicone

Something from my old site, circa 2001

Aaaah, finally on a dream vacation to Mexico. There I was, under a beach umbrella, comfortable on a chaise lounge, reading a fat historical novel -- when right next to me I heard, "Babe, I hate to tell you this, but I think they're REAL. Come here, take a look."

Intrigued, I peered over my book to look at the Neanderthal who called his significant other "babe" in public (don't babes belong on the arm of some mob boss in an old time gangster flick). Sure enough, there was this big, buffed-up, twenty-something guy, looking like a football linebacker, standing with a male friend on a small retaining wall that overlooked the beach. He was motioning to his girlfriend to climb onto the wall. This was followed by some giggling and "Babe" getting another girlfriend to join her.

"There, in the purple," points Neanderthal Man. The two women reply, "No way. No way they're real." The four of them stood on the wall for several more minutes discussing how to tell the difference between real and fake. They were anything but discreet.

The subject of their debate was a young woman who had been causing whiplash at our resort for days. She seemed, to put it delicately, very well-endowed. The foursome were obviously discussing the composition of her breasts -- real or man-made.

Several thoughts came to mind while observing this little scene. First of all, I wanted to kick Neanderthal Man in the balls. It's one thing to look at other women while with your wife or girlfriend - it's quite another to make a point of telling her what you're ogling. In essence, it seemed he was really saying, "Hey, babe, I'm looking at breasts. Wow, look at the size of those!" Didn't it occur to him that Babe might think he was making comparisons? And if he took such joy at looking at other women's breasts, that she might feel a tad under-developed for his tastes? This guy was definitely not Mr. Sensitive. (Babe, by the way, was very pretty). Then I thought, what female in her right mind would hang around a guy like this? Not only be with him, but participate in his salivating voyeurism?

Over the next few days, I kept thinking about this incident. It kept playing over in my mind as I observed the same guy and his friend doing double-takes at every female under the age of forty. Then I started taking a closer look at the women on the beach. Was it my imagination or were there an inordinate number of D-cups out there? No, it wasn't my imagination. There really were a lot of enhanced breasts out there. -- and, yes guys, most women can tell the difference even if you can't. Here were all these beautiful women with toned, slender bodies who felt it necessary to augment their breasts to look like Pamela Anderson clones. More often than not, they accompanied older, paunchy men with lots of jewellery. It's the first time I've seriously thought about the term "trophy wife". You know, the gorgeous, perfectly-turned-out women seen on the arms of VIPs, execs, sports celebs, and other up-and-coming young men. You hardly hear anything about who these women are or what they do, but they sure look good in photo ops and social soirees. Could it be that this is what young women are aspiring to become? Breast augmentation certainly ain't for their health.

I felt myself getting angry. I wanted to shout, "What's the matter with you? Haven't you heard about all the women who've had implants removed because of complications? Have you thought of how ridiculous you'll look at age 65 when gravity takes it's toll, your butt sags, your neck gets crepe-y, and your upper arms jiggle, but your breasts remain perfectly firm, symmetrical and perky? Where's your sense of self-respect?"

I have visions of archaeologists, millennia from now, unearthing 21st century coffins and wondering what bizarre ritual required leaving plastic pouches of silicone on the chests of female bodies. Then I thought how sad and pathetic that these women might actually need breast implants for their self-esteem, or think that it's the only way to remain attractive.

And it was with this mixture of sadness and anger that I considered the main reason women undergo major surgery to get breast implants. They want to attract men. They want to please the men in their lives. And Western men are obsessed with breasts. Large breasts. Men don't seem to care whether the breasts are real or synthetic, as long as they're large. What's with that? First of all, they are essentially lusting after mammary glands, meant for nourishing the young of the species. Second, they are lusting after inanimate pouches of silicone, saline, or whatever else scientists come up with to fill the pouches. I obviously don't get it - but I'm not a man.

As a woman, it's distressing to see intelligent women (they can't all be bimbos) choosing this and other cosmetic procedures in increasing numbers. Plastic surgeons report that despite the potential risks, more and more women are choosing breast augmentation. Teenaged girls are getting breast implants as graduation presents for gawdsakes! It's like the women's movement never happened. Remember how women fought to be viewed as individuals, not just sex objects? How they wanted to be more than just adjuncts of a man or a trophy wife? It seems appearance over substance has won out after all.

I guess that's what I'm really upset about - the thought that the women's movement of the 60s and 70s has come to naught.

Which brings me back to Neanderthal Man and Babe. My guess is that Babe went home and made an appointment with a plastic surgeon and had some serious discussions with her girlfriends about the merits of a D-cup versus a double C. Maybe I'm wrong. I hope I am.

An Addendum: Not directly related, but along the same lines as the above; I recently had a conversation with my youngest son about a variety of things to do with young adults and their attitudes about sexist behaviour. In his opinion, he thinks sexism in young people is prevalent and, if not getting worse, not getting any better either. His girlfriend has a job working among a fair number of men and it's anything but a comfortable environment. Taunting, accidental bumping and sexual innuendo disguised as jokes is still alive and well.

I don't think I'll ever understand it. Don't these men have wives, mothers, sisters and girlfriends? Would they want their own loved ones treated with such disrespect? I remain saddened and dismayed.


kenju said...

ELL, I came over here to see your blog after reading your story at Ronni's. I don't think we will ever change men's ideas of big boobs (whether real or fake). I will never understand why they like the obviously fake ones!

TravelinOma said...

I'm following along. It's like the Pied Piper. Your story enticed me and your blog has captured me!

ell said...

kenju, I really don't get it either. They may as well get a rubber blow-up doll. :-D

Marty, thank-you. Love your blog too.

Wenda said...

"the women's movement of the 60s and 70s has come to naught" ~ I feel some concern about this too, and sometime feel disheartened by the backlash and backslides, but I also see a few positive signs that the movement towards recognizing and acknowledging equality between the sexes has not ended. The Richmond Fire Department fiasco and resulting changes leaves me with some hope.

Wenda said...

PS ~ Thanks for the big hug.

Cate said...

Bravo, Ell. I laughed out loud several times while reading this post, but you are right--such a serious, sad, disheartening incident.

I see that sexism in so many areas (parenting, work, relationships)--have been absolutely annhilated by OTHER WOMEN who have suggested that I am a piss poor wife because my husband frequently took the night shift with our sons. Funny how we sometimes turn on our own. Also "funny" how many women rise to please others in terms of appearance (putting their health at risk).

Excellent post. xo

P.S. If my man ever called me "babe," I'd shut him down immediately.