I enjoyed this piece on Jezebel that asks the question "Are Men Attracted to What They Think Other Men Approve Of? The object of attraction this case is a the little-explored topic of women's bodies. Haha, just kidding everybody talks about women's bodies all the time, especially me.
Anyway, the article says:
"It's not that all men — or even most straight white men — genuinely prefer skinny women. It's that for a great many men, having a thin, conventionally pretty girlfriend is a way to win status in the eyes of other men. It's not actually about what they themselves want. Put simply, men and women alike confuse what it is that men are attracted to with what it is that men imagine will win them approval."
I totally agree with this. I have never been able to reconcile my experience of how much so many dudes seem to genuinely enjoy putting it in a larger body with the extreme Internet vigilanteism against even an ounce of "extra" fat. While some men certainly geniunely prefer a smaller body, just as some genuinely prefer a larger one, I'm almost certain there are more out there who enjoy a wide range of bodies, including fat ones, but are ashamed to admit it.
I agree with all that, and yet, while reading this piece, all I could think about was my date to the my first junior high dance. I had developed a raging crush on this guy during Academic Team practices, which as I'm sure you can imagine, were quite passionate. He was a grade above me, extremely smart, and he was fat. He also once played the Star Wars theme on the piano in the school talent show, in case you're not getting a mental picture here.
He asked me to attend a school dance with him, and I accepted, incorporating our big night into my already pretty extensive masturbation fantasies. I was on cloud 9. For about one day, at which point the reality of his social status began to sink in. I'm not sure why I was so worried about it, since literally no one thought I was cool, but I guess even the worst kind of white trash likes to think they're better than black people.
When I got there, I panicked. I didn't wanna dance with him and I got scared so I pretended to be sick and went home. In case you doubt my recollection, here is what I wrote in my 7th grade diary:
But I felt really bad, you guys! What my diary doesn't recall is that in my desparate scrambling for an escape route, I told the poor guy that I had to go because I was "anemic," like a total boner.
And I really, really liked this guy! But I was worried about what other people would think. And lest you assume this is typical adolescent self-consciousness, some of the best sex of my life came from a guy I was embarassed to leave the house with. Because of the way he looked! I was attracted to him, but I didn't want other people to know I was attracted to him.
So it's not just men whose natural desires are subsumed by social expectations. Socialization is all up in our heads when it comes to whose meat-suit we want to rub against ours. Like short guys: There's no real reason why they should be any less attractive than tall guys. Yet plenty of women wouldn't want their friends to see them towering over a date. We live in a looks-obsessed society, and its long, bony finger touches us all.
The article states, "Though guys usually have sex in private, they have romantic relationships in public -- and "hot" women are talismans of masculinity to be displayed to other men." But so do women, and isn't a hot man his own kind of status symbol?
There are exceptions on both sides of the gender divide, and it's possible (not definite) that most women's definitions of "attractive" may be a bit more forgiving than most men's. But I wonder if the intersection of desire, status and social approval isn't just a plain ol' human problem.
Or am I the only one who's ever been hot for someone who wasn't "conventionally attractive" enough to truly consider as a partner? And in case you're still thinking about what a bad person I am for ditching my dance date, I'll have you know that I spent the next decade banging every fattie I saw as reparation. By God, I've paid my dues.