It is well known that in the bird world males are the flamboyant, colorful characters, sporting bright plumage and singing about their assets to attract the less conspicuous females. I envy those lucky chicks who can hide in the foliage, quietly watching and judging all the song-and-dance routines before making their choice for this season’s nest-mate.
In the human world, we gals don’t have it as easy. Sexual attraction is our burden, much to the delight and profit of world’s fashion, cosmetic, and perfume industries. It’s even worse since medical technology joined the party. If we are no longer satisfied with the effects of putting paints, dyes, bleaches, lotions, and chemicals on our bodies, we have more options; we can enhance our bodies with “cosmetic” procedures, many of them surgical, some of them dangerous. The list of what women can do — and are really implored to do — to appear sexually attractive is quite long, starting with a little lipstick and ending god-knows-where in the realm of breast augmentation, facelifts, and tummy tucks. A chirpy song-and-dance routine seems simple by comparison.
For most women, the mandate to be sexually attractive starts its drum roll around puberty when we are biologically preparing to mate. This makes sense to me. But the crazy part is that it seems to get worse as we age. When we have biologically passed our reproductive years, do we feel liberated, happy that we are no longer required to be on stage “working it”? Sadly, we do not. Instead, we continue to struggle to look young and sexy, often to desperate ends. More make-up “tricks”, more hair dye, perhaps some pole dance classes. How many women in their 50s and 60s have you seen wearing (what looks like) their daughter’s clothing, with visible tattoos, and not a gray strand on their heads?
Escaping this cultural imperative is not easy. We can be shocked by Valeria Lukyanova, the human Barbie doll, but none of us is completely immune. Unless we belong to a religion that considers women’s sexuality to be dangerous and in need of suppression, we all fall somewhere on the spectrum. But does it ever end? Ever? When we outlive our partners, and there are no men left to attract, and there is no more sex in our sex lives, will we finally let our breasts sag, our bottoms spread, our hair go gray? And if we do, when we look in the mirror, what will we see? Ugly, old, useless hags or our wrinkled, wise, wonderful selves?