Warning: this post may offend some people. It is a large dose of raw reality. I always love comments, but please keep it clean and respectful. We are all adults, lets make sure to act like it.
Yesterday my friend Christy and I headed to walk some trails at our local college for exercise and to do something “different” than our normal morning walk around our neighborhood. I could tell something was on her mind but when I asked, she said she couldn't even quite put words to it. Here is the scenario:
The night before she went to a different church for Wednesday Night Supper. She didn't have a real great experience right from the beginning, but what had her dumbfounded was the sermon.
The sermon was from Colossians Chapter 3 where it talks about how a woman should “submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.” (Col 3:18) The Pastor went into some detail about how couples seem to “let themselves go” once they are in a relationship, and how appearance and hygiene and such seem to fall to the wayside. He even went as far as to tell the women that they “need to lose weight and put on makeup and do their hair and get out of sweatpants” so that they are more pleasing to their men.
Surprisingly, this is not the part that sent her (and I as she told me) over the edge.
The Pastor did continue on in the Chapter where it is also told that “Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.” (Col 3:19) and he nailed the guys about how they treat their wives and their expectations and that they should also HELP with the children, and household etc. (which is GREAT!)
The part that kept sticking out though was how he was talking only about a woman's appearance and a man's behavior. Even went as far as to say “Men are visual creatures…”
Here is what get's me….
WOMEN ARE VISUAL CREATURES TOO!!
The Pastor said something about the wives needing to lose weight to be more appealing to the man…. but why not point out that most MEN who have gotten “comfortable” could stand to trim a few pounds too? And no guys won't put makeup on… but they could shave their face everyday!!
Just because there are more topless bars than male dance clubs does not mean women are any less visual – it simply means we are just not as OPEN with what we like. (and don't get me started on THAT bandwagon…) There is a reason why men like Matthew McConaughey and Brad Pitt and Taylor Lautner sell millions and millions of magazines with them on the cover. (Hello Playboy… “we like the articles”…. rrrriiiigggghhhhtttt.) Or why Adam Levine posed naked for UK Cosmo to promote awareness of prostate cancer. That was certainly not an ad for men.
In the beginning of relationships I think people are almost overly concerned with their appearance, and go to great lengths to impress their partner – both the men and women. This is of course due to the fact that being a SLOB is not a real appealing quality. But why then is it ok to become a slob later in the relationship?! At what point is it ok to STOP caring about your appearance and STOP trying to impress your partner?
In my opinion: Never.
The second part of this Scripture also talks about how it is a woman's “duty” to take care of her man sexually. I believe that this is paramount for BOTH sexes. Most men (and some women) would say that they do not have enough sex. In fact, the two main causes for the huge divorce rate in our country are sex and money. (or lack there of) Most every couple reports a fantastic sex life in the beginning of the relationship, but report that it slowly declines. And of course there is the adage of “sex ends with marriage.”
With that being said, doesn't it kind of stand to reason that intimacy rapidly declines when two partners “let themselves go!?” Can't we agree that the two issues are directly connected? How is anyone supposed to find beer guts and scruffy faces and ponytails and dirty sweatpants sexy? Especially when you were such a goddess in the beginning?
When are we going to realize that WOMEN are just as visual as men, and that relationships and intimacy decline at the same exact rate that “letting ourselves go” does.
If you Google “Why do people let themselves go,” you will find thousands of articles where people have tried to explain the psychology of (what I call) laziness in relationships. Oprah, Dr Phil, and hundreds of others have addressed this topic, and every single one of them agree that it is detrimental to the intimacy of a relationship. WHY if we all KNOW THIS do we keep doing it!?!
Women aren't on their own list of priorities.
After taking care of everyone else, they are always putting themselves last on the list, and often have very little left to give. There are many women who aren't living—they are just existing. This is a form of self-abuse. Women often wear their exhaustion as a badge of honor. The more you do for your loved ones, the more acceptable it becomes to “let yourself go.” Women believe it's okay to become a “sacrificial lamb” within their own families. This is a lie that we allow ourselves to buy into, but we need to wake up! The challenge for women is that they must re-language what it means to be a wife and mother. Being a good wife and mother means that if you don't take care of yourself, in the long run you are ultimately harming all the otherpeople you love in your life. You won't be the only one who takes the hit. ~Oprah
Mike and I have been together nearly 3 years now. We have two children (from my previous marriage) four dogs, both work from home… in other words we are no more or less “busy” than any other couple out there. We have the same bills, same stresses, same responsibilities, same arguments. He can probably count on two hands the number of days he has seen me without makeup, without my hair done, not showered, etc. It's a priority for me. In fact, it is a TOP priority for me and sometimes means getting up an hour before everyone else….I'm cool with that. I know it matters that much.
But why do men think it does not matter for them? Even this Pastor who was quick to tell the ladies how to be more aesthetically pleasing to their men, did not make a single mention about the MEN'S appearance being equally as important. Do women not deserve to be equally as attracted to our mates? Are we supposed to settle and be ok with kissing bad breath or running our hands through greasy hair?
Not in this lifetime.
Letting yourself go is not exclusively a male pursuit, of course. It's just that men can get away with it. ~Huffington Post
In my opinion it boils down to laziness and under prioritizing our own self and our partners. The irony is that women “let themselves go” because they tend to prioritize themselves LAST – behind their partner and children. Men on the other hand let themselves go because they prioritize themselves FIRST, and take for granted that they have “caught” their woman and that she has promised to stay, so they give in to their laziness and do not prioritize their own appearance.
How can I prove this? The #1 thing that happens after a divorce – both individuals lose a ton of weight, and begin a journey of “self improvement.” (Why do we not do this while we are IN the relationships!? MAYBE the relationships would not end!!) When they are on their own again, they prioritize themselves, and start doing the things to make themselves feel good again… 99% of which is appearance.
On one hand I am glad I was not at this sermon, as I am not sure I could have sat still throughout without raising my hand to respectfully ask a few questions. (Yes, I am that girl) But on the other, I wish I had been there, as I think this is an “additional” teaching of this Scripture that we need to make just as important, and begin working with our partners and children in teaching them that it is absolutely NOT ok to “let yourself go” and that it is ok to demand that your partner not either.
Let me close by adding that I do believe that “beauty is more than skin deep” and that vanity is not the #1 biggest priority in one's life. I also know that a man's (or womans!) worth can not be measured by his outward appearance. HOWEVER, in this context – of a Preacher telling the women how THEY need to appear to their mate – I believe that “what is good for the goose is good for the gander” and that a relationship is no place for a double standard – especially when it comes to appearance.