“Women in their forties, they’re not as hot, but they’re so much more comfortable with themselves,” he said. And then he got stuck, smiling into space, unable to express in words that certain je ne sais quoi that he felt around these mysterious creatures known as women who were comfortable with themselves. He waved a hand, and again no words came, because English has words for bien dans sa peau, and English-speaking cultures don't understand sex or the fundamental life force of which sex is a symptom.
He’s wrong, I thought. Comfort with self is the essence of hotness.
And ever since that night, that guy’s offensive remark keeps coming back and biting me in the (sublimely hot) ass. Every time I notice something hot, I stop and assess the root of its hotness, and every time, the answer is an internally experienced, loving, and aware inhabitation of life.
It’s weird going to school with a lot of kids in their early 20s and being on campus with actual children, teenagers just a couple years past going to the pediatrician. For one thing, I always knew that men smelled like pheromones, and young men and men who exercise a lot smell even more, but I didn’t know that young women smell too! Crivens! Packs of nubile maidens roam the university and they knock me out, leaving opaque mauve silk scarves of pheromones trailing behind them in the wind. Thick, thick fertility fumes, God could not possibly advertise any louder. “Come over here, it’s time for sex, I’m ready to make healthy babies,” sing these fresh bouncy bodies, so loudly, practically any other conversation gets drowned out.
The bodies are clear. But the people driving them are clueless.
I fret like a mother hen every day I walk around school, because I see legions of young people who don’t know to love themselves yet. They don’t even know themselves. A certain amount of unawareness is understandable, because they’re just babies, here to be born and to grow and learn. But it makes me sad to see all these young women (and the boys too, but it’s more pronounced and more universal in the young women) walking around uncomfortable in themselves, with apologetic, protective, self-unloving postures, speaking with voices they’ve learned to dissociate from their truths, connecting with others but ashamed to connect with the self...I see so much to be sad about in these larvae, who know so little and yet have already learned so much bad information.
The bodies are juicy and succulent. But there’s nobody home inside them yet. It’s like, “nice girls don’t live in their bodies.” It’s like society has been teaching these young women that it’s bad to be in themselves and to love themselves.
I hear that we’ve come a long way, baby (or at least I used to hear that—one doesn’t see cigarette ads in magazines any more, so maybe we have come a long way). But life is still shit for women. Society is still horrible to women. And women themselves are eager perpetrators of all the fun ways in which society is horrible to women. The world is an unfair place and it is still true that men are brought up to have a more loving and honouring relationship with self than women are.
When I see these teenaged girls and young women around me and I think of how difficult it must be for their male professors to get anything done, with these neon Mating Signals blaring in their classrooms all the time, I then get huffy at the weary commonplaceness of men in their forties (also known as “men”) falling for women in their twenties (also known as “young girls in a completely different place in their lives”). Now that I’m around superabundant proliferances of sweet young things and their oodles of energy, that commonplaceality confounds me all the more. I’m sure every man thinks he’s falling for the individual. But Nature says he knows that a sweet young thing is primed for sex and babies and places relationships, bonding, nurturing, and mating at the pinnacle of her priority list. I get the biology. But I don’t understand the sociology.
I mean...what do they have to talk about?
And then I saw the Victoria’s Secret models.
Or rather I saw their butts. Kind of hard to see anything else.
Thing was, after seeing all these young women faltering around the university, uncomfortable with themselves, telegraphing uncertainty and self-dislike and shame and unawareness and working hard to disassociate themselves with their meat suits, I saw the models, the same age, and I knew that they could not possibly have lived long enough yet to have come to love themselves with awareness and honour. I knew, for sure, that these young ladies in their undies did not have the inner chops yet to really own their costume choices. They simply weren’t old enough yet to glory in their seminudity, nor to exult in it.
To me they looked like exploited prey. I got pissed. Someone out there is making a quick buck (or a quick million bucks) off the fact that some young woman out there needs money. Once again, someone is out there taking advantage of women and draining away their energetic resources.
Now, I am all for women sharing their sexuality in whatever way feels right for them. I know about times when Ishtar explodes through your red blood and you feel that having sex with all of Manhattan is the only possible course of action (or at least, I used to). I am proud of women’s beautiful bodies and delight in their power to arouse and make people feel alive and human. I am thrilled that the sight of a woman fills people with desire.
The fact that these models are paid says that this is something they wouldn’t do for free, and since they wouldn’t do it for free, that means there is some part of them somewhere that is not jumping up and down with total delight that they have to do it. And because that element of reticence exists, I say these ads are wrong. If exactly the same pictures were taken because these same women felt bold, free, and like shining their bodies in the public eye like priestesses, wonderful! If in exchange men were then moved to shower them with pearls and rubies and college tuitions, great!
But that’s not how it was done. And by now these girls are starting to bring out the Angry Mom in me. I know about life. I know about people en masse. I know that people are self-interested, and if that means mowing you down and sucking you dry and using you, they will. It’s not about you, it’s about them, but that doesn’t make it right.
Somebody has to speak up for the Victoria’s Secret Models. I am happy for them that they make good money. I am happy for them that all that public recognition must afford them a degree of emotional rewards. They must know that they’re ubiquitous fantasies for men all over the world, that must give them a measure of emotional security. A kind of love. But coming from the outside, and totally tied to sex, and totally tied to appearance. They have to be young and thin and posed right and made up and lit right and Photoshopped and everything has to be just so and they have to work hard at making everything perfect, and then the men love them. This is not the kind of message I want young women to take away. Especially because, despite convenient myths that models are a bunch of girls who just naturally have the metabolisms of wolverines, most models throw away infinite precious energetic resources on dieting, on denying themselves, on trying to be slim and take up less space in this world, on eating disorders, on making themselves sick just to be thin and small and unthreatening...in short, the warped message is: if you want men to love you, you have to hate yourself first.
I am the Victoria’s Secret Lorax. I speak for the models—because, since they’re women, society has taught them to shut up, be nice, expose their vulnerability for mass consumption, keep their heads down, take up no emotional or physical space, and offer themselves up for the sexual enjoyment of men without ever awakening to their own universe of sexuality. Because that’s what nice girls do. They get paid, and they get emotional validation, but I hazard that the energetic cost of garnering this pay is way too high.
If those girls had all the money they could possibly want, and if they loved themselves on the inside the way it takes a long lifetime to learn how to get back to doing as children do, they would not be on those posters, and therefore, those posters are wrong. And there’s nothing I can do about them.
But we can all make a difference by living as we would have others live.
Women of the world, please go touch yourselves! Any part of you. An elbow. A breast. A foot. A strand of hair. And listen for the voice of that body part, and touch it with love. Don’t let go until the message gets through.
Do it again tomorrow. And every day after that, forever.
And may the Force be with you.