My friend Rebecca and I noticed something strange about men when we
were living in Spain. Despite the care we took to cultivate our
respective “looks” whilst on the prowl (I went artsy, sex kitten Boho,
Rebecca was a naughty tomboy), our greatest romantic triumphs never
happened when we were all dolled up. During one sweaty afternoon, my
friend and I came to realize we were most attractive to men when we
were, of all things, jogging.
Rebecca and I made it a habit to run around Madrid’s Retiro Park on
sunny days. Always, we went without makeup. Unshowered. Hair in
messy ponytails. Mismatched, though admittedly snug, running shorts.
Not exactly the most glamorous of looks, but from the cat calls given
to us by male passersby, you’d have thought we were Halle Berry and
Julia Roberts on Oscar night.
Back in the States, men seem to be equally bowled over by female
joggers and, in general, get googly eyed around exercising women. Of
course, when women work out, our cheeks are flushed, our lips are moist
and we’re panting. Plus, everything female and pretty on our bodies
bounces around. Doesn’t take a Freudian scholar to figure out the
fantasies the sight might stir in the male mind. Maybe we’re running
slo-mo in guys’ heads as they imagine us like Pamela Anderson, Baywatching across a Malibu beach rather than hoofing it on a Bally’s treadmill.
The other day, I went to pick up my one exorbitantly priced beauty
expense: a $35 bottle of shampoo. In my world, this is costly but I
know there are legions of women who would spend three times that just
for the bottled water with which they wash their overly pampered manes.
Anyway, I hadn’t done much to pretty myself up that afternoon. My
face was naked save for a line of lip gloss, my hair was in a tight,
somewhat fuzzy bun, and I was wearing a bland T-shirt over a boring ol’
pair of leggings. Still, I got checked out more than I had the
previous night painting the town red. Two men asked for my number. By
the time I got to the store and held that $35 bottle of shampoo, I
couldn’t help but ask, “Why in God’s name am I spending this money?”
An article I read said women spend $13,000 on makeup alone in their
lifetime. Imagine the green we’re spending on haircuts, bikini waxes
and, Lord help us, clothes. Used to be all the luxury makeup and
beauty products were for rich, old gals, the rest of us went to CVS.
Nowadays, entire cosmetic lines and boutique shops have opened up to
sell us $50 eye shadow kits and $120 moisturizing cream. Lots of gals
feel they can no longer get away with lip gloss and a cute haircut;
they gotta get their eyebrows sculpted, teeth bleached, foreheads
Botoxed, biceps and thighs yoga’ed into oblivion. The American
cosmetics industry makes over $20 billion a year, while beauty salons
alone gross $72 billion of our hard-earned cash. And for what, if
dudes can just as easily drool over us doing downward facing dog?
Still, there are two dazzling conclusions to be drawn from this
discovery. First, maybe we don’t need to spend the money and time to
look like we’re walking the red carpet with Halle and Julia when we’re
living normal lives. Men want us to look good, but they seem to like
us just as much when we look real.