We know how effective media is in shaping our perspective and even our values, including our self-image. We know that being bombarded with images of beautiful men and women molds our vision of attractiveness. As we mature, we know it’s fantasy, and that even Hollywood beauties don’t look that stunning without professional hair, make-up, wardrobe and lighting.
By now, you’ve probably seen the Dove video called “Evolution.” It shows how an attractive woman morphs into a fabulous knockout through professional hair, make-up, lighting, and yes, even Photoshop.
How do these unrealistic images affect your dating life?
1. They can influence your expectation of a man’s looks. Very few men, especially middle-aged men, look anything close to George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp, Colin Firth or Pearce Bronson. While we realize these men personify an unattainable ideal, some small part of many women want – and perhaps expect – their guys to look as yummy.
2. The Photoshopped images of pencil-thin people on magazine covers and in movies exacerbates women’s feelings of inadequacy. Actresses like Cher, Teri Hatcher, Vanessa Williams, Julia Roberts, Helen Mirren, Glenn Close and Ellen Barkin are sparkling in their perfection — with personal trainers, private chefs, and perhaps a bit of nip-tuck. How many real-life middle-aged women do you see looking like that? Just as women have unrealistic expectations of a man’s looks, so, too, men have an idealized expectation that women should look like these air-brushed fantasy females.
So it seems like a lose-lose for both genders.
We think (hope?) that as one matures, people realize that these movie star looks are really just fantasy. But unfortunately, I’ve found both men and women hold themselves and their potential dates to standards that nearly no one meets in real life.
So what can you do?
1. Play up your own physical attributes: Got beautiful eyes? Don’t hide them behind glasses. Get a makeover if you haven’t had one in years, or make an appointment with a free personal shopper at a department store to help you dress to look your best.
2. Realize that there are many good people underneath a few bags, sags and extra pounds: While we know that goodness has nothing to do with outer appearances, we sometimes get caught up or put off by what we see. I’ve gone out with many wonderful men who aren’t gorgeous. The thing is, they got more attractive as I got to know their kind hearts, senses of humor and caring natures.
Dating Goddess is the author of the 13-book Adventures in Delicious Dating After 40 series