Remember all the unwanted attention you got when you were younger, perhaps curvier? Remember how much you wished people would just stop with the attention and even compliments?
Yeah, I don’t remember it either.
In fact, I’ve always been short of attention when it comes to the opposite sex. I’ve never felt satisfied with my 5’3″ (on a good day) stature, my brown hair, and brown eyes. Let’s face it. That’s generally not the stuff dreams are made of. When I was younger, I dreamed of attending the Barbizon Modeling School (Be a Model or just look like one!) and for fun, I’d call their 800 number from my friend’s house and tell them my name was Molly (I didn’t appreciate my name either). Molly was 5’7″, had long blond hair, and green eyes. Now that was someone that was model material!
And I know this sounds simply like I had a bad case of low self-esteem. I’ll readily admit to that. I had no boyfriend in high school. No date to the prom. And I even had classmates asking me if I was a lesbian (as if that was a crime) because I never dated anyone. I’d smile painfully as if it didn’t bother me and simply respond saying, “Nope. Just nobody ever asks me out on a date.”
But even the media way back then acknowledged that women that didn’t meet a certain standard were less than beautiful.
When the notion of colored contact lenses was introduced, DuraSoft had a commercial with a voiceover talking about a woman’s lips as red as apples, hair as golden as the sun, and eyes as brown as BARK. In case you can’t tell, there was a negative emphasis on that word bark. Obviously, to be beautiful, we needed to change our eye color too. And don’t think I didn’t want to.
Every woman has a unique experience growing up, much of it, I would guess, influenced by their parents and their adolescent experiences. For me, I focused on being smart, not beautiful, because I felt that was something that was more within my control. But I always wished that I was the one turning away the boys lined up at my door.
Be careful what you wish for, I guess. No one really likes unwanted attention but at what point does it become harassment?
Let’s look at one woman’s experience over 10 hours in New York City. If you’ve seen it already, feel free to skip ahead. But if you haven’t, it’s an “undercover” video showing a day in the life of a woman walking through the streets of NYC and what she has to face under the guise of street harassment. In fact, the video is meant to raise awareness about this issue for a nonprofit organization. And at 15,249,371 views (as of this morning), I’d say mission accomplished.
Would I get creeped out at the man walking casually and silently beside me for 5 minutes? You bet. Would I want someone commenting on the label on my ass? Not really. But what I saw were greetings and salutations, in most cases to attract her attention to most likely buy something. They do this in the markets of China, the Bahamas, Mexico, really any place someone is pushing their wares. And what should they have said instead? HEY LADY? I’m more inclined to stop if someone calls me beautiful.
So next time you happen to see me walking down the streets of NYC, feel free to say “Hello Beautiful” or “Have a good evening, Darling” because more than likely, it will make me smile just a little bit as I keep walking on.