I’m about to go off on a rant here, so fasten your seat belts and extinguish all smoking materials (aside from my ears) …
I was provoked by an article I saw on the Internet about (of all things) the new Chinese version of the internationally copied TV show “Ugly Betty.” (You can read the story here.) The original program, “Yo Soy Betty,” came out of Colombia, then a new version (“Betty la Fea” — literally “Betty the Ugly”) became a huge hit in Mexico, and now there are knockoffs in the U.S., Germany, Russia, India and beginning a few months ago, the People’s Republic of China.
But they’ve run into a weensy problem with the Chinese version: the actress playing the main character, “Ugly Wudi,” is being criticized because she’s too attractive. (And she is rater fetching — see the picture accompanying the article.) That wasn’t what bothered me — why should I care what she looks like? What bothered me was this paragraph in the article (italics mine):
Though the actress wears black-framed glasses and ill-fitting braces like the other Betty, her image was largely dismissed by the audience because she is not ugly enough, Oriental Morning Post reported.
Wait, wait, wait … what was that about glasses making someone ugly?!?
You know, I’d really like to find the person who decided that wearing eyeglasses makes a woman less attractive, and beat him down with a pair of Bausch & Lombs. But there is that supposition in Western culture, isn’t there? Think of all the movies you’ve seen where some woman is wearing glasses and nobody notices her … until she whips off the specs and suddenly the male lead’s jaw drops. The ’90s version of “Sabrina” is the ultimate example in my mind: Sabrina’s just this mousy, bespectacled wallflower, then she leaves for a few years, gets a makeover, switches to contacts, comes back and suddenly she’s Julia Ormond. (The male equivalent, I suppose, is Superman, who with his specs on can pass for being a bumbling dweeb at the local newspaper even though he has muscles the size of Priuses.)
But I remember watching “Sabrina” shortly after it came out on video. And one of the things I noticed was that Julia Ormond with the long hair, the frumpy dresses — and the glasses — looked pretty darn good too. You know why? Because SHE WAS JULIA FREAKING ORMOND, that’s why! If the Taliban had taken over Britain and forced her to wear one of those sack-dresses that covers everything but your eyes, she still would have caused heads to turn. Why? Because she’s Julia Ormond! No pair of glasses is going to hide that from you, unless you’re too dumb to see past that little piece of hardware to the person behind it. And if you are, then I’m sorry, but then IMNVHO, you’re also too dumb to operate a computer and you shouldn’t be reading this blog.
Okay, for everyone else, let me tell you a secret. Some guys (and maybe some women too, I dunno) find glasses sexy. And I’m one of them.
This shouldn’t be that much of a surprise; after all, I wear glasses — really thick ones. (And my next pair will likely be even thicker — I’m starting to have trouble with fine print.) Both my parents wear glasses, as did at least two of my grandparents. And I am of the opinion that an attractive woman is just that much more attractive if she’s sporting a pair of frames.
I know I’m not the only one — why else would it be that so many men marry women who rock the specs? They can’t all be doing it despite the eyeglasses, can they? How else do you explain that every time one of those “men’s magazines” (Maxim, FHM, etc.) come out with their “100 sexiest women” lists, Tina Fey — an unrepentant member of the four-eyes faction — always makes the list? Or that America Ferrara is a regular on these lists as well? (Not familiar with the name? She’s the star of that U.S. TV show … “Ugly Betty”! Guess she’s not so ugly after all, huh?) If men considered glasses so hideous, these things wouldn’t be happening. I guarantee you, there’s a bunch of us — a minority, perhaps, but a substantial one — who are either neutral on the eyeglass issue or actually like them. But you’d never know that by watching the mass media.
Of course, there are a lot of things the mass media feeds us about human beauty that just doesn’t stand up to minimal scrutiny. If you believed the majority of what American TV and movies holds up to us as the ne plus ultra of female attractiveness, you’d think every guy wanted a woman who:
- was blond
- was tall
- had large breasts
- had a small waist
- had a small nose
- dresses skimpily
And then suddenly you have Danica Patrick, the race car driver, who’s about five-foot-nothing, with dark hair, small breasts and usually dresses in a full-body suit because, duh, she’s a race car driver! And she’s one of the hotter new sex symbols. (She does have a small nose, though.) The actress Camryn Manheim (you may remember her from “The Practice”) has a legion of adoring male fans even though she’s not only not a size 2, I doubt she’s a size 22. As far as the nose issue, hunt down a picture of Meryl Streep from the ’70s or ’80s, ski slope of a schnozz and all, and tell me she was ugly. (Heck, she turns 60 this June, and she’s still pretty decent-looking at all those award shows.) I could cite a hundred more examples, but you get the idea. Nothing requires us to believe what they say.
Okay, I’ll give you one more example. She does meet two of the six criteria above — tall, small waist — but not the other four. Her hair is reddish-brown. She wears an A-cup bra (when she needs to wear one at all). Her nose is a little above average size and kind of pointed — closer to Streep than to Marisa Tomei. And I only know of only one time in the last decade where she wore a dress that even showed her knees; she is by and large a very conservative dresser. Oh, and to top it all off, her teeth are a little crooked. And she has a funny walk. And yes, she wears glasses.
Unattractive? Ugly? In a word, no. Try hot. Try sexy. Try the love of my life and the mother of my children. That’s right, I just described the Supermodel. So don’t expect me to buy that anything in the above paragraph is anything but beautiful. Maybe it’s not to you, but it sure is to me … and by some of the looks she was getting a few weeks ago on our trip to Vegas, not just me, either.
And I like her glasses just fine. So there.