25 September 2012

Have You Gotten Any Crazy Advice About Your Appearance?

What is Love?

It seems some people in marriages or while dating somehow focus a lot of attention on looks.  And sometimes people actually seem obsessed with trying to change your look...(yikes!)

I've had a bit of experience with this - on all ends of the spectrum.  And, I must say that if someone is trying to actually change your appearance or is disturbed/uncomfortable/showing anxiety because of your appearance, there is likely something deeper going on - likely issues that could use some professional attention, if the person is willing.  (Note:  there is a big difference between a partner having opinions about which shirt looks best on you VS. being deeply disturbed and wanting you to change things in order to ease their anxiety or to be proud to be with you, etc.)  And if you're single, I'd say if you're with a person who is obsessed with changing your appearance, it's one big, big, red flag that, in my opinion, is certainly big enough to call a relationship quits.  (If you're in that situation, I'll be honest, I kind of want to beg you to RUN, my friend.  RUN as fast as you can!  :)  :)

I was once in a situation where someone often voiced requests for me to change some things about my appearance...things that made him deeply uncomfortable.  Unfortunately, they weren't even things I could change.  Yikes.  Oh my - that was not a fun experience and it took me many years to realize how very unhealthy that kind of behavior was and that there actually wasn't anything wrong with my appearance.  Luckily I gained a lot of wisdom from living through that, and came out on the other side a more confident woman.

What is Love?

When I was single and dating in New York, I mostly met some really great guys.  But I somehow came across (3) guys that had some downright crazy requests regarding my appearance...



-One guy flew in from out of state to date me for a couple of days and he said, "Maybe we can go to the pharmacy and get some hair dye.  I think you'd look so much better with dark brown hair." 
Uggghhhh....drastically changing my hair color in my bathroom sink while some guy I barely even know directs the whole thing or waits in my hallway?  haha.  Are you serious?  No thanks.  What made this especially alarming was his level of concern and level of discomfort with my blondish hair.  It was like he was antsy over it.  It really bothered him.  There were many, many similar comments like that from him that weekend involving changes I should make about myself - things that he was uncomfortable with.  (p.s. Just prior to his arrival, I had just gotten my hair done from one of the best hair colorists in the country as a hair model.  Poor guy didn't know good hair when he saw it.)

-One guy was very concerned about a top I was going to wear to church.  He thought it seemed immodest and actually asked me if I was really going to wear that top to church and when I said yes and acted confused, he requested that I change my top.  (???)  I'm all for modesty but oh my -  you guys, the shirt had sleeves and a high neck and couldn't have been more modest.  I like to think that I just looked too good in it :)  He was the same one who also paid attention to every bite I ate and then at the end of a meal, asked in a shocked tone as I was going in for my last bit of my sandwich, "So, you're actually going to finish that??  Don't you watch what you eat?" (?!?!??!)  I'm getting the skeeves just thinking about all that patroling. 

-One guy was very, very uncomfortable with me making a fashion statement.  (Trust me, in New York I'm not anywhere near making a fashion statement around here. haha :)  But one summer I was keen on wearing a colorful flower pinned to my clothes or in my hair.  But this guy I met actually wanted to have some very serious, not casual, talks about it....he thought the flower made too much of a " fashion statement", that it sent the wrong message, and brought too much attention.  He was uncomfortable with anything that brought too much attention and requested that I no longer wear flowers as accessories. (?????)  Again, this wasn't just a mild request.  This issue made him deeply uncomfortable.  Heaven forbid that I dyed my hair pink or something.  :)

What is Love?
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Luckily, by then I was certain that a man who was going to be nit picky about me or my appearance was not for me.  Guys with style and even guys with opinions can be helpful and wonderful, but I had very much had enough of guys that were being disturbed by things that didn't really matter.  Oh my, I had had enough of that.  :)  :)  :)

Then I met Danny (my husband).  This man believes in uplifting people around him.  He appreciates people for their real beauty, not their appearance.  His love for me has NOTHING, nothing, nothing to do with my appearance.  I'm telling you, it's the most refreshing thing in the world.  He loves it when I look good, but he doesn't care a bit if I'm not totally put together.  He has never ONCE made me feel uncomfortable about my appearance.  Only the opposite.  And - it's not like he doesn't have opinions about things or have feedback or advice about style (he actually has a really great eye for things and loves helping me pick out things.)  He doesn't love everything I wear....but he realizes that looks don't matter, size doesn't matter - it's all about character for him.  We both know that every time one of us says, "Does this shirt look OK?"  "What do you think of these jeans?"  That it's just a shirt.  It's just a pair of jeans. 

So, if someone is giving you advice or feedback about your appearance, learn to recognize the C-R-A-Z-Y (and I mean that quite literally) from the constructive/helpful.  They are two very, very different things.  Do not assume that if someone is obsessed and critical of your appearance that this is normal.  If any of that crap is coming your way - - try, try, try to step out of the situation and realize that this person is not well.  These people are way too focused on things that don't matter.  Also, on the other hand, when a loving partner is offering you some constructive/helpful advice, hopefully you can be in a good place yourself to receive the feedback and feel lucky you have someone you trust and love who can give you second opinions.

Now for your turn!  Have you had anyone send you some crazy requests regarding your appearance?  Also, has it been hard for you to decipher the crazy from the constructive feedback?  Obviously, this was a hard one for me to grasp for a long time.



(Photo image sources: 1. Emily Africaa  2. oystermag  3. Joanna Goddard

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53 comments:

  1. I once had a guy try to make me promise him that I would work out every day, and THEN he would date me. Little did he know that with that kind of attitude, I had intention of dating him. What he really meant by this statement of course was that I did not meet his expectation of beauty or thinness. While I am a little overweight by most people's standards, I'm actually very healthy and do work out often.
    This was the same guy by the way, that when I said "well thank you but I'm not interested" replied to me "just as well - you don't look like you would be submissive enough for me!!" yikes!! isn't a healthy, loving relationship about a two-way exchange of ideas and opinions and feelings?

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  2. Thank you for writing about this topic, Mara! I bet it's one that a lot of women have experience with and I'm sure we can all share stories.

    My first long-term boyfriend was great at first, and seemed to think I looked great no matter what. And then he started requesting that I dress differently... He didn't want me to wear shorts or skirts in front of any guy but him, and he wanted me to wear long sleeves in front of guys as well. I'm embarrassed to say I went along with it for a few months, and then he went the other way. He started complaining that I didn't dress "sexy" enough and wanted me to wear things I would NEVER feel comfortable in.

    My next boyfriend had lots to say about my body. At first, he thought I was beautiful, and then slowly, comments trickled in. He'd criticize what I ate, my portion size, etc. He said it was because he was concerned for my health and while that may have been true, it crossed a line when I'd find myself crying because of his comments. This was a situation where I definitely had a hard time figuring out whether or not his feedback was constructive or crazy!

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    1. Amanda:
      I had the same experience with my first boyfriend. We were in a long-distance relationship, and he was big on the no-skirts-infront-of-any-guys thing. I was given a beautiful new skirt from my grandma and only wore it a few times because of him. He was literally controlling my wardrobe from two hours away, which is humiliating for me to admit, as well. I'm so thankful that I learned that lesson, though, because I will never let a man (or anyone else for that matter) control what I wear again-- I'm sure you have found the same empowerment from your experience!

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    2. Amanda/Emily: You two are awesome. I'm so glad you guys were able to figure out what was going on. And thanks for being brave and sharing. I am just loving the comments today and I think they will be so helpful for other women who could be in some bad situations.

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  3. i think i have been quite lucky that i have never really experienced any of this but then i did marry the man i met at eighteen so i didn't have lots of boyfriend exeperience.

    i never had any comments on my style or look but one boyfriend did commnet that he thought i spent to much money on clothes and that i should cut back. that was when i was at uni and i can say he was gone within a couple of days, i still don't understand what right he felt he had telling me how to spend my money.

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  4. I think if YOU look good in something, go for it. The confidence is what's important, and you don't need anyone undermining your confidence. My husband told me this morning he didn't like my shirt as I was ready to walk out the door to go to work. I pointed out (kindly) that it's a perfectly nice shirt (ok, maybe plaid isn't his favorite), and I'm sure I'll get lots of compliments at work! I look cute, thank you very much!!!

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  5. This is somewhat related, but I think men can become somewhat conditioned that women are never just asking a simple question. I've been married seven years, and my husband still gets nervous to respond when I ask him if my outfit looks ok. I always have to reassure him that I actually want to know, and I'm not fishing for compliments! My husband has been so amazing in helping me have a better body image. I try to respect the way he treats me (so lovingly!) with respect by not asking him loaded questions about my looks. It can be easy to sabotage guys with those kinds of questions. This sounds silly and obvious, but this was really difficult for me in the beginning of our relationship, but when he tells me I am beautiful, I just trust that he means it.

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  6. This was good for me to read. My husband has never once requested I change anything about my appearance and he doesn't care if I'm dressed up or dressed waaaay down. I feel so comfortable being myself in his presence. This post caused me to pause and look at myself in this position. I get on my husband about his weight sometimes. He's put on about 20 pounds since we married and he has a family history of high blood pressure/diabetes, so there are health concerns there. I also comment, though, on the weight when I tell him that certain items don't really flatter him--but it's not because he asked that I share that. I just offer it. I also prefer him with longer hair than shorter hair...I think this is something that I need to work on and take a look at. Thanks for this post, Mara.

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  7. This doesn't have much to do with the topic at hand, but I thought it was funny. I was recently introduced to your blog, and I loved it, so I sent the link to my mom thinking she would too. Turns out she had already seen it since the beginning because she's Laurie's best friend who apparently is Danny's sister. (My dad was also Aaron's roommate in college). Also turns out Danny used to work for my dad, Rich! What a small world?

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  8. I love this topic too! And you are so right about there being a fine line between constructive criticism and controlling behavior. My boyfriend does not (and probably will never) understand the belt fashion trend. Why do I need to pair a belt with leggings and a button down top, he wonders constantly, and why do I have belts in so many different colors? (I have a small obsession with belts.) But although he may not appreciate this fashion, he would never, in a million years, tell me not to wear something. He offers advice sometimes, and I ask for it often, but unless I was about to walk out of the house truly looking ridiculous (like wearing a ball gown out for drinks with friends) - he'd never ask me to change or tell me I shouldn't be wearing something.

    This is so important and I'm so glad you're taking the time to address it! xoxo, Sara

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  9. Wow. Definitely a good topic to bring up, Mara! Sad but true...these things happen!

    I've never had it happen to me, thankfully, but the guy my mom dated before she met my dad was CRAZY like that. He sounds like your guy #2 - he once said to my mom when they were eating at a hamburger restaurant that he "would make his wife sign a contract that she wouldn't weigh over 115 pounds during their marriage" (my mom was 130 pounds at the time!) and he actually took a piece of hamburger out of her mouth!!! Playfully of course but obviously this was a deal-breaker. (I'm so happy she met my dad after that jerk!)

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  10. After I married my first husband, he started telling me I should do this or that -- acrylic nails, different hairstyle, trendier clothes, etc -- he didn't make those "suggestions" while we were dating. At the time, I truly took it as constructive. I do not have much sense for style, I prefer classically stylish clothes as opposed to trendy, and I prefer simplicity, but I am willing to try new things. Some things I would just say "no, that's not me", but some things I would try -- sometimes I ended up liking it, sometimes I did not. About 5 years later, when I was pregnant with our second baby, I attended an event at my husbands work. When he came home later that day, he said "One of the guys at work commented on how much weight you have gained, but then he said 'oh yeah, she's pregnant'." This was the moment it finally dawned on me that his "suggestions" were not constructive and that he didn't care about my feelings as much as he cared about my appearance. 3 years after that we were divorced. Now I am remarried to a wonderful man who loves me just the way I am and I feel beautiful no matter what I am wearing! This is truly sage advice.

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  11. Mara--

    Great post. And I totally agree with what you said in regards to people who try to radically, or in my case subtlety alter your appearance. I once dated a guy so subtly manipulative that I didn't even realize until well after we stopped dating that my sudden and random interest in breast implants was neither sudden nor random... I dodged a bullet there.

    However, for sake of being a devil's advocate can I also suggest that the other extreme of "not caring at ALL what each other looks like" is a little bit of a stretch as well? Don't you think physical attraction has something to do with it? I feel totally comfortable in pj's, messy hair and no make up in front of my husband but I think we both appreciate the effort sometimes given to make ourselves look extra special or to wear a good outfit. I don't obsess over my husbands looks or clothes, but I certainly give suggestions, help him shop etc. It DOES help me feel more positively toward him...and vice versa.

    If I'm being honest, as much as I love this blog and many, many posts about how you became more positive and self assured and happy, I sometimes feel that your marriage is always presented as PERFECT and FLAWLESS ...and therefore unattainable. I know you want to help people feel empowered and to feel better about themselves or at least that they have the tools to improve ... but sometimes I just walk away feeling like I'm a failure. And yes I realize that probably stems from my insecurities, but I can't help but think that sometime of your posts are not hitting the mark you're hoping to hit. Perhaps it's only me, but I just thought I'd throw it out there. That just sorta came out... I wasn't planning on leaving that comment, but there it is. I really do love your blog and read it all the time.

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    1. I too am a loyal reader, and appreciate you and Danny's wisdom so much. But I think I see the point that Anon above is making. I feel like comments like "I had just gotten my hair done from one of the best hair colorists in the country" and "I like to think that I just looked too good in it" undermine your general message, that Danny loves you regardless of your being thin/attractive/stylish. It almost seems as if your focus on beauty and fashion contradict your message that appearance doesn't matter.

      Anyway, I'm glad you wrote this post regardless, I think it is an important point!

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    2. Anon - thanks so much for writing in. I actually worry about this sometimes - posting about things that seem too good to be true (trust me, they seem too good to be true to me, as well) - the last thing I want to do is make someone feel badly. But I have decided to still post about our marriage because it is the FRUIT of all of the messages we share on the blog. We really do live the way of life we write about - and it works!!! So I guess our motive is just to help people to see the potential and to know that the stuff we write isn't just fluff.....it IS attainable. It really does translate into a happier life if you really do embody it. We just happen to be two people dedicated to this effort - and perhaps it's more rare to have two people on board. And so our outcome may be different than another's. But we know firsthand that our message can still change someone's life, even if their partner isn't committed to this. We've been through many phases of life, and we know this message made a difference at each one. Each person's success will look different.
      Also - our lives are not perfect and flawless -not at all. But we have learned to be at peace w/ the things that aren't perfect (i.e. infertility and everything else) - and the result is we really do live with more joy.

      As for the bit about attraction - I guess love and attraction are two different things. We certainly love it when the other is dressed up and looking great - and we do that often enough. But when that is not the case, we don't withhold any love or positive feelings towards each other. Danny wants to write a post about this! Stay tuned! :)

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    3. Mara--

      Thanks for your response... always the picture of class. I appreciate that.

      I agree with what you wrote, you shouldn't 'dumb down' your marriage and what you and Danny have. I DO think it's wonderful and I DO think it's something special. And it's from this vantage point that you two are indeed in a position to help others. Again, being totally honest, I'm probably a bit jealous. So, lets just get that out there. On the other hand, I don't think this jealously is what's sometimes leaving me feeling like that post didn't help, or even that post seems to be rubbing it in a little. (Not that you do that intentionally...I really don't think you do). Here's the thing, the person I probably relate most to on your journey are your ex-spouses. And while you never out right demonize them, you're certainly quick to point out the "if you're dating this kind of person RUN" mentality. And many people seem to share similar stories of these horrible ex-spouses and girl/boyfriends and how they got away from these horrible people. But these "crazy" horrible people are probably who need your help the most. For some reason, I struggle feeling love and contentment in my marriage...but I'm not a horrible, monster of a person. I would love to know how someone like me, someone like your former spouse, could apply these lessons. Perhaps it's obvious from your posts, but it's not to me. Personally, I think it's easy to apply these principles in the company of another spouse who so freely gives them back....do you think you could have been this happy in your former marriage had your spouse not left you? What could he have done to become more Danny/Mara like? These are sincere questions.

      When I was younger I remember hearing quite often at church that when you're looking for a spouse pay close attention to their family...you want to marry someone who comes from a good family. And as I sat there, knowing that my family was not one of those "good families" it made me angry. I was essentially hearing that I was not worthy of love and that anyone who did choose to marry me was making a bad choice. I guess in someways when I hear you write about these people with their problems ranging from being too concerned with how you dress, to not knowing how to properly express love, your advice seems to always be to RUN from those terrible people, they are unworthy of your love. I'm not suggesting that people stay in abusive relationships, but there are those of us "damaged" people looking for more help and hope and sometimes your posts about your perfect (second) marriage don't seem to be helpful in the way I'm hoping or needing.

      Anyway, just a thought and something to think about for future posts. Surely I can't be alone. I really do appreciate your messages of love. This is a great blog and it's doing wonderful things for many people.

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    4. --LONG COMMENT ALERT! I struggle with being succinct, so am posting this in multiple entries.--

      Anon, I so appreciate your comments. While I don't exactly feel the same way as you, I can definitely see where you are coming from. I hadn't previously thought of some of your perspectives, such as your experience at church as a youngster and the "good families," but it makes so, so much sense.

      Other words of yours really struck a chord with me, though, such as that some of these "damaged" people really need our help the most and we shouldn't always just set the default to "run." I am married to a wonderful man who, if I am being completely honest, can probably be considered one of those "damaged" individuals. I will say that due to this, our first couple years of marriage WERE NOT EASY (okay, they were hellish), and I was in a seriously dark place as a result. Multiple times I had people telling me to run (including my therapist!). However, as a result of putting into practice many of the tenets that Danny and Mara so eloquently preach that I had come to discover on my own prior to finding this blog, I have come to a place where I can honestly and without reservation say that our marriage is now healthy, and my sweet husband is getting healthier and healthier emotionally too (as am I!). We are by no means perfect, that is for sure, and we still have our problems, our tiffs, our grumblings, but I feel confident in our relationship and can finally (and with relief!) say that I no longer worry constantly about whether or not we will make it. I am not trying to toot my own horn here because I certainly played a role in the previous dysfunction, but when I first started trying to behave in some of the ways talked about on this blog (mostly in CHOOSING happiness - I could write a novel on my conviction of that principle), it was for sure one-sided in our relationship. My husband was not interested in therapy, was not interested in really bending, and okay, let's call a spade a spade - he was kind of a turd. (Don't worry, these are all things he and I have since discussed so I'm not totally throwing him under the bus here. :)) Anyway, it started out as JUST me making the changes and after a little while a magical thing started to occur - HE started to change too! Without us discussing it! Without him even knowing I was consciously choosing to alter my reactions to things! It really was a magical and beautiful blessing.

      I want to reiterate that while things are remarkably better and I am very much at peace and happy with him, our marriage is still not to the "Danny and Mara level". And that's okay. I think I understand what you mean about it seeming "too perfect" and therefore unattainable, but I just choose to look at the wonderful aspects of MY relationship that are unique to us, and look forward with hope that someday my sweet husband and I will also reach a level of complete love and transformation that Danny and Mara seem to have experienced. I am sure they, too, will continue to grow and improve and also have their challenges - they likely just choose to address their challenges privately.

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    5. (continuing...)

      This blog has been such a wonderful reiteration of the things that I had learned to be true for my life, and I truly appreciate the additional perspectives offered here by all - including yours. The opportunity for discourse on hard things is also something to be cherished, so thank you again - truly - for taking the time to weigh in and for offering a different perspective that may have been scary to post here as it could feel like it was at risk for being unpopular to say here. But I think you did it in just the perfect way - you were well spoken, admitted openly where your potential failings could influence your view, and came across as truly genuine, truly desiring to contribute and, as discussed in this post, constructively criticize rather than attack. You say you are "damaged," but from the way you posed your views here you don't seem to be any more damaged than any of the rest of us. Because trust me, I think we are all damaged in one way or another - just some of our damage is more concealed than others'. You actually seem to be coming from an open, honest place with a desire for change and I think that's for sure a healthy place to start.

      Holy moly, I am rambling (if you knew me that would be noooo surprise!), but I really can't express enough thanks to and admiration for your words. I do want to add, though, that if you are a spiritual person, or at least open to trying it and aren't/haven't already, I would strongly encourage a deep reliance on the Divine to help answer your questions and guide you through your quest for help. As I mentioned, many of things that transformed my marriage started BEFORE this blog, and they were things that I came to realize through inspiration from my loving Savior. I truly COULD NOT HAVE MADE IT through those difficult first years of marriage without Him and if it hadn't been for His guiding hand, I for sure would have "run" too. That doesn't mean it was easy, and that doesn't mean I always realized at the time that it was God helping me (because I didn't), but now in retrospect I can see how much I was guided even though I thought I was alone. He loves you just as much as He loves me, and I know he will help you in your desire to change just like He did me.

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    6. Thank you Anon for adding your voice to the discussion. It has given Mara and I a great deal to think about. And I really do appreciate the tone that you wrote both your original comment and your reply. Like Heather said, I think that says a lot about you and the personal development you are seeking. You raise very valid comments that Mara and I have been talking and thinking about all day. I hope that we can appropriately respond to and elaborate on some of the points you brought up.

      But if we can't...well then thank you Heather, for your long-winded and yet totally appropriate and awesome response. You said a lot of things I would have liked to have said, and managed to say it in fewer words than I ever would have been capable of (ask any of the readers who've received an email back from me....talk about long winded).

      I love the thoughtfulness displayed by you both, and by everyone here for that matter. Thank you, thank you, thank you Anon for having the courage to express concerns with what was written, but also doing so in a way that invites conversation and dialogue. And Heather, thanks for responding in similar manners and seeking to uplift others by sharing your story. Perhaps you'd like to write a post about your experience some time?

      I'm going to get back to gathering some thoughts that I hope can address some of the concerns raised. Just wanted to show my appreciation for what you both have written.

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    7. I think what some people may be struggling with is...what do you do if your partner is not as willing as you are to put 1000% into a marriage? I know many friends who have wanted the same things that you and Danny have (who doesn't?), but through no fault of their own, do end up feeling resentment and discouraged...even potentially facing divorce. When two people are as willing and enlightened as you and Danny...it's much eaiser, but convincing someone else, is not.
      I'm wondering too...would either of you left your spouses on your own, even if underneath it all, you were unhappy too? Would you have been feeling as happy and at peace as you do now? Even if you yourself were truly happy? Is it possible to be so happy if your happiness is chipped away at on a daily basis? Just some thoughts...

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  12. I'm glad you posted the last paragraph about being willing to accept helpful/constructive criticism as well. My husband and I dated 6 years before we were married, with a 3 year break then got back together. Over the "break" period, I had gained almost 40 (!!) pounds. I knew he still loved me when we got back together but he did have a serious talk with me about what my views were on having a healthy body. I had to admit I had been treating my body poorly and it hurt kind of to hear someone else tell me that. But he was right, I wanted to change that thing about myself anyway and he gave me a little motivation. Needless to say I lost 35 pounds that summer and have kept it off since! (minus the pregnancy part) He has never mentioned it since and just wants me to feel healthy. I know he loves me however I look, and does not expect perfection, he just wanted to make sure being active was a priority in my life before we got married. Sometimes constructive criticism can hurt, but sometimes they are right.

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  13. Great blog, I love reading all this information!

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  14. I think for me the problem is probably the opposite. I am sometimes critical of the way my husband dresses. Sometimes I feel like what he chooses to wear looks bad together or isn't appropriate for the occasion... and I'm probably not very tactful about telling him so. I hate that I care about what he wears when we go out because I love him regardless. I don't have a great fashion sense but I know that camo pants and striped shirts should NOT be worn together haha. Do I just keep my mouth shut?

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  15. As I was reading this, I thought, Wow! I'm glad that never happened to me! Then I started thinking about previous boyfriends, and it totally did happen to me. I just didn't realize it at the time. One of my ex-boyfriends would be embarrassed of my style. He loved my looks - my face, my big butt, whatever - but he didn't like the way I dressed. Not trendy enough for him. My style changed while I dated him. After we broke up I felt like myself again. It's crazy how manipulative people can be, even when we don't notice. "Love" is an easy thing to be blinded by. I think it's really important to love yourself first and keep a watchful eye - even when you've got rose-colored glasses on! Thanks for this post.

    Oh - also. My husband and I do try to be well-dressed around each other. It makes us feel good, and we like when the other person looks put together. This doesn't matter - and we don't care when we dress down - but it makes us feel good and confident and sexy. My sister once told me that how you are dressed is how you feel about the situation. I've always thought about it since then. I try to get dressed, no matter how crappy I feel (save like 6 weeks after having a baby... that's a whole different ballgame!!). Because I feel good when I get myself dressed and put together! Anyway, thanks. :)

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  16. So, If I ask my girl friend to grow her hair long because I think it's nice, does that sound 'crazy'?

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    1. If you are deeply disturbed by her current hair and very much want her to change it in order for you to be proud to be with her and perhaps even treat her differently because of her current hair - or put pressure on her to change it even if she doesn't want to.....yep...that's crazy. If you just like long hair, that's not crazy. :) I think suggestions about appearance can be done with love and kindness. If you wanted to suggest something, just make sure she fully knows that you love her either way - that it doesn't really matter in the end, but that it might be fun to try long hair! If she's not into it - just try to forget about the hair and focus on what you do love about her...lots of compliments about those things will go a long way in helping her to feel like a million bucks :)

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  17. I totally understand what you are saying, I just wanted to list two examples I have seen.

    I dated a boy in college who (and I didn't realize it at the time) was still very much enamored with the girlfriend who waited (or rather...didn't) for him on his mission. She was married when he got home and I found that my style of dressing, my hair, my taste in music, and the list goes on all drastically changed. I ran into her on-campus one day and realized...he was very much making me into her. We had the same haircut and everything. Story short, I DID NOT NEED THIS.

    I do dress my husband though and I have no problem with it (in my honest opinion, HE NEEDED THIS). You and your husband both have excellent style, but my husband was such a sloppy dresser. He struggled so much dating even though he is both attractive and has a wonderful personality and I believe it is because how he showed up on these dates (he showed up with a t-shirt with holes in it from high school for our first date). The way he dressed himself (or perhaps, didn't) made people notice his clothes more than him in a way that was not positive.

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  18. Mara,
    I found this to be a very curious topic. What inspired you to write about it?

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    1. Hi Eve - just trying to help anyone out there who may be experiencing unreasonable/cruel scrutiny regarding their appearance. I experienced this for many years (until I gained some wisdom and learned how to handle the situation) and so I can't help but bring up the topic, in case it might help someone else out there.

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    2. Wow! Thanks for responding so quickly! I myself have not experienced this, though I can see how the dark side of validation from those we care about can be scrutiny that stems from judgment rather than, well, LOVE. :)

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  19. My first serious boyfriend told me after a month or so of dating that he thought I was beautiful, but it had taken him awhile to get used to my nose! (I had never thought there was anything weird about my nose, and I very kindly refrained from telling him that my roommates thought he looked like a Simpsons character.)
    I didn't really notice until after we broke up that there was a pattern to comments like that-- he would put me up on a pedestal with compliment after compliment, and then immediately pull the rug out from under me as if he thought I needed humbling. He also told me once that he thought we should spend the summer getting me in shape. Not getting in shape together... getting ME in shape. Super lame.
    The upside of those experiences is that it helps you recognize and appreciate it when you're with someone who treats you with love and acceptance. I left that relationship knowing lots of things that I DIDN'T want.

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  20. Hi Mara, this is the first time I've commented on your blog, but I read it religiously and love it. Thanks for your honest positive light, I love it!
    I had a guy once tell me what to wear to a date. He first asked what I would be wearing, and when I told him I had no idea, he proceeded to tell me he would be wearing slacks and a sweater, and instructed me to wear a "skirt and nice blouse". So with those marching orders I wore a bright chartreuse skirt and a purple lace top over another colored shirt and some bright tights. Needless to say it was our last date.
    My current squeeze, soon to be husband, has never made any negative comments. Last winter I reached my heaviest weight of my life due to stress at work. He gently encouraged me as I sought to lose weight and was nothing but kind and supportive. I never once felt like he 'expected' me to lose weight, or that it made any difference to how he felt about me. He just wanted me to feel happy and healthy. With that kind of motivation it made it much easier to share with him about my progress and make him a part of my process. He was my best cheerleader!!! And still is.

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  21. Thue guy I dated before I married Kyle was very much into appearance. He and his brothers were huge into weightlifting and he told me if he married me he'd want me to go to the gym every day with him. I danced, and that was my workout, so I wasn't excited when he said that. Although I do enjoy the gym and being fit, him telling me he expected that made me not wanna do it at all!

    So glad I met Kyle when I did. He loves me for me, the imperfect person that I am. He loves it when I don't even wear make-up or get my hair all fixed up, whic is a huge relief to me. I feel comfortable in my skin with him, and it's wonderful. He is the most amazing man I know!

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  22. Great post Mara! It reminded me of this article Ashley Judd wrote a while back, which I loved. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/04/09/ashley-judd-slaps-media-in-the-face-for-speculation-over-her-puffy-appearance.html

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  23. I have never gotten any direct crazy comments about my appearance, but people have made comments here and there.
    Thanks for this post.
    Hope all is well.
    xoxo,
    Sierra
    Oh, Just Living the Dream

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  24. when i just gotten together with my boyfriend (now husband) of 6 years , i went thru a period like that. When we knew each other in college, I wasn't the type of girl to doll up. I was the tshirt/jeans girls with glasses. He was the trendy one and i thought everything didn't matter cos we were into each other. Simple just like that. Months into the relationship, whenever we were out on dates, he will deliberately accompanied me to walk into a feminine/ladylike kinda boutiques and asked me to try on the clothes and pick something to buy. Few more incidents with him pleading, "I beg you to buy that dress/skirt please." caused me great distress. I asked if he had issues with the way I look/dress, he claimed that he believe I can look/dress better.

    So I did a test, I asked a galfriend to dressed me up and switched to contact lenses and of course he was pleasantly surprised with my 'transformation' and became totally tender lovingly sweet to me than when we just gotten together. I was confused & puzzled, does that mean he'd love me lesser if I hadn't put effort to dress up? So what he likes more is how I look like on the outside? Does he prefer push up bras, fake eyelashes more? Even without all of these 'enhancements', will he still love me? I don't know but I sure do love him even though I was saddened by all these thoughts about how he thought of me that I didn't dare to ask.

    After that incident, subconsciously, I became extremely stressed with how to continue to dress/doll up well enough for him. Maybe subconsciously I also wished he could continue with the tender lovingly sweet ways towards me. So in order to be sure he'll do so, I'll have to continue to put up with the 'prettier version of me which I haven't gotten comfortable with' mask/disguise.

    what I wanted to say was it was difficult at first. I didn't want to say whether this change is gd or bad because I'd think to get what I want (his attention) is worth the time & effort to doll up even though I was uncomfortable at first. It took me a while to get used to 'the new me' cos I had to wear outfits I'm not comfortable in. But I agree that looks/appearance doesn't last. We had grown a little chunkier now but the bottomline is, if one doesn't mind a change and it helps in the relationship, why not? Sure, all changes require going out of the comfort zone and it's sure to be uncomfortable in the beginning but sometimes you won't know it until you do it.

    I always thought I look good in glasses until I tried wearing contacts n receive compliments. I thought I'm ok in jeans until I tried shorts/skirts and ppl envy my nice legs. Who knows, maybe Mara would look really good for a brunette? LOL Just saying.

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  25. My ex-husband never really liked my hair. I have coppery colored long, crazy curly, might have just had sex looking hair. If a guy is into me, he's into my hair. It's so much a part of my "look" that I had never dated anyone (much less married) that didn't love it. He would voice it a few times a year when we were dating and then married. I should have taken his dislike for my hair as a sign that it wasn't meant to be!

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  26. I'm reading the comments and I think that the tone is being misunderstood in the post. Mara would & could make anyone feel good about themselves. More importantly, she's sincere about it. So, when she says things like "I had just gotten my hair done from one of the best hair colorists in the country" and "I like to think that I just looked too good in it" - those are things she would say to you if someone was trying to bring you down. It's only fair that she should give herself the same value as she does her friends and readers of this blog. I think the message of the blog (at least the way I see it) isn't about perfectionism in relationships, but rather living the moment and appreciating it. Once you do that, regardless of any emotion, life is just better - not perfect but better.

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    1. Here! Here!! I 100% agree!!!

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    2. I absolutely agree as well!! That was my same thought process as I was reading the blog

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  27. Mara - THANK YOU once again for posting on topics that are right down my alley!
    My wonderful and perfect husband of almost 12 years (hoping to be EX-HUSBAND SOON) has recently told me in the last year that the way I dress reminds him of Mary Poppins and Jane Austen. He told me I would be more attractive if I cut my long hair off, dye it (I already do, but the grey grows faster than I can color- ha!) and wore less clothes and more make-up. He told me I look old, ugly and fat (I am 127 pounds) and he is embarrassed to be seen with me in public.

    So, thank you thank you for touching on this sensitive subject that i don't read about on any other blogs! For
    some time now, I really did think I was the ugly, old, fat version of Mary Poppins! Because of your blog, NOW I know better.

    Sending hugs to you and Danny - You guys ROCK, and I can only pray God sends me a Prince Charming too one day. :)

    ~M

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  28. On a blind date, in the course of conversation, my date kept saying "I don't know if I could date a girl who...(fill in the blank with whatever fact I had just said about myself)."
    I kept wanting to say, "Oh, don't worry, you're not going to date me."
    At the restaurant he said, "don't order the Mole, it's disgusting." I ordered the Mole, and emphatically loved it.
    By the end of the date I realized that he had a list that he was checking off in his head. Yikes!! Thankfully that was the last date I had before meeting my amazing husband.

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  29. While society and most men place ridiculous pressure on women about looks, I think that sometime Mormon women get it even worst from Mormon men - so many weird hangups about how a woman should dress, look, discipline as it supposedly relates to weight, etc.

    Also, I think it helps to bring a LITTLE reality to the situation. Are you being 100% honest that Danny doesn't care about appearances?? That would make him a saint. Even though he supposedly fell in love with you via email, would he really have wanted to date you if you were obese or otherwise generally considered unattractive. Both of your lives have been profoundly shaped by being extremely attractive by our society's standards. I have occupied the world from a size 4 to a 20, and various other factors have changed how attractive I'd generally be considered over my life. Let me tell you that the world (and male attention) are EXTREMELY different at different levels of attractiveness and weight. And attracting a man who TRULY doesn't care about appearances and cares entirely about the inside and one's character is next to impossible.

    I think that sometimes your posts would reach more people more powerfully if you were more aware of the privilege both of you enjoy in our society based on your conventionally good looks and slim bodies.

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    1. Dear Anon, I feel for you. It sounds like you have had some less than pleasurable experiences with the opposite sex. It also sounds like those experiences have been during a time when you may have felt that you were not at your ideal. That's unfortunate. However, I don't think that it's fair to generalize men so much. For example, I don't think it's fair for you to assume that Danny would've been any less of a gentleman if Mara had not been at her ideal when they first met. Danny is a gentleman. On the other hand, there are those that would treat women poorly no matter what they looked like. Take Mara's ex for example. She was the EXACT SAME SIZE when she knew both men. One was a gentleman. One wasn't. I think the point Mara was trying to make, was that you should look for the gentlemen and avoid the self-centered, critical, or unloving. As far as caring about appearances goes, Mara NEVER said that being attractive to one another DIDN'T matter. What she did say, is that you should try not to change the other person, or be critical of them. If you aren't attracted to them, you can simply decide not to date them (if appearance matters that much to you). If you are already married to them, then you can turn love into a verb, and serve them until you get yourself to a healthy place again. True love really does transcend appearances. However, if it doesn't work out, you can still be courteous and kind in the process. There is no need to be critical of one another. Quite frankly, when something like that happens, the person who is doing the criticizing is usually the one that needs to do the self-examining.

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  30. This is my first comment! I really loved this post and it really hits close to home.

    Unfortunately, it is more common than we think that guys are giving this "constructive criticism" (directly or even indirectly, through negative comments about women, vocalizing appreciation for different types of women, commenting on styles and bodies) and that we women are not only appreciative of it, but we are actually changing for it! I think as women we really value what men like and want (why else are we out spending $$ on Cosmo magazine, tanning beds, trendy new clothes, hair extensions, brazilian waxes, lip plumping gloss? Yes, most of us love to dress up and feel sexy, but how much of it is because we know "he" likes it?)

    I know from experience. I've dated a handful of the guys like this - (I wanted to say "I dated a handful of shallow guys like this," but the way I acted with these guys was shallow too - I was guilty of it!) I actually let one guy get away with asking me, "Wait are you really wearing those shoes?" - I hustled back to my room to change them. One guy loved brunette hair and guess what? I figured it was time for a change! I felt like a total fraud, not like myself, and totally stupid for doing it once we broke up and he moved on (to a natural brunette!) and I spent a fortune going back blonde.

    The WORST though was with the guy I met right before my husband. He had persued and persued me, and finally I went to dinner with him. As he dropped me off he started explaining that he really liked me (cute, right?). It began with, "I usually really don't like sharp features - like your nose and chin - but I actually really like you. I'm actually attracted to you." And YES, I continued dating him for a few weeks! Then one night as we nuzzled on the couch, he said, as normal and casual as anything else: "When we get married you're going to get a boob job for me, huh?" NEEDLESS to say, I bailed! Three years later he is still a critical, chauvanistic BULLY towards women on Twitter, Facebook and all other social media sites. I cringe when I think of him and the damage he continues to do to other women.

    And now I am married to a man who is so incredibly wonderful & loving and complimentary and I know loves me in all my forms. But I watch my 19 year old sister in the dating game, and the way she dresses and acts around guys and the makeup she wears and I know without a doubt, without even SAYING anything, her guy friends with loud opinions affect her every move. I fear she cannot be, feel or truly love HERSELF until she chooses to. It makes me so sad, but I cannot say anything, or my criticism may be just as damaging as a bossy comment from a guy. I hope she can learn from my husband and the amazing men who surround her that she is GORGEOUS without all the bells and whistles. There are so many kind and wonderful men out there who would love her, you, your friend, your sister, for exactly who she is. Why do we allow the "jerks" all the power?

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  31. I dated a stinker for 8 months my senior year of high school. We went to prom together and with several friends. He almost never gave me compliments, and later he told me that "You knew that you were the prettiest one there" out of myself and my friends. Umm..ouch? I had totally given sincere compliments to my girl friends because of course they looked fabulous for prom, but apparently he had super attitude about me that night. We broke up very soon thereafter. :) Thanks for this post!

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  32. Ha ha I remember going on an outing with a guy and we hit some shops and he was all like I would want my wife to wear this or that and I expect... It was like designer and expensive... Pfft that was a big warning bell... Anyway he was like a model an gorgeous and even though I knew he wouldn't be romantically interested in me I knew I didn't want I date him... Turns out he's divorced now and has several troubled relationships and was not a nice husband at all, luckily his ex wife is now married to a lovely man

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  33. Hi Mara,

    I just came across your blog via pinterest. I love this post and admire you for not letting these guys and their silly suggestions get to you. And for the record, you have AMAZING hair! :)

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  34. Sometimes, these experiences make us wiser and we learn so much from these experiences if we take them in positive manner, which you did... I really liked your blog Mara, I will follow you at Pinterest too.

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  35. I am new to the blog but came here after searching for help with low self worth on the internet and your posts have been really insightful and it's so nice to know that it can be overcome, I did feel like it might be impossible!

    I have been with my boyfriend for 3 years and during the first year of our relationship he made it very clear to me through comments that he would pay more attention to me if I had bigger breasts, was tanned, thinner, had blonde hair and basically looked like the porn stars he found so attractive, he would look at other women, watch porn behind my back and go to strip clubs. He has changed considerably from that immature boy he used to be and now tells me how beautiful I am, how lucky he is to be with me and how he always wanted a girlfriend like me and he doesn't do any of those things he used to but I am left as I am now, no self worth, a boob job, trying desperately to dye my hair blonde and using a sun bed... I want to believe it when he says all these wonderful things and he is such a good boyfriend, I just wish I could forget the first year and move on and be happy with him. At the moment my insecurity is creating this distance between us and I am pushing him away which is unfair and I hate doing it. I'm trying to work on my low self worth but I don't seem to be getting very far!

    Thankyou for posting about the subjects you do, it makes me feel more hopeful about my own situation.

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  36. This is an awesome post and answered a lot of questions for me. Thanks for putting it up! I have long dark hair and I'm in love with it. When I met my husband my hair was blond but I soon decided to change it back to my natural dark brunette. Only recently he's been making comments about how he wants me to change my hair. Make it blond. I told him no, first of all it will damage my hair BADLY and second I don't want it blond and know that when I change it, I won't like it. We got in a bit of a fight and we left it there. Today he brought it up again and said that if I don't want to make it blond, he will buy me a blond wig to wear. This is absurd to me as I won't feel comfortable doing that. He freaked out and said it's impossible to talk to me about this and that it's fine he will stay unhappy with my brunette hair. This really hurt my feelings. Call me old-school but I don't like the idea of me wearing a blond wig only for him to fantasize about a "stranger". He also makes comments if I wear make-up to work or church. Also doesn't really like the idea of me wearing skirts or shorts or even certain underwear...

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  37. I had a boyfriend who was so insecure about HIS height, that when I wore heels (and became taller than him) he was so awkward and uncomfortable. It made ME feel awkward and uncomfortable... something I spent YEARS getting over and working on being more confident wearing heels as I'm already 5'11 without shoes. It was awful. One year of that did so much damage and erased so many years to working on myself, in one little year.

    The thing with being tall, and loving heels, is that at least every other day someone will comment on, 'OMG you're soooooooooo tall!', as if you're some sort of freak. They probably mean it in an awe-struck, I-wish-I-was-taller sort of way, but it can be hard to remember that in the moment of feeling like the Jolly Green Giant. I refused to give up wearing heels, so over time I slowly started feeling better about it, worked on just being more confident and accepting of my height and heels combined. Of course jokes and jabs trickled in, but you can always offset that with some jokes that or a simple, 'Thank you! *smile & walk away*'

    I'm now with someone who is the same height as my ex but doesn't care if I wear heels and am taller. A true sign of confidence! He encourages me to wear what I want and has never made comments about my height or it making HIM uncomfortable, and I really, really appreciate that :)

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