Or Why Too Much Eye Candy Can Rot Relationships I feel vindicated. Over the past few years I have developed quite an aversion to mass media. I barely watch any t.v. at all any more. I think that has been the main reason for my boost in confidence, I simply don't expose myself to all those commercial messages telling me I am dirt if I don't buy their product. But a recent article in Alternet, "Why I Hate Beauty," has reinforced my decision in a whole new way. The article, by Michael Levine and Hara Estroff Marano, starts out by explaining the contrast principle. This holds how we perceive things depends on what we are comparing them to. In a classic experiment, room temperature water seemed cold to people who had first put their hand in warm water, and hot to those who had first put their hand in cold water. What does this have to do with Playboy bunnies? Constantly surrounding ourselves with glamorized images make us feel worse about our own natural appearance. Did it take a study to tell us that? But here is the real kicker. After viewing these images men tend to rate their own partners as less attractive. Intellectually, most men know it is not a fair playing field. Not only are the most beautiful women selected, but they often surgically enhanced and/or photo shopped. They are NOT REAL! That is not the way the feminine sex comes out of the package, let alone look like when they get up in the morning. Still, on an unconscious level, the studies show it affects many (NOT ALL) men deeply. The constant bombardment of "ideal" (read phony) beauty, not just in Playboy, but everywhere in media gives them the illusion it really is available to them if only they look hard enough. If they settle for a-GASP-real woman, they are left perennially feeling that there is a better deal out there and maybe they aren't such savvy shoppers after all. 1 This affects the dynamics of relationships in and out of partnerships. My ex was a huge fan of Playboy.(And Mac Fanatic ) The underlying theme of our relationship was that he felt he could have done better. Of course, I thought just the opposite for entirely different reasons. (No Playgirls in my underwear drawer!) We divorced. I am wondering how this might affect women who are not as self-confident (read egotistical) as myself. When we feel we are not good enough for someone, or extremely lucky to have them, we give our power away. The focus is on pleasing them rather than having our own needs met . Given that women's bodies are still idealized more than men in MSM, it is easy to see how this still keeps the balance of power tipped in favor of men. It affects single men too. I have done some casual online dating. While seeing someone, I would always check the site where I met them to see if they were still active within the past few days. They always were! (Read still checking out who else is out there!) Furthermore, some were still looking months or even years later. (Some of these men I never met, just blew off and was too lazy to delete their intro messages. For those readers who might claim their experience with me turned them off long term relationships and/or women for all eternity!) Pop psychology would say this is fear of commitment. Maybe!!! But the explanation in the article really struck a chord. The allegation has been made some restaurants put artificial additives in food to get people to eat more. So when we eat those meals we will never achieve complete satiety for long, we will always be hungry again. It has nothing to do with any flaws within ourselves and everything to do with the phony food. Too much eye candy works the same way. It will produce a constant restlessness where no relationship ever feels quite right. It may have less to do with commitment phobia or the woman herself and much more to do with a glut of junk culture. Now what are we going to do about it? Hopefully, just knowing about these dynamics can help people sort out their feelings. And remember gentlemen, for centuries women have been told to do whatever it takes to conform to the norm. If you were a Chinese woman you bound your feet to be beautiful If you were a Victorian woman, you bound your waist in a corset. Some contemporary women have wired their jaws shut to starve themselves thin. Why should we be the only ones to sacrifice and deny ourselves pleasure??? If you know that overdosing on all those sweet images is making you as emotionally restless as hyperactive 3rd graders the day after Halloween, UNSUBSCRIBE to the magazines and TURN OFF THE T.V.!!! 1 Levine and Marano "Why I Hate Beauty." http://www.alternet.org/sex/93861/why_i_hate_beauty/ I highly recommend reading the article for yourself. It is well worth your time!!!