Yesterday a photo fell out of my scrapbook and I saw what a high school friend had written on the back “Cindy – I’ll always remember all the good times we had and all your bad jokes!  You’re a pretty wonderful girl.  Do me one favor – and please start wearing more make up and set your hair.  You can’t believe how good it looks.  Best of Luck and God Bless.”

I did set my hair in high school.  I slept on rollers the size of beer cans that left dents in my skull.  What I didn’t do was tease my hair up into the heights popular in the sixties.  I like softness.  For the same reason, I was never a fan of hair spray.  I was a folk singer…

His comments made me think about the many times in my life that men (and boys) have felt free to comment on my weight, my clothes, my hair, my make-up, my personality, etc. etc…  Did I do the same to them?

I never remember giving a man input about his weight.  My friend, almost brother, Jamie always asked for feedback on his clothes, which was difficult since he was a West New York kind of guy and I was a folksy kind of girl so our taste in clothing never matched. It always took Jamie ages to get dressed, longer than any girl I ever knew!

My current partner, John, occasionally sees an older man dressed poorly and says “Please don’t let me go out of the house dressed like that!”  or “I don’t ever dress like that, do I?” – a sort of geezer fear alert.

On the day before he went to Europe during WWII, my first father-in-law wore all his favorite articles of clothing despite the fact that none of them matched.  I loved Bill.  I imagine him smiling his FDR smile and wearing his friendliest clothing the day before he headed off to fight Hitler.

After I married for the first time, we lived in DC and I wanted a cat.  My husband said I could get one if I lost 15 pounds.  I stopped eating anything but dinner.  In two weeks I met the mark and we got Jason at the animal shelter.  I learned how to be anorexic.  Great cat though.

I don’t remember commenting on any of my husbands’ clothing unless they asked.  My 2nd husband had this shirt that was so old, it was see through.  I may have made a comment once about the shirt verses the venue but received such a heated response that I knew never again to question this man or his shirts.

My third husband told me that my weight was “almost good enough” and then monitored my ice cream consumption.  He made me feel like burying food container trash in the back yard – something my best friend and I used to do in grade school to hide empties from her parents!  After we married, that husband became very controlling.  Suddenly I drove too fast.  (Hadn’t he ridden with me constantly for the two years prior?)  The house he had loved was on a street that he found too noisy.  I could go on but…

I don’t look at men and think “Gee – if he were thinner, he would be really handsome.” “If he was wearing a nicer jacket, he would look better.”  I do look at women this way.   “She would look really nice if thus and such.”  “I don’t like her outfit.”

We are all conditioned to think critically of women.  Perhaps it goes back to women being chattel.  Like slaves, we had to have good teeth, child bearing hips, etc. etc.

Once I know people, I think even less critically of them.  I see them as people.  Would that I could view everyone that way.