When I was a wee sprout, I read this story about two princes who were both given fancy-shmancy jackets by the King (their Pops). Their one charge was to take care of the jackets. The two princes then encounter various catastrophes throughout their day. They both see a man with his wagon stuck in the mud. One prince says, “sorry Charlie, getting you out of that mud would mess up my fly jacket.” But the other prince rolls up his sleeves and helps the stranded guy, and his jacket is flecked with mud. Later, there is a fire in the village. One prince says, “Not my prob,” but the other runs in a burning house and rescues people, and his jacket is burnt with holes. And more things like this happen, and one prince keeps his jacket clean while the other one almost completely destroys his. At the end of the day, the King is outraged that the one prince has really effed up his jacket, but then the townspeople come forward and explain all that he did to help them. The king learns that the jacket was destroyed not through carelessness or disrespect, but through care and respect for others. Then the king publicly honors the ruin’t jacket prince and shames the immaculate-jacket prince for his selfishness.*
The moral of the story, I think, was about value. Yes, the jackets were snazzy and deserved to be cared for. But one prince (rightly) saw that living a life worth living necessitated messing up his jacket.
This is a very long intro to something I’ve been thinking about lately, especially in my grisly old age.
TRYING TO BE BEAUTIFUL WHEN YOU’RE AN AGING WOMAN IS THE WORST.
Think about it – what’s valued in women, beauty wise? Wrinkle free and soft skin is sexy. Having no extra body fat anywhere (EXCEPT in the “right” places, of course) is sexy. Pretty nails are at least.. appreciated, even if they aren’t sexy per se. Grey hair is not really acceptable, much less valued, until you are at least 65. Etc. etc .etc.
What’s valued in men? Wrinkles are fine. Rough hands are sexy. Muscles are sexy. Pretty nails are *not* sexy, imo. Grey foxes are sexy. Etc. etc etc.
I’m not just trying to say “beauty standards for women are unfair!” Plenty o’ people have already said that. My point is that the more men live their lives and DO STUFF, the more sexy they become. But for women, the more we live active lives, the less sexy we become.
To achieve the perfect beauty regimen, women should do nothing but lounge around in a spa. They shouldn’t do anything with their hands so they’ll stay soft and our nails won’t get janky. We shouldn’t go outside in any weather that’s too cold, or our skin will dry out. Too windy, we’ll get wind-chapped. Too sunny, and we’ll get wrinkles. And to maintain our 900 calories/day to keep up our prepubescent figures, we should be practically comatose. Oh, and we probably shouldn’t do any real work so we don’t accidentally get real functional muscles.
I would like to propose to women everywhere that we think about our looks like the prince did his jacket. Should we abuse it just to abuse it? No. There’s no honor in binge drinking or refusing to exercise. But… am I going to refuse to go hiking on a sunny day or do science lab work (it’s very rough on the hands, tbh) or do anything remotely stressful so that I can make sure my skin doesn’t wrinkle, my hands don’t get rough and calloused, and my hair doesn’t gray?
“Fooie patooie” – C Galloswag
Naw. Let’s live our lives, ladies, and let the hands roughen, the wrinkles deepen, and the hairs grey. So what if the sleeping beauties are more beautiful than us? The Prince Charmings can have ’em. I’ll be fighting communism with Prince Janky-Jacket 😉
— EDITORIAL NOTES —
*I read this story over 20 years ago, so I’m basically making up all the details. But this was essentially what happened 😀