You don’t need to “look good for” anyone

Warning: rant ahead. It contains opinions, emotions and expletives.

Some time ago, I made a mistake and scrolled through my Facebook feed, stopping to read a post with an odd picture below it.

One of my professional contacts had posted a picture of his wife applying her false eye lashes on a plane and some words, beginning with, “My amazing wife ALWAYS looks good for me. I don’t ask her to do this. She says that I “deserve to be with somebody who doesn’t wear sweatpants and Disney T-shirts”… She does this for me because she wants the world to see me as she sees me. It’s one of the many reasons that I am so devoted to her and so in love with her.”

Wait, it gets better: “This is a photo that illustrates my point perfectly. She is applying her eye lashes on a flight, even though it’s very hard and stressful, and I asked her why… she said it’s because “you deserve that, [name withheld]. It’s my honor to show up for you every day. You are my hero and deserve the respect of a wife that looks good for you, you have earned that in life.”

Okay. Deep breath, Dallas.

WHAT THE ACTUAL F***.

Women, hear me clearly: you do not need to “look good for” a man.

“Showing up” for a relationship does not mean that you need to apply false eye lashes on a plane, or exercise obsessively, or get breast augmentation, or wear skimpy clothing to “show off” for him.

“Showing up” means being your best self, even if you do that in your sweatpants and a T-shirt.

Being your best self isn’t evidenced by your appearance, but it’s a truly beautiful thing to behold.

It’s so beautiful that you can see it with your eyes closed, because it’s wholly unrelated to how you look.

Men, ohhh, men: every time you praise a woman for doing something like this, you contribute to the societal messaging that if a woman doesn’t “look good”, then she is less valuable, and you reinforce her belief that you love her partly because she looks a certain way, potentially prompting going to some extreme, “very hard and stressful” lengths to look that way.

And that idea makes me really f**cking mad.

If I had a daughter who had a boyfriend who Facebook-praised her for “ALWAYS looking good for me”, I’d be scheduling a sit-down chat.

Men, DO BETTER.

Photo: Kristin, beautiful with my eyes closed. A random roadside in Costa Rica, 2016.

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26 Comments

  • Meghan Whitcomb

    So depressing. We are all responsible for this.

  • Nicky

    Ahhhhhhhhhmazing! And for a man to say it, the best! Thank you for that….now how do we get the rest of the men on board?

  • Kathleen Nikkel

    Thank you for this. If only this were the truth. I mean the part that men could actually love a woman no matter what she looks like. Not sure it’s possible. But thank you for putting that out there. Btw, if that picture is your idea of not being “put together”, it’s a pretty high bar-she looks very put together to me, obviously beautiful naturally. I would say most men would say she looks really beautiful in that picture. Again, I really appreciate the message-it’s a message I wish would actually get to the heart of our society.

  • Karrie M

    Wow, thank you.

  • Parker

    I deeply appreciate this, and wish that more people believed this. The reality is that we have built a “swipe right” culture where appearances, especially youthful appearances, are prized. Until you’ve been rejected for your appearances, especially for the decline of them that is just plain inevitable, you just can’t fathom the extent of our culture’s allocation of resources based on this one factor. It is devastating.

  • Jacque

    I have to say, this is one of my favorite rants of yours. Mostly because given my upbringing in this culture, it took you pointing out *why* it was problematic for me to see it clearly. So, thank you.

  • Sherryl Hauck

    Thank you Dallas. As a 55 year old woman I also need to do better when it comes to self love and accepting my aging and changing appearance. I’m trying every day.

  • Christina

    Well said! Thank you!

  • Christine

    Thank you!

  • Anne

    Thank goodness my husband gets it. I stopped wearing makeup the day he asked me why I put all that junk on my face because I didn’t need it. I am 57 now and that was about 15 years ago. My skin has never looked better. But, I think the “looking good for my man” mindset has been going on for a long time. My 80 year old mother tells me frequently that I should put some makeup on. She is always in makeup and has a friend who won’t answer the door or leave her house without “putting her face on”. I am sure these women do not even know what social media is.

  • Sheila Ward

    Dallas Hartwig, thank you for this rant! 🙂

  • Joe

    I actually put on lashes for my wife. Is that wrong?

  • Alexandra Solomon

    Ooh I’m loving this rant. Thank you, Dallas, for modeling a modern masculinity of depth and awareness.

  • Elissa

    I absolutely love this. My man adores me with or without makeup, and I only wear it when I want to….which isn’t very often. If a woman wants to put on makeup that’s one thing, but you’re exactly right: a woman should not have to feel like her man only adores her or finds her beautiful or that she only ‘shows up’ by her made-up appearance. Real love and beauty is much deeper than the mask many women wear.

  • Joanna

    So…. here’s the thing. I agree that we make it harder than necessary; beauty is a lot more than makeup. AND. If I want to look fantastic for my husband, it’s also my darned right to do it.

    I’m not sure false eyelashes make anyone look good, but that’s a separate discussion.

  • Ida

    I love this post and I love the passion with which you said it!!! And I love your work in general! 🙂 But I have to say that photo makes me feel inadequate. 🙁 She looks gorgeous. I never look that good without a makeup artist and professional photographer. And so I find myself slipping into my usual thoughts: “I’m ugly and gross” which are countered with “well if I put more effort and wore makeup and practiced taking selfies or photos, I too could look pretty good” which is then countered with “F*** this stupid sh**, I shouldn’t care” which is countered with “but I do”. 🙁 sigh. Still working on this. … Anyways hope the appearance-obsession in our culture dies down one day. 🙂

  • Kyra

    I’m a young women in my 20’s, and I am so guilty of this.. An ex of mine used to praise so much to me how “great & tiny” my body was.. Being my type A self, I went to the extreme of trying to uphold and keep that visionary for him, so I started forcely making myself run 28 miles everyday will eating a diet of 1 piece of toast, 1 can of tuna, and steamed veggies. I essentially was a walking skeleton until I stepped on the scale and saw two digits instead of three. After that day I promised to start taking better care of myself, so since then, I have put on a healthy amount of weight back and am genuinely focusing on my inner well being instead of the outer that society seems to only appreciate.

  • rachel bleier

    I could kiss you. Amazingly said.

  • S H

    This line is the one that really stands out to me, “She does this for me because she wants the world to see me as she sees me.” How can a woman’s makeup make the world see her husband as she sees him? Also, how does one “earn” a wife that “looks good” for them? And how does a wife looking a certain way show respect to her husband? I’m utterly baffled. All I can think is that she’s hoping to cause other men to envy her husband because his wife “looks good”. The judgy side of it’s charming as well – so what if someone wants to wear sweatpants and a Disney shirt?

    While this example was very obvious with how much he cares about and emphasizes her looks, there are subtler ways of telling your wife that looks matter to you. Checking out other women and/or watching porn accomplish this really well. You’re sending a message that your wife isn’t good enough (whether or not this is how you actually feel). This is what she’ll internalize. Women get constant pressure from media, society, etc to change the way they look – that they aren’t good enough as they are. When you pay attention to those women who look the way society idolizes, you’re telling your wife that those messages she fights daily are true. You’re reinforcing in her mind that those women are better than her. Be a loyal, faithful man and your wife won’t feel the need to alter her appearance to keep your attention. She will know that she’s good enough the way she is, that you respect and value your wife (and respect other women). To use Dallas’ example – if you had a daughter whose boyfriend or husband watched porn or checked out other women, would you be fine with this? Wouldn’t you want him to truly value her? I know that I’ll likely get flak for saying this and debated whether or not to post, but I feel like it needs to be mentioned. Also, I realize that there are women who are actually fine with this, but in my experience, most aren’t.

    • Rachel

      I hope you don’t catch flak and I’m really glad you decided to post, because I love Dallas’ original post but I may love your comments even more. So well stated and very insightful messages.

  • Irene

    Thank you.

  • Sherry LeBlanc

    Dallas you are my superhero ♥️♥️ I absolutely loved your rant!! We need our children to realize that beauty is only skin deep, what is inside is what’s important!!
    So true when you say,
    Being your best self isn’t evidenced by your appearance, but it’s a truly beautiful thing to behold. Love this!!!

  • Catherine Blessing

    i have struggled with appearance my whole life. since childhood, i have had extensive facial scarring, even after a horrific debriding surgery in my teens. i spent twenty years choosing makeup and hairstyles that would help hide my face (you know what worked best? the summer i cut my hair so short that i was continually mistaken for a boy; no one said i should “do something about my face” then), and between the time i was eight and twenty-eight i allowed no one to touch my face ever because i couldn’t stand the reminder of the thick, pitted, and rough texture of my scars. but then i had my son, and as babies do, while nursing he reached up and touched my chin. he looked at me like i was fascinating; i probably looked at him the same way. and he hated the smell of anything fake: makeup included. so i stopped wearing it. i spent my maternity leave in pajamas with dirty hair bonding with my baby, and i began to believe my husband when he said that what he loves is the realness of me, the person i will still be when i am old. if i could replicate for anyone the transformative power of being loved or valued or even just being SEEN by someone in this person-centric way, i would. because i don’t feel ugly anymore. i feel real and vital and i show up for my husband and my son and myself every day by staying that way. and they do the same for me. i spent years pouring enormous amounts of actual and emotional capital into the doomed quest for beauty, or at least not-ugliness, and it was profoundly wasteful because i am not my face (or hair, or figure): i am so much more. so while we’re all being rightly disgusted by the textual and subtextual attitudes of that couple from facebook, let’s also take a moment to be compassionate toward anyone who is in such an arid psychological place that their effort to be authentically loving and loved is expressed primarily by appearance. everyone loses in such an economy of “beauty.”

  • Kimberly

    I applaud this rant and the comments that have followed. But, let’s be sure we aren’t doing the same thing to the men in our lives. We should present ourselves to each other as our authentic selves, however that may be. It is how we teach the children (and sometimes the adults) in our lives how to treat all people with respect and dignity. This includes learning to receive compliments as well as giving them, something that took me a while to learn.

  • Bonnie

    Well said! I love this post. Next let’s address why so many of us want a man to adore us. (I’m one!) Been without for many years (I’m 62). I have a friend who is on her fifth marriage. She just can’t be without one, so keeps jumping right in.

  • Linda

    So you saw an idiotic post on Facebook, and you are surprised?

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