For my sons

I don’t know if this is a subject you want to hear from me. I imagine not. But I think I am the best placed to give you this lesson.

I don’t envy either of you. The world is a very different place than it was when I was your age. But some things stay the same.

The world is filled with images of how we ‘are supposed’ be. Instagram, Facebook, advertisements, magazines, film…all telling us what is attractive. This is for men and for women. The pressure is there for both.

Remember one thing. Someone, somewhere made the decision of what ‘attractive’ is. They then published it for one reason only – so we will buy what they are selling so we can look and feel like that. Keep that in mind every time you see an advert for abs, or for bulking up or whatever else men are subjected to.

My advice? Be healthy. Exercise, eat well, keep clean and tidy and dress well. That, my sons, will be enough. No one is enamoured with someone who never brushes their teeth.

I’m sure you realise though, that the pressure on women is perhaps even greater and always has been. Not only are they presented with professionally made-up women with their perfect hair and make up, these women are airbrushed and filtered. Whilst the male physique never really changes from a fashion sense, a woman’s certainly does. At this moment, round bottoms and tiny waists are in fashion. How ridiculous is that boys? A woman’s shape can be in fashion or not. What message is that giving them?

So for that reason, here is my advice to you.

No matter how beautiful you find a woman there will ALWAYS be a part of herself that she hates. She might even be unhappy with most of herself.

How will you know? It’s the part that she covers up: with make up, with clothes, with her hands. It might be the parts that she is always working on – a new diet or exercise plan, a new cream or make up product.

Make no mistake, whilst she wants to improve herself for her own wellbeing, don’t be fooled. If you are with her, she is doing it for you too. If not, then for whoever she wants to find. How much that is an incentive to her will be different for every woman but it will be there. Why? Because we all want acceptance. We all want to be needed and wanted and desired by someone else.

So this is where is becomes difficult for you. How do you navigate this emotionally difficult situation? How can you seem supportive and non judgemental but not dismissive of her feelings? That my sons, is the tricky part.

Whilst it is not your job to boost the self esteem of every woman you ever date, it is certainly your role to support her with that difficult task.

How?

By noticing.

On the days where she has tried extra hard with her hair or make up or clothes, tell her you’ve noticed. On the days she gets out of bed with her hair dishevelled and wearing cuddly pyjamas, tell her how much you love her eyes or smile or whatever else made you want to be with her.

Tell her, this woman you love, that to you she is perfect how she is, flaws and all. Tell her you don’t care if she thinks her bum is flat or boobs are small or stomach is flabby or whatever else. You love her how she is – healthy and happy and her.

No one is perfect boys. No one. Maybe there are parts of her that deep down you wish were a little different. Know this – we each could describe an construct a perfect person to be with. But what is perfect for us may still not be perfect in their eyes. Loving someone is loving all of them.

At the same time, if you say these things too much then it can have the opposite effect that you were trying to achieve. She won’t believe you and think you insincere. I know that it is a difficult balance, and it will be different with every woman. Again I give you this advice…Notice. Pay attention.

Never, ever tell a girl she is too fat or thin even in anger, even if she is. The moment you say those words you will lose something in your relationship which you will never get back. If you are worried about her weight then support her with it when she asks. Exercise together, cook together, encourage and support never criticise or point out her mistakes.

A woman’s self esteem is fragile boys, no matter how confident she seems. If she loves you, it becomes all the more delicate. Remember that.

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