This is not the first time this has happened. I was standing in line at the grocery store with my two year old son when the lady behind me looked at him and said: “He is so gorgeous. He is going to be a heart breaker.” She then turned to him and continued: “I bet you will only date models.”
I know most mothers would be flattered that a stranger thought her son was so adorable but I couldn’t help but feel insulted. Every bone in my body ached. As a woman and as his mother. No. I don’t want my son to be a heart breaker. No. I don’t think it’s cute to say that to a toddler. And I definitely don’t think it’s cute to say that he would only be interested in models.
I would like to make it clear that I don’t think there is anything wrong with being a model. Or any other career that revolves solely on one’s looks. There is also nothing wrong with being beautiful and caring about yourself. I would not be unhappy or disappointed if my son chose to marry a model. What would make me disappointed was if her looks or her modeling status were the reasons why he chose her.
To imply that it’s acceptable, and expected, for a man to be a heart breaker and choose women based on their looks is sexist to the infinite degree. It’s derogatory. It’s demeaning. And it’s ignorant. But her comments describe our society perfectly; and it’s not even her fault. That’s how she was raised to believe. That’s how most of us were all raised to believe. In her mind she was doing nothing but giving a cute baby a compliment. She failed to comprehend that her words fuel a society in which women are seen as disposable objects, categorized and valued by their looks rather than their IQ. This is particularly true in the city we live in.
The clueless grocery store lady also failed to comprehend that by referring to women with such little respect she was perpetuating a culture where women are meant to be conquests and trophies and where men are the selectors. Needless to say, the breaking of hearts and the selection of models are praised norms.
The moment that stranger said that I wanted to turn around and do nothing but scold her for her pejorative remarks. The 23 year old me would have said some pretty cold things right there and then. But I took a deep breath and I reminded myself that I was 28 going on 29. That I was a mother. And that it was only the first day of the month. Instead I just turned around and I said: “Actually, I am going to raise him so he grows up to be a man of substance and therefore will know how to choose women based on equal or higher qualities. Namaste.”
And I don’t even know why I said Namaste.
I don’t even like yoga.