By James Stafford
I've grown immune to the use of sex to sell products. I can't tell you who the starlet of the week is. I'm immune to beer commercials and other "buy this product and have sex with hot hard bodies" advertisements. What I find attractive has aged along with me.
I have no more interest in 20-year-olds than they have in me. Flirty young waitresses just embarrass me, but you wouldn't know that from commercials, movies and television. According to pop culture, all I want is a girl gone wild.
And because pop culture insists on making every woman believe that she isn't beautiful if she isn't a teenaged size zero, and on making every man doubt his virility if he's not chasing (and catching) supermodels, I decided to break the man code and tell you the truth about what I find attractive.
I love the gray in your hair, not only because it's a beautiful color but because you are comfortable enough to be yourself. Okay, it makes me a bit more comfortable with the gray in my beard. Yeah, I admit it.
I love the wrinkles at the corners of your eyes and mouth. You've spent a lifetime smiling, which means you might give my nerdy jokes a mercy laugh.
I love that your jaw line has softened. You were always beautiful, but that young, angular face lacked gravitas.
I love your glasses, and not in a Van Halen "Hot for Teacher" sort of way. Well, a little bit in a "Hot for Teacher" sort of way, but mostly because they say, "I'm getting older, too" better than Stevie Nicks ever could.
I love your belly. It's soft and womanly and without pretense. It's a belly that loves life, not vanity. "It's unfortunate what we find pleasing to the touch and pleasing to the eye is seldom the same," Pulp Fiction's Fabienne tells the Seagram's Wine Coolers guy, and if you don't get that reference you're way too young for me. Seldom doesn't mean never. I'll take curves any day.
I love that you don't care what people think about what you read, watch, or listen to. Those faí§ades we hauled around as younger people were exhausting.
I love that you let me adore you. I shouldn't complain, but it's hard sometimes to be a man. I'm not your boss, your competition or your co-worker. I'm not The Man trying to keep you down or put you in your place. I just want to open the door for you because it's polite. I want to pick up the check, open the jars, hold your hand. There's no gender politics at work. That you realize that says everything about your character.
We age; embrace it. Kindness, humor, confidence and intelligence mean so much more than anti-gravity breasts, six-pack abs and a heart-shaped behind.
Female beauty as portrayed in pop culture is timeless because there's always another 20-year-old waiting for her big break, starving herself, living at the gym, surgically adding, removing or shifting parts around. They are a visual lie, these pop-culture goddesses - women but then again not.
Inevitably, they aren't real. But you are, and you are absolutely beautiful.
James Stafford is the Executive Editor of the Good Men Project, where this essay originally appeared. Reprinted by permission.
Photo credit: elkor/istockphoto.com