Attempting to Unravel the Truth about Beauty: Part One

Sometime ago I posted an article written by a self-professed “exceedingly attractive” woman who was having a good moan about women who were punching well above their weight and married or dating attractive, successful men.  Snopes said this was a possibly a hoax, but it highlighted some really cool and confronting stuff I want to talk about.

Here is the article in question..

Something strange happened after posting this. I got a lot of responses from single men and women, who agreed with the sentiments of the woman (real or fake though she may be) in the article. They also disclosed how fraught their own romantic struggles could be, but they were quite vehemently on board with her honesty regarding people needing to be attractive, and work on their external looks, as an absolute priority.

The happily married guys and gals chimed in saying lovely or amusing things about themselves or their partners. One quite cool guy stated he felt like he was punching well above his weight and his wife was amazing (she is by the way). Several mummy friends laughed and shrugged off the derogatory statements made about our comfortable clothes and ponytails.

I’d hazard a guess that the people who are jealous or incredulous towards the happily, comfortably married folks (male or female) and not-so-secretly noticing their faithful partners, probably wouldn’t have given them a second look before they were taken.  A simple case of grass is greener, or wanting what they don’t currently have. That’s fine, and it makes sense, so no harm no foul, provided the jealous parties don’t actively coerce the happily coupled types to jump ship.  And if they do, good riddance.


Consistent and long-term coupling takes effort and evolution as an individual and as a team. So yeah, sometimes the lipgloss gets retired as it is not a priority when we need meet the rigorous challenges of family life.


But standing on the outside looking in and thinking:  “Why doesn’t she just put in a touch of effort!  Look at her man all dapper and hot” actually makes a great deal of sense. It isn’t particularly helpful though, as I also think these women would bore quickly if they were subjected to the throws of domestic bliss of yoga pant, ponytail, and bare faced mummy types.


In my genuine experience, a lot of these guys think their make-up free, slightly frumpy female companions ARE beautiful.  Grumpy proper thinks I am one of the most beautiful women in the world.  He’s an absolutely ineffective liar, so experience tells me that he’s genuine in his assertions that, to him, I am.  I don’t think I earned this, I’m just grateful for the fact it is.  And to me, he is equally perfect and gorgeous.  Lucky or by design?  Probably a bit of both.  And it doesn’t mean that both of us don’t occasionally meet other human beings that we find quite irresistible in one way or another.  Meet enough people in this life and you’re bound to bump into a few you’d not mind bumping uglies with.  Sorry if that’s crass… We’re animals.  Choosing not to act on this stuff and resisting temptation has its own rewards though.

Here’s the thing: We are the women that have bore their children, tended to them when they get the man-flu, have seen them cry (yes, men cry) and laugh and everything in between. That kind of intimacy and collateral that builds up over months and years comes at a cost that nobody can ever quantify.  That kind of connection evolves over time and through trials, and it is not for everyone. And, quite often, that intimacy has a life expectancy for some people as well.  Many a couple have gone their separate ways when the kids fly the coop, or if priorities or personalities go too far askew in their trajectory.  This is life.

So I’ve spent the last couple of weeks skimming articles on attraction, relationships, marriage, courtship, physical beauty, sexual desire, and a variety of other subjects that were touched upon in the article and its responses.

I feel no more enlightened, but what I have confirmed is that although there are varied personal and cultural criterion for what people consider attractive, there are also some fairly universal themes.

Here’s a short list of stuff that just about everyone is looking for in a partner and a brief explanation of why:

1)  Symmetry


Absolute symmetry in the human form is quite simply impossible. But we have an innate ability to seek it out and be attracted to it on both a subconscious and conscious level. While our mammas are making us in their bellies, the cells are striving for health and symmetry as they are being made.  Outward physical appearance of symmetry can be a basic indicator that your parents gave you good genes and you had a nice safe and healthy place to gestate so you’ll have plenty of good genes to pass on yourself.  Not that this is always the case, of course, but it is a thing our brains do consistently in clinical test and daily life.

2)  Health


Having nice clear whites of your eyes, bright smile, fresh breath, healthy proportional weight, rosy cheeks, red lips, great skin, good muscle tone, etc. These are all generally universally sought after traits.  We’ve even designed ways to “trick” people into thinking we are healthy.  Make-up colours and techniques tend to mimic the naturally occurring facial signs of health.  We also have gravity defying undergarments, platform shoes, fashion tricks like pin stripes to make men look taller and a variety of other tricks and hacks to put our best (and healthiest) face forward.

3)  Posture

Good posture makes you look taller.  Taller is frequently considered more attractive. Posture also exudes an air of confidence, and confidence is something the vast majority of people relate inextricably with attractiveness as well.

4)  Hygiene

Good personal hygiene is obviously attractive.  Different cultures have different definitions of what this actually is. Some cultures are quite keen not to mask their personal musk with such things as perfumes and deodorants, and a strong musky scent is considered just fine.  Other cultures primp and preen and mask personal odor with potions, lotions and scents.  Regardless, there is a conscious and subconscious reaction to the way people smell. Have you ever just been wantonly attracted to someone for no apparent reason, even, horror of horrors if you really thought they were a bit yuck?  You might just be falling prey to pheromones.

5)  Energy levels

People with a lot of energy, even quiet confidence, are generally universally considered more attractive.  Sluggish, slouchy Eeyore types are not going to be imagined as the monster in the sack that most of us are keen to take for a joyride. Neither are they going to be seen as good prospects for genetic material or long term coupling. Humans generally crave comfort, protection, joy and even excitement.  Confident people hold the promise of these things.

Research also states that women have an evolutionary lean towards “bad boys” or “alpha males” or even “beta males” for genetic purposes, as these douche bags tend to have healthy genes (at least, according to our reptilian brains!).  They are good for coitus and procreation and not much else. However, for long-term coupling, the nice guy wins. And I for one, am eternally grateful for this fact, after being mixed up with several lifetimes worth of undeniably beautiful, but absolutely abhorant and appalling bad boys.

Men also crave an excessively brazen hussy on some level.  What is that saying? Men want their wives to be a saint in public and a slut in the sack?  Well, apparently there’s similar biological and evolutionary reasoning for this as well. Highly sexed and fertile women were historically more likely to breed prolifically. That window of the luteal phase of our ovulation where our cheeks flush, our lips plump up, our pupils dilate, and our legs more readily open is our most fertile point, and men are quite receptive to it on both a conscious and reptilian level. Apparently.

Historically, there were other, perhaps less highly sexed women in the household, tribe or village that took on the nurturing roles.  Or in some cases, women who passed their breeding prime took on these roles. This job sharing stuff was quite common until relatively recently, even in Western civilisations.

Even today, in many cultures and tribes phenomena like wet nurses and matriarchs are not uncommon. Cultures and religions that allow the taking of many wives for one wealthy man tend to delegate child-rearing responsibilities.

Modern women in the Western world place upon themselves and have placed upon them lofty expectations of performance, beauty, maternal instinct, youthfulness, success, and even vulnerability.  In modern Western society we are often expected to be perfect and able to do it everything.

Kind of unfair if you ask me.  Women are meant to be hot, ageless, maternal, sexy, independent, dependent, vulnerable, attractive, well behaved, entertaining, tough, kind, nurturing and needy all at once. Pretty tiring, and a tall order even for Wonder Woman. Sadly, gone are the days when households and communities could job share this stuff.  (Not that I am in any hurry to run out and get a sister wife anytime soon!)

Back to the point:

  • Our ideas of what is attractive and important is constantly evolving and in flux.
  • Choosing to be with one partner is not for everyone, and the sacrifices and rewards for making these choice are also constantly in flux.
  • True beauty is a package deal has more to do with compatibility and shared priorities than it ever has to do with symmetry or universal physical attractiveness.
  • The most integral Love affair anyone is ever going to have is with oneself. If you don’t cherish and adore yourself, you’ll end up empty and dissatisfied with or without someone else.

I’ll elaborate if enough people are interested in a second instalment.

It would be fantastic to hear some feedback on this before the next installment.  I realize that it is a bit married mamma centric, but I write about what I know, and what I know is indeed being a married mamma.

Thanks for reading.




Fish and Chips, Funny Quips, Memory Lane Trips, and… What Kind of Pics?

One of the coolest things to come of our impending celebration renewal of vows (currently a week away) is the reminiscing.

My flatmate from a semester I studied at the University of Calgary has taken a very rare break from her work to come down and join us for the party.  After being stopped by the drug dog, interrogated for two hours, searched, and then finding out that it was actually the dude next to her that was carrying and she just kinda got caught in the crossfire, she arrived safe but shaken through our threshold a couple of days ago.  She’ll be adventuring around the Auckland region with one of the many new friends she’s already made, and then heading out to the Eminem concert on Saturday night, before catching a plane to embark on a two day journey to get to Orlando Florida for a work gig.

THAT is friendship.  Also, probably more than just a little bit of foolishness.  But then, if, I recall, as a team, we always did have a bit of a penchant for foolishness, so why would it wane after 15 years?

Here is a picture of our good friend Coen and Alie… and our fridge at University.


NOTE:  IF ANYONE ANYWHERE HAS SEEN THIS MAN, PLEASE LET US KNOW!  We have scoured the Internet for our long lost Flying Dutchman friend, and it has turned up nothing so far.  If you know him, tell him to get in touch with either Alie or myself!  We’d LOVE to see him.

Back to the story.

For the past two days, the house has been full of friends, kids, and various visitors.  We’re putting the finishing touches on the run sheets for the day, finalising menus, all that type of stuff.

While I was off gallivanting in California last week, the bridesmaids and another friend (who is a stellar event manager) have spent hours on the phone and Internet organising EVERYTHING for the day.


I’ve got no idea what I did to deserve friends and sisters like these, and even with my generally extensive verbosity, I just don’t have the words to tell them how much I Love and appreciate them, not just for what they’ve done for us recently, but for the years and years of support and ups and downs and all that they have been through and we have weathered together.


So, part of the preparation seems to be a lot of trips down memory lane.  Friends of mine are meeting for the first time, and sharing eerily similar stories about the things we got up to in days gone by.

Oh my word, I have crammed a lot of adventures in over the past 35 years.

The thing that has struck me though, is that I look back on the many foolish things I’ve done, and the time I spent in my youth, and it generally makes me sad.  Talking to my friends about it over the past few days though, oh my… did we have some fun.

So last night, we drove out to get some Kiwi fish and chips.  My two friends shared stories about the fun we had and the mischief we got up to.

I’ll spare you the gory details.  We did have an amazing laugh about a Halloween party in Calgary where we hosted people from various nations and continents in our small res apartment.  One of the Germans very loudly proclaiming “I have a bratwurst in my pants!” while our Newfie friend (dressed in completely politically incorrect garb) was yelling “Coen, COEN!” (pronounced K-oo-n) across the room to our flying Dutchman friend who was standing with the gorgeous social butterfly lad from Ghana.  The hilarity of that night is easily fodder for one of the best comedy sketches that could ever be written, and we weren’t even trying to be funny or ironic.  Just being young, foolish, insecure and enjoying our time together as we all knew that it was fleeting.

More than a decade on, I’m languishing in the rather sheltered existence of wedded bliss. I have a suitcase full of memories of the time before time when I was footloose and fancy-free.  And the many varied paths my friends have taken, both getting and staying married, or single, breeding, or not breeding, traveling or building careers.

I am enjoying learning vicariously about life as a single person from the friends who are out there in the dating trenches.  It is quite mind-boggling how things are done in the digital age.  It turns out a lot has changed since I was single, and there’s way more happening on dating scene in 2014.


So being happily spoken for for more than a decade now means I have not been privy to the wonders of technology that are bringing people together in this digital age.  When I was a young lass, I’d date people I ran into at work, school, or out socializing and courting and chaos would commence from there.

It is no longer so simple.

There are dozens of sites and apps for people to go to in order to find Love, or a romp, or anything at either extreme or in between.

You can hook up with someone at a moment’s notice anywhere in the world, by swiping left or right on your smart phone.

It just happens that my friends are not only quite attractive women, they are also charming and funny and therefore the object of more than a little bit of attention out there in the singles scene.

And you know what happens to them with alarming frequency?

How can I put this gently…

Well.  They get sent pictures of the male anatomy, that really ought to remain unseen in polite society, with no solicitation.

I found this little sketch on YouTube, and I think it is important for those single people out there to take the time to have a listen as it offers some fairly sound advice:

Why I found this so fascinating I don’t know.   It was also quite a shock to be faced with the fact I am so utterly out of the loop and, I guess, a bit of a prude.  “What do you mean it happens ALL THE TIME?”  I gasped upon hearing literally dozens of stories from my girlfriends.

As a result of seeing these girls, we have been engaging in a lot of conversations about dating etiquette, then and now.

I’m not sure if it is a testament to our age and the increased confidence that comes with being over 30, or if things are really genuinely changing, but as far as I can tell many women are gaining the upper hand in this dating dance.

Dating today means there is no waiting for the man to make the first move.  It is okay to say no, and it is absolutely okay to say yes as well.  Being single is not a sin, and being separated and sowing wild oats does not make you a harlot or a social pariah.  Strangely, my gorgeous guy friends who are recently back in the game are finding it much harder than the women, and in my small study sample, that seems to consistently be the case.

All this talk of dating exposed my beloved Grumpy’s strangely chivalrous side.  Despite being quite a cad in a lot of ways, the man I married is a gentleman and, quite genuinely, a fabulous feminist.

“I just don’t think you should ever be in a position where you feel like you owe any of these guys anything.”  He said to our friend. “There are some real jerks out there, and just because they buy you things or shout you plane rides, you shouldn’t feel obliged to them for anything.”

Well.  Colour me gushy, my gorgeous Grumpy feels genuine concern and protectiveness for the women we know, and also thinks it is about high time they had the option of being out there chasing a bit of tail of that’s all they want to do.  Double standards be damned, but a lady should still be treated with dignity and respect, and she should certainly be showing the same level of regard for the hearts and minds of the men she dates.

So.  In conclusion.

I am enormously and immeasurably thankful to NOT be out there in the trenches of the dating game.  Regardless of the improved ease the online environment has given to participants wishing to engage in, well, anything you can imagine from what I gather.

I’ve met my match.  And as our friends have oft pointed out  (rather coarsely at times) perhaps the only man on the planet who has what it takes to handle the fantastic tapestry of chaos, kindness, Love and confusion that is Dee.  And vice versa.


So all the best to those of you out there on the dating scene, and also to couples old and new that are toughing it out together in good times and bad.

Thanks for tuning in.

Ten Years Down the Road – Part ONE – The Hobbits Meet and Marry

So I had a number of options for this.  A teeth-itching and overly sweet homage to the many things I Love about Grumpy.  Erm.  Nah.

Then I thought I could do a nice cheesy “Secrets to a successful marriage” thing for you all to read.  Upon reflection, I realized that our marriage is not always a raging success, and what works for us could very well be just the thing that ruins a different couple’s union.  So no, I won’t do that either.

What I will do is tell you how we met, what it is like being a part of team Happy Hobbit, tell you what works for us and why, and then share with you some pictures of our first wedding.  Like these ones!


This is going to take two, possibly three instalments to get through, but if nobody reads the first part (How the Hobbits Met) then perhaps I won’t bore you with further insight into the intimate workings of Hobbity Happily Every After…  We shall see.

On with the story of how we met.

Way back in what our children refer to as “the olden days” or, sometimes also known as “the time before time” I had an amazing job as the sales and marketing manager for a small but mighty ISP.

About this same time, Grumpy was enjoying the momentum of releasing his first successful commercial product, and working on making some new fangled DJ stuff that would revolutionize the music industry (or so I’ve heard it said).

He and I lived and worked in the magical city of Auckland New Zealand.  We shared many of the same interests, even a handful of mutual friends; yet, until one fateful phonecall in 2002, our paths had never crossed (that we know of).

Steve’s good friend and flatmate Blair was interested in starting a web hosting company.  So, being the renowned persnickety geek that he is, he offered to do some research to help Blair source the best possible co-location and hosting solution he could get for his money.

Little did our grumpy protagonist know that this search would lead him not only to a fast, friendly, fully redundant, and exceedingly well priced network; it would also lead him right into the waiting arms of fate and the rest of his life.

I answered the phone, in my usual enthusiastic manner.  After several dozen months of intense training (drinking Guinness with the system administrators and learning about how the Internets work) I had gleaned enough information on “getting the packets through” to hold my own when conversing with potential clients of various technical knowledge and ability.

Steve Hoek was my most formidable challenge to date.  He wanted to know everything from SLA (Service Level Agreements) to uptimes, to latency, to costing, to contracts… Whew.  What a royal pain in the ass he was.  But he was nice, and openly impressed with my knowledge and the non-salesperson approach I took to dealing with him.  I was not pushy and I didn’t make things up, and if he asked a question to which I had no answer, I’d go and call Sneep (the network administrator) and get the answer before responding.

Hmmmm. I wonder if I should mention I kinda had a boyfriend at this point.  Nah, that just makes me sound like a bit of a jerk, and probably make this story extra long and confusing.  (Besides, I always kinda had a boyfriend.)

On with the story.

So the day came for a network tour.

No big deal.  I did these all the time.

Off to the NOC (Network Operation Centre) I went to await the arrival of a potential new co-location customer.

Steve was accompanied by his business partner AJ, and his good friend Blair.

He drove up in an RX7.  I was duly unimpressed, and assumed that this (VERY attractive man) was a total douche.  He had a goatee (yuck, I hate facial hair) and drove a red rocket sports car.  Not at all the stock standard aloof-kindhearted-train-wreck- of-a-man I tended to go for.

I didn’t think much of our meeting.

Steve, on the other hand, was deep in the throws of lust at first sight.

So, he asked me out, I did not disclose the fact I had a boyfriend (in my defense, because I knew that relationship was doomed anyway). And to be fair, he didn’t ask me out, so much as ask me to his flatwarming. And I stood him up, dealing with soon-to-be-ex boyfriend dramas.

Around this time both Steve and I had independently reached the conclusion that relationships weren’t for us. Too much drama, too much stress.

There was much to-ing and fro-ing between us, but long story short, we couldn’t stay away from each other.  I tried to fight the urge to fall into a relationship with this tiny but terrifically toned man.  At this point, I had already laid down the law and told him that no matter where we were heading, there was no point pursuing a relationship with me unless he could accept the fact I DEMANDED children one day.  That chat occurred on our second “official” date.

We’d been dating for a few weeks at this point, but he hadn’t “put out” as it were by then.  A new and strange concept to me entirely.  We spent a great deal of time together, and slept in the same bed frequently either at his place or mine where we would watch movies and chat until the wee small hours of the morning.

His father died on Boxing day 2002, and we had already planned a road trip together for New Years Eve to the mountain as I was going to teach him how to ski.  I was invited to the funeral.  And that, was the day that I fell absolutely, undeniable, irrefutably, completely and eternally in Love with him.  It had been coming on for a while, but seeing how he was with his ex-girlfriends, and his mother that day.  Well, that sealed the deal and both of our fates for eternity.

He read “The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner” for his father who had so loved the sea.

We spent our first road trip away together at The Hobbit motel in Ohakune.  We ate a nice dinner, and the next day I abandoned him completely to figure out on his own how to ski (“make wide turns!”) and headed off on my own to carve up some runs.

A few weeks later in January, he had to go off with his silly little company Serato to a trade-show in Anaheim California to demonstrate a new DJ product he’d been working on for some time.

He came home, got dropped off on my doorstep, and just never left.  He proposed in March, and we were married on January 24th 2004.

And that… is the story of how we met.

Tonight I will type out some details about how I figure it is we’ve weathered our storms and still rather like each other (most of the time) and you may or may not find it helpful.

Thank you so much for tuning in.

Looking forward to sharing more of our story with you soon.

Off to the Science and Technology Museum with our eldest son now.