First published in The Washington Times.
I recently read an article about the uproar over a photo in September's issue of Glamour magazine.
The photo shows a pretty woman sitting demurely on the edge of a bathtub with her arm across her chest and a big smile on her face.
Oh, and she looks like she's nekkid.
I couldn't guess the cause of the uproar over a photo of a happy nekkid woman, so I started reading the article. It said that female readers have been flooding Glamour's editor with e-mails and letters to thank the magazine for finally showing a model who looks like a "real" woman.
A model who appears to be OK with her body.
A model who has a little belly fat.
Belly fat? What belly fat?
Honestly, I missed that the first time I saw the photo. Probably because the model has a big smile on her face -- and looks like she's nekkid.
On closer inspection, I spotted it -- a thin fold of excess flesh visible at her waistline.
"That's fat? " I said out loud. "That just looks like a tired muscle!"
I mean, if the model had been a guy, she would've been considered buff.
The fact that I didn't notice her "belly fat" shows that guys like me don't care about those things when it comes to the female form. Especially when the female form has a big smile on her face and looks like she's nekkid.
But women's magazines persist in using models who bear no resemblance to reality.
A female colleague tells me that women's magazines are always telling their readers what's wrong with them.
"They make us feel bad about ourselves and then they offer 'new' ways to fix us," she says. "It makes us crazy."
Guys wouldn't take that. If a magazine kept telling us what's wrong with us, a group of guys eventually would get together, go to the magazine's headquarters and trash the place. Either that or they'd just stop buying the magazine.
We don't need a magazine to tell us what's wrong with us. That's your job.
As the father of a 21-year-old daughter, I have to say, "Don't believe the articles you read in women's magazines."
And as the father of a 17-year-old son, I have to say, "Don't believe the pictures you see in women's magazines."
There isn't an intelligent male over the age of 19 who believes any of those pictures are real.
In fact, because of air brushing, Photoshop and computer-generated imaging, we routinely suspect that about a third of the models presented to us as the exemplars of feminine beauty are actually dudes.
Disturbingly good-looking dudes, mind you. But still, dudes.
The fact is that most guys like the shaplier, curvier form of so-called "average" women.
That's because "average" women don't look like they'd snap like a dry twig if guys tried to cuddle with them. "Average" women don't look like they'd have to abandon their hunger strike if guys asked them out to dinner.
"Average" women look like they enjoy themselves -- and guys like that look. A lot.
So how is it that most "average" women wear clothes that fall somewhere between a size 10 and a size 16, but models who wear clothes in that range are called "plus size?"
Shouldn't the models who wear smaller sizes be called "minus size?" They are the ones who aren't normal.
And what is a size 0? How can any human being possibly be a size 0?
Zero denotes the absence of number. It represents nothing.
A stick-figure drawing of a woman is bigger than a size 0.
A string of spaghetti is bigger than a size 0.
I have used toothpicks that were bigger than a size 0.
Of course, guys don't have this particular size problem. Most of us traded in our six-pack abs for a keg years ago.
Society doesn't put the same physical expectations on us. Instead, society makes us base our self worth on our ability to win bread, bring home the bacon and put food on the table.
Basically, society wants us to be caterers. But most of us can't cook.
And with all that bread, bacon and food on the table, we're bound to put on some pounds.
We know we aren't much to look at. Even in peak condition, the male physique is kinda lumpy and/or stringy.
We are hairy. We are smelly. We have questionable taste in humor (baked beans, anyone?). We like things that explode.
Not the qualities on which you would want to build a civilization. And yet ...
We are amazed that you frequently admit to liking us because, to tell the truth, we sometimes disgust ourselves.
Yes, we like looking at you and the truth is we like what we see. But there are other things about you that we admire. Brains, for instance. Smart is sexy and often quite handy.
And a good sense of humor goes a long way. Because if you're around us long enough, we're bound to do or say something stupid -- and your ability to laugh about it does a lot of good for us and yourself.
It looks like Glamour is beginning to realize these things. It's planning a full photo spread of "plus size" models for an upcoming issue.
So, ladies, remember that you are beautiful. Love your bodies the way they are.