Alright, lovely readers, let’s start with the #JNGReads quote today and work from there…
“‘…but I mostly date eights or nines…’” – Who Do You Love, Jennifer Weiner
You can probably guess why a quote like this would get me more than a little riled up, but I’ll explain anyway.
This quote comes from Jennifer Weiner’s new novel Who Do You Love. I’ve been reading the novel for quite awhile now, to be honest, but that’s mostly because of time constraints that have been getting in the way of my reading. It’s a pretty good story and I’ve been enjoying it, and I’m happy to say that I’m almost done. A review of the entire novel will be coming soon.
But, naturally, one of the scenes that stuck out to me the most was the one where the quote above comes from. The main female character, Rachel, is forcing herself (or is rather being forced by a friend) to go on a bunch of dates after a break up. And, as you can all surely imagine, it’s no easy task for her, and Mr. Right, Prince Charming himself, isn’t showing up quite as quickly as she would like. She’s having to go on a bunch of very horrendous dates with guys who are just absolutely the worst. The guy who actually says the above quote is one of them – he’s confident (or, more accurately, cocky) enough to tell her that he doesn’t see a future for them because he usually dates women who would be rated a little bit higher on…some scale of what? Attractiveness? Intellect? Flirting Ability? Who knows! The point is that this guy feels it is okay to tell Rachel that he doesn’t want to continue seeing her because she isn’t an eight or nine on whatever scale he’s using.
Now, obviously this sort of thing is highly subjective – we all know that, we’ve all been told that by our friends when a date goes wrong, or we’ve been the ones to tell our friends that to comfort them after a rough break up. Yes, attraction is subjective, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, blah blah blah. My rage doesn’t come from the fact that this guy wasn’t attracted to Rachel (who I find really very endearing and lovely as a character) – it comes from the fact that this guy had the guts to actually say this sort of thing to her face, something so blatantly RUDE!
Weiner does a great job of setting up the scene so that the reader feels as shocked as Rachel, but also as angry and upset about the whole situation. I found myself actually gasping on the bus, making a face and thinking, Who the heck does this guy think he is? How DARE he say that to Rachel? What a complete and total (insert expletive here)! I also found myself thinking that there is no way anyone would seriously say something like that to a person; I just could not bring myself to believe that any person going on a date would be cruel enough to tell someone that they weren’t up to their (probably impossible to reach) standards.
And then, I continued to ponder this and I realized that actually I do know a couple people who may not necessarily say such a thing, but who would absolutely be thinking it. Basically, I think that most of our society, and especially people in my age group, think exactly the same way as this ridiculous guy who insulted Rachel. One of my best friends and I have been talking about this a lot lately – we find that guys in our age range sometimes talk to and treat us differently because we don’t look a certain way. Okay, maybe we’re projecting this belief onto the guys we interact with because obviously we can’t know exactly what they’re thinking, but sometimes it just feels like we’re being treated a little bit more rudely and curtly because we don’t conform to a particular stereotype. For example, I’ve stated this time and time again on the blog, I don’t wear any make up. Now, this probably seems like an insignificant thing, but when you’re going out to a bar with your friends for a birthday celebration and you notice that guys aren’t even paying any attention to you (not that you want them to because, let’s be real, that’s only going to lead to trouble and heartache), it’s hard to convince yourself that they’re not judging you on the fact that you don’t have eyeliner on and haven’t contoured your face in a way that makes your cheekbones look really sexy. I mean, if that is even a thing that women do, because no matter how many beauty tutorials I watch on Youtube, I cannot make myself understand contouring. My friend even said that she has been treated differently by male cashiers than the girls lined up in front of her because she chooses not to wear tight clothing or because she doesn’t address them in a flirtatious manner.
And, I would say that the same thing definitely happens in reverse – young women can be just as mean to guys if they don’t fit into certain physical ideals. I’ve heard girls on subways and buses saying terrible things about guys they’ve interacted with, talking about how this guy doesn’t have a nice enough body, this guy is just too nerdy or geeky, whatever. I want to blame all of this on the “Tinder culture” that has emerged in our society, but Weiner’s scene from Who Do You Love takes place in a time long before Tinder even existed, so apparently these were issues that people have faced throughout the years.
It’s just all so discouraging! I honestly didn’t mean to go on a rant about how mean people can be, but it’s something I think about (and I know my friends think about) every single day. I’m going to the gym in a few hours for my regular workout, and I’m already dreading being surrounded by men AND women who are going to be staring at me while I do my exercises, probably judging either how I’m doing the particular moves, the way my body looks or what I’m wearing. Or all of the above! The main thing is not to let this sort of thing bother you, to not even consider what a person might be saying in their head about you, but these things are always so much easier said than done…and we aren’t all characters in a novel, so these sorts of encounters do have an impact on our self-esteem and confidence in the real world.
Anyway, sorry to rant all over the place! I just couldn’t stop thinking about Rachel’s encounter, and about the fact that I think it’s something that could so easily happen, and that we often allow to happen, in today’s society.
What do you all think? Have you experienced anything like Rachel did? Or is this something you believe is too fictitious to be real?
Girl with a Green Heart