Oscar Nite II: Why Can’t A Woman Be More Like A Man
Posted Wed, Mar 17, 2010

Professor Higgins: “Why can’t a woman … be more like a man? Men are so faithful, gracious and nice. Men are so caring, sagacious and polite. So why can’t a woman … be more like a man?”
This is another version of “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus”. Perhaps more chauvinistic and without acknowledging biases, yet trying to understand the differences between the sexes. And yes, there are differences. Perhaps they are due to hormonal influences, perhaps to genetics. Hell, 2 X’s are not equal to an x and a y whether we are talking about algebra or genomic determinants.
My computer guru calls his computers “He”. He says computers are male because they always do what he tells them. And yet might it be that males and females don’t ask the same questions or even see the same question in the same way? Might it be that the color green to a female is not the same color green to a male, or that 3 objects laid side by side representing a gun, a doll, and a baseball evoke different emotional responses in males and females.
Without question this is true of appearance. When a man looks in a mirror he sees a preconceived notion of how he appears, mythical as it might be. When my son was 5 years old he had a plastic vest that transformed him into The Incredible Hulk. One day I watched him don his muscles outfit, then walk in front of a mirror, flex his barely visible biceps and pecs, and roar as only The Hulk could do. Clearly, in his mirror, he was The Hulk. Not uncommonly that is how men see themselves as they prepare to go out for an evening.
By contrast, women prepare for a party by prepping their hair, putting on their fine clothes, maybe some jewelry and finally add a dash of provocative perfume. They go to the event feeling very beautiful and then a photographer asks if he may take a picture. After seeing the picture the party is over. Why is my nose so big or I can’t believe the pimple on my nose. My hair just isn’t right and I look older. Or worst, I look like I am bulging out of my clothes. The beautiful lady of a few hours ago has become Cinderella.
Women are simply more critical of themselves than are men. Both visualize themselves in the mirror or the photograph as they wish to be seen. But men have other attributes that they use to bolster their ego: wealth, muscles, strength, wit. Women still find themselves in the unenviable position of judging themselves by their sexuality. And this leads me back to Oscar night where the female actresses not only stole the show with panache. They did it with self-confidence. They had full figures, strong bodies, healthy demeanors, and intelligence. In my judgment they did not present themselves as sexual aperitifs but rather as healthy examples of beauty and self-worth in their gender. They can avail themselves of breakthroughs in cosmetic wellness without looking grotesque and emaciated. They can go to a cosmetic surgeon for non-invasive or invasive procedures to enhance their appearance without confusing their wish to be attractive (vanity), with narcissism.
In this regard men have a way to go. We still pretend to hunt the saber-toothed tiger and derive our self worth from our manliness. We are still afraid of our emotions and fear our own sense of narcissism when we want to look attractive and be accepted. And yet even here, the world is changing. 20% of men make up the population of people who have major or minor cosmetic improvements. Magazines that promote sensible dress are popular. For this we can take a page from women: healthy appearance begets a healthy response from others. Enhancing what we are given at birth: a musculoskeletal form; a soft round subcutaneous shell; and flexible, elastic, smooth skin is the opposite of narcissism. It is vanity in its finest sense of self-appreciation. We can do this with our knowledge of skin care, our fillers and Botox, our lasers and sometimes our knife. But always with perspective of what is healthy, natural, and long-lived, of what is a healthy life-style.
Next week: Looking at aging mechanistically and how we can modify its effects.

Edward Lack
Edward Lack MD is a board certified dermatologist and a board certified dermatologic cosmetic surgeon. He is President and Medical Director of MetropolitanMD, a multispecialty cosmetic surgery center in Chicago,which is unique in having a double board certified cosmetic dermatologic surgeon, a double board certified facial plastic surgeon, and a double board certified cosmetic plastic surgeon. Dr. Lack is also the Past President of The American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery.

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