In “real life” work as a messenger; I deliver documents to “important” people who work for “important” businesses. Yesterday, I walked into Building X. I deliver there often and the guy at the front desk knows my first name and jokes around with me.
I had a number of packages, so I let two girls pass ahead of me in line. They were both mid-twenties, wearing summer dresses with leggings and heels, and their hair and makeup were flawless. As they signed in to visit their mom’s office, a 70-ish man in a gray suit with a bad comb-over made a b-line for the desk. I was totally unprepared for what came out of his mouth, “Excuse me for saying so girls, but I must attribute the beautiful sunshine today to your presence. Clearly, you just light up the world with your beauty.”
They giggled. I rolled my eyes.
Ok, so the old dude was cheesy, and the women were a little flattered – innocent enough, right? No, because what happened next brought me to the verge of septuagenarian smack down. The guy kept going, and did not stop:
“Where are you ladies headed? You know, there are free drinks on the 11th floor. I haven’t seen such fine young things in quite a while. Hey, little girls want some candy? [insert crepper laugh here]”
The girls giggled again, kinda nervously, took their guest passes and left. I was fuming. It’s borderline acceptable to give a corny compliment to a much younger woman, but this guy brought it to super sketchy sexual harassment level. I wanted to shower after just witnessing it all.
Then I started to wonder why the situation made me so angry and uncomfortable. Was it just the level of inappropriateness and the implied sexual advance of the old guy, or was there something more personal going on?
Mostly, I was outraged that he so clearly saw the girls as nothing more than objects – that he really wasn’t commenting on their smiles, or outfits, or poise, but on the “pretty young things” that he wanted to possess. But, there was also a part of me that was oddly jealous…
I was the only other person in the lobby line, standing directly behind these girls, and I was completely ignored. It’s such an hypocritical thing to be outraged by someone’s actions, yet be hurt that they weren’t toward you. Standing next to these pretty peers I felt completely invisible. I felt over-weight, under-dressed, and worthless. Yuck!
Why, as a female do I constantly judge myself against other women? And more troubling still, why do I judge myself by other people’s reactions and responses toward other women? I am not a supermodel. I accept that men will not pine over me the way they do over women in fashion magazines. But, these girls were not models, and for me that’s always harder – comparing myself to my peers, who fit the social standard of beauty more than I do.
If I talk such a strong game against conforming toward the industry standard of beauty, why does it bother me so much that I am not noticed? Isn’t that what I’m going for after all?
I have no answers.
Please comment. I’m really interested to hear thoughts, experiences, and advice from other ladies.