First off, we all know how annoying it is to have condescending men chime in about a female's appearance. Not everything women do is for male attention, and being told "you're prettier when you smile" or even "you're beautiful without makeup" is sometimes eye-roll inducing.
That said, a post on the AskWomen subreddit got a lot of attention after a man answered a woman's question on being pretty. You might ask yourself, what could he possibly know about being a woman and feeling self-conscious, but he broke things down in a way everyone immediately related to.
The woman, who has since deleted her Reddit account, asks:
"I am not pretty, and I never will be. I can wear make up, do my hair, wear a lovely dress and heels and I'll never look like a 9/10. I know it shouldn't bother me but it does- I want to be beautiful, and I get so jealous that these other girls are born pretty.
"How do you deal with not being attractive to most men? How do you accept how you look and learn to love yourself regardless? I've always hated myself because of it and I feel like this is wrong because I'm a good person, so why should it matter?
"I blame everything on my looks- she doesn't like me because I'm ugly, I wasn't invited because I'm ugly, that person walking past me sniggered because I'm ugly etc etc."
It's a feeling we've all been through at some point. It's hard to see it written out, knowing exactly what that deep dispair feels like, and that nothing anyone can say will make it better.
That's when Reddit user SavageHenry0311 came in with some great wisdom:
"I'm not "mansplaining" or trying to discount how you feel - I'm offering a perspective that might help. Believe me - I know what it's like to dislike your body. I got zapped in Iraq and I've got some unsightly scars, and I sometimes struggle to accept that I'll never be as physically capable as I used to be. F***ing sucks sometimes.
He began. The fact that he knows his opinion might not immediately be appreciated is the first sign that he's really aware of how personal this discussion is. He only gets better.
Anyway...I wish I could let you into a man's head as he's falling in love with a woman. It's a process that's so alien, so strange, that I'm afraid you've got to experience it to believe it. But it's as real as death and taxes....
Sometimes, a guy will meet a gal and think nothing of it. Maybe she's a co-worker, classmate, or his buddy's friend. She gets mentally categorized as "Female, acquaintance, feelings neutral". Then, he gets to know her better. If they mesh personality-wise, something fascinating happens in the man's mind. He starts to notice things about her appearance - pleasant things. It starts small - one day he realizes he likes looking at the curve of her nose, or where her ear lobe meets her face.
It's nothing he can put his finger on or describe, really...just that looking at that part of her makes him feel good. He starts wanting to do that more. Then, he notices an expression she makes - could be her genuine belly-laugh, or the way she furrows her brow in concern - and he gets a little flutter in his chest.
They stay friendly for awhile, get to know each other better.
Then, one day, she hugs him goodbye....and he can't stop thinking about it. He plays it over and over in his head - the feel of her breasts through two shirts, her arms around his back, her smell...he finds these little mental movies of her playing unbidden when he's driving somewhere, squeezing out his other usual daydreams.
Shortly thereafter, the guy realizes that whenever he looks at this woman, he feels good. He likes her lines, her curves, her sounds and smells...
It's like she's gradually turned from a black-and-white photo into a 3D color movie with surround-sound - a perfect movie that makes him feel good. He starts wondering what he can do to keep her around, to make her happy. He realizes that he likes looking at her more than any other human being in the world.
To him, she is perfect and beautiful.
A man in love with a woman doesn't see her objectively. There is a filter there, or some kind of participatory illusion. He does not see who you see in the mirror. He is seeing someone beautiful and perfect and sublime, and it's one of the most powerful things in his life.
Go watch a happy old couple that's been married for decades. Watch the man's eyes. Sure, he may appreciate some young woman's ass in yoga pants or whatever...but watch his eyes when he's looking at his spouse. If you're paying close enough attention, you can almost see the filter click on when his gaze settles on her. In that moment, he's not seeing the same frumpy empty-nester that you or I see - he's seeing something wonderful.
The upvotes came pouring in, with many users expressing gratitude for his comment. Others quickly affirmed what he said, telling stories of how they met their spouse and how they still feel that way.
One user said this about her husband:
I want to tell you that I've been with my SO for 19 years and he always says that I'm beautiful. I know that I am not (he gets upset when I call him a sweet liar), but now I understand that that doesn't matter. He believes it and that's all that matters. I don't think I ever really got that before. He believes I am beautiful. Wow. Thanks for that.
Love is so powerful, and almost all of us have felt it at one time or another. How easy it is to forget that we look at people without a critical eye and that means others can view us the same way.
With so many pressures on men and women alike, it's important to remember that love binds us together.