Last week, Amelia posted a fabulous post about the perception of "fatness" and her own bias. If you get a sec, check it out. Anyway, as I was reading it, I was reminded of an article in Time magazine this spring about the last prejudice our society faces in marriage, interfacial relationships....when one spouse (the wife) marries someone much hotter than herself. Anyway, the article is humorous, and spot-on.
Thursday, Apr. 26, 2007
When Your Spouse is Hotter than You
By Belinda Luscombe
Marrying outside your religion is no big deal anymore. Neither is marrying someone of a completely different generation. And now that something like 4% of all marriages are interracial, not even your grandparents will get lathered up if you marry someone of another color. But as the old prohibitions fall away, a new one is rising to take their place. It's a discrimination that's widespread but largely unspoken, causing pain and stress to the affected couples, who often find it hard to talk about, even to each other. I'm talking, of course, about marrying outside your looks. Marrying a few degrees up or down the hotness scale. Refusing to stay within your cute-gory.
I've been in a mixed marriage for a decade and a half now and gotten used to the stares and nudges. I've even developed a couple of airy responses to the inevitable comments that arise from co-workers and friends along the lines of "Um, your husband is so hot..." Sometimes I go with "Oh, that's not my husband--that's my twin brother," and other times a dismissive "Yeah, but back in Australia I'm considered a great beauty. It's Nicole Kidman who's the hag." Each time, it hurts just a little less.
Like so many in my situation, I didn't mean to intermarry. It wasn't that I had ideas above my station; it was just that I was young and naive enough to think love would conquer all. Also, to be perfectly frank, I didn't think he was that hot. That's what makes this type of discrimination particularly insidious: it's not clear that couples have transgressed against hotness-equality laws until they're already married. Nobody minds if you date outside your tribe, and people applaud an ambitious play for the hubba-hubba human across the room, but--as my brothers and sisters in the gay community have found--there's a world of difference between what people will accept in the innocent suburbs of hooking up and the judgmental metropolis of marriage.
As in so many other areas of discrimination, women face double jeopardy. Guys who marry a few rungs up the looks ladder are rock stars or rich or have, I don't know, beautiful penmanship. Women who marry up, well, they're deluded. Their husbands must be gay or have really bad bacne to even look at them. And the standards are ridiculous. Deborra-Lee Furness is a charming, spirited, good-looking woman who happens to be married to Hugh Jackman, a freak of nature. Hence rumors circulate that Jackman is gay. Had there been an Internet in times gone by, they probably would have swirled around Queen Victoria's and Eleanor Roosevelt's husbands as well.
Shockingly few peer-reviewed studies have been done on our type of union. We don't yet have our own box to check on the Census, even though we've been around for years. I'm actually the product of a mixed marriage. My father has an unlined face and thick, curly salt-and-pepper hair in his 70s. My mother--well, let's just say that when she comes to visit, the kids hide the broomstick and the big cooking pot. She tells folks my dad married her for her legs and her fortune. Coincidentally, these are the only two of her attributes she did not pass along to me.
If you suspect that you might be in an interfacial marriage, don't be ashamed. Acceptance is the first step to recovery. Ask yourself these questions: Do you and your spouse disagree on how many mirrors should be in the home, what angle they're placed at and how well they're lit? Do you find yourself taking all the photographs at family gatherings and "forgetting" how to use the self-timer? If your spouse buys you some beauty products, do you take it as a kind of warning? Do you ever encourage your spouse to wear those pants that make him or her look beamy?
These are all challenges that scummy-yummy couples must deal with to survive. And that's before you get to the big questions: Do you raise the children as attractive or hideous? Or try to find a middle ground--you know, sorta cute? Do you celebrate beautiful-people holidays (Valentine's Day, Mardi Gras) or Oktoberfest? Very few mismatched pairs can work through these issues on their own.
What they--who am I kidding, we--desperately need is a celebrity spokescouple, a famous mixed-assortment pair willing to step into the limelight and explain the challenges specific to this unequal yoking. Maybe then people would have a little compassion for those of us who, through no fault of our own, have to wake up every single day to a drop-dead gorgeous human being on the other pillow, for the love of mercy! Donald and Melania Trump, are you reading this? Ric Ocasek and Paulina Porizkova? Sylvester Stallone and Jennifer Flavin? Larry King and whomever you're married to now? Your people need you!
First question: How did you score such a hottie?