Tag Archives: beauty

The Pretty Women Passing By, Gazelles and Lions


I love women. I love a very specific woman, who I will marry in a few months, but in general I do still love women. I think the desire response is much deeper in the animal brain than we give it credit for. I don’t have a wandering eye, but I do appreciate a healthy body. And the healthier I become, the more I am even fascinated by my own body.

We are animals. We are programmed to look. In the beginning, we were looking for our mama, for milk. Then we progressed to looking for a mate. As humans, after we’ve had our offspring, we are looking more for pleasure. Granted there are plenty of men and women who are still looking for opportunity, but that’s a different urge all together.

I call them gazelles. The beautiful woman who jog by on the running trail. People watching. That’s a fun thing, right? What are we looking at? I can tell you I’m spending an inordinate amount of time on the women. And I can also tell you I have a preference for what excites me. And all this is hard-wired into my animal system. I’m not looking for a mate, I’m not even looking for a playmate, but I’m looking nonetheless.

What is it about beauty that fascinates us all so? On the running trail, I’d guess most women are also admiring the women more than the men. So we’re voyeurs. We like to look. People watching is a thing that both sexes enjoy. And again, I’m curious, what are we watching exactly?

I’m guessing that the sexual nature of our voyeurism is quite high. I notice hips, breasts, hair and eye color, of the passing women. And some I am instantly attracted to, others I’m not. And it’s an entire range of responses. I can see something beautiful in most women that walk by, but there are particular ones that charge me up. What is it?


I think that’s the main thing I see when I am attracted to someone along the running trail. Yes, some of the physical characteristics have to be in place, but once we have an apples-to-apples situation, the JOYFUL women are most intriguing to me. I was wondering about this the other day in the grocery store. The whole thing where women get angry when men ask them to smile. I get that. We don’t want to be on display or observed in most of our daily experience. But if a woman (or man) is truly joyful something of that happiness comes through to those around them.

I also think we see joy as love. Joy breeds more joy, so why wouldn’t we want to be with another joyful person. And as a joyful person myself, how could I be happy with someone who was innately sour? Let’s not always make this about my ex-wife, but I’d have to say that her disposition is much less optimistic and open than mine. I never asked her to smile, but I often wondered where the scowl came from. Today, I suppose the scowl comes from me. I’m the cause of much of her wounding in the world, at least that’s what I project onto her angry face. But perhaps she’s just fundamentally unhappy. There are those people.

Let’s lean into love and joy. Let’s move away from those people who are constrained by their own unhappiness. And as we move through the world we can celebrate our joy by sharing it. I don’t think of my glowing smile as a challenge so much as a “hello, how are you, I hope you are happy too,” type greeting. I know it’s often misconstrued as a come-on, but it’s really just about sharing joy.

The gazelles on the trail are fun to look at. More fun when you can see their inner joy. I am tempted to race after them. But as a wizened old lion, what would I do with them if I caught them? Devour their beauty and youth? Pray on their innocence? No, I’d rather just admire their joyful gate as they bound by, young, beautiful, and happy.

I’m no longer in the hunt. My joy is settled and content in my new relationship. But my joy is also meant to be spread. I won’t ever make the mistake of asking a woman to smile, but I might smile at them from my own place of inner joy. To some that’s a challenge and something to be angry about. To others it’s an invitation to share some of my joy.

Life is good. If you are joyful and you show it people notice. By sharing your joy you are spreading the love between you and others. Gazelles and lions can live in peace as human adults.

Always Love,

John McElhenney

image: old lion, creative commons usage

The Playboy Effect: Obsessed with Youth and Fitness


Back in the day before the internet, Playboy Magazine was a head-rush for the imagination of curious little boys. Finding a Playboy Magazine somewhere was like a high that lasted for lustful days, depending on your imagination and usage. But needless to say, it was the gateway drug for things to come in out sexual futures.

But of course Playboy Magazine offered a very top-heavy, warped version of attainable beauty and theoretical romance. Yes those beautiful women existed, you could see they were real in the pictures. (This was before Photoshop.) And some of us as young men got stuck there with the Playboy bunny as the ideal female. Um, WRONG. But it was difficult to get the images out of our heads when comparing what we saw and imagined in Playboy and reality. Rarely was there a woman in our sphere, much less interested in us, who could fulfill our reinforced and revisioned fantasy of a sexy and beautiful woman.

Jump cut to today, and there are some concerns that the free access to pornography is corrupting our minds and our expectations of sexual fulfillment. Often the pornography is sublimating the actual pursuit of a real “flesh and blood” relationship. As in the movie Don Juan, how can Scarlett Johannsen even come close to the raw punch of full-on punch of 19-year-olds ready for action. All action. And always ready.

That’s not the way the world works. And even as an adult I know my early experience with Playboy Magazine has had a lingering effect on my sexual preferences. And the current mainstream media obsession with rail thin 19-year-old goddesses is way out of hand and off the map of reality. Unfortunately even my 11 year old daughter is considering dieting because of the images she sees in her pre-teen magazines. It’s gross, what we’ve done to objectify women’s sexual bodies, and how far we have distorted those images. It is much the same way Playboy set an unrealistic body type that was accompanied by breast-waist-hip measurements.

If a woman I was interested in really wanted a six-packed 30-year-old I would have little chance of attracting her. And it is physically impossible for me to get back to the fitness and beauty of my youth. GOOD. I don’t have to worry about that.

Not even trying to contemplate the drugged death spiral that must accompany a young boys exposure to online pornography, I am aware that my vision is still clouded, my reality is still framed, and beauty is still judged by the media’s representation of beauty today.

When I see the 20, 30, or 40-something yoga goddess in LuluLemons, I get an immediate hit of dopamine. But it’s not real. It’s about as real as the foldout in Playboy.

The lie of this fiction and obsession with youth=beauty is that produces a false sense of desirability from us males. At the base of our brains we are animals, and we are looking for the best, healthiest opportunity to further our genes by procreating with the attractive female. And a freshly minted, athletic, woman is entering the peak of her child-bearing attractiveness, according to our reptilian brains. She is IT.

But she’s really not IT for me. And I’m working to understand and parse out the reality from the pornography that still runs through my mind from time to time. Stay with me for a second while I take this a step further to exemplify a point. My 11-year-old daughter is beautiful and perfect. She’s athletic. She loves brightly colored fitness clothes. In some ways she’s a mini-version of these older generations of beautiful young women. But she’s not at all sexual to me. And that’s the connection I am trying to make in my brain about these media images, and passers-by who are amazingly youthful and beautiful. Youth and beauty are great things. They keep our species going.

I am not interested in procreating any more, nor having a relationship with a 20, 30, or “early” 40-year-old. I’m sure there could be exceptions in the last category that could show up and make a convincing case, but in general, I am more interested in women within a 5-year range of my own age. And when you take the yoga babe standard to the early 50’s you are really talking about a rare breed. I’d love to meet her, but I’ve sort of moved on. In fact I’m a bit suspicious about the ultra-fit, ultra-hot women at my age.

So my attempt to reconnect with myself and my more age-desired vision of beauty has changed dramatically from my Playboy-hazed youth. And as I try to decouple my image of beauty from the mass media obsession I look to find beauty in women all shapes and more within the realistic construct of my own fitness. If a woman I was interested in really wanted a six-packed 30-year-old I would have little chance of attracting her. And it is physically impossible for me to get back to the fitness and beauty of my youth. GOOD. I don’t have to worry about that.

Happiness is fleeting. Hang on to it. Youth and fitness are fleeting too. First you’ve got to get comfortable with yourself.

Today, for myself, I am much more interested in fitness in terms of health, blood pressure, and what it feels like to be in my skin. When I’m over weight I feel it. When I’m in a more trimmed state I feel better, and I know my health is better. So I’m not doing crunches to try and attract the younger babe. I am exercising and eating better to be a more self-satisfied version of myself. And I suspect as I further decouple from the stacked deck of the Playboy bunny I will get even more interested in a woman of my own age who is a bit more realistic in her fitness and happiness ambitions as well.

Happiness is fleeting. Hang on to it. Youth and fitness are fleeting too. First you’ve got to get comfortable with yourself. Then you can start examining and reconstructing what YOU see as beautiful. Real-world beauty untouched by Photoshop.

Always Love,

John McElhenney

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