Ever look back on your youth and realize what a misguided asshat you were? Recall memories that make you inwardly cringe? That’s pretty much how I feel about my entire 20s and 30s when it comes to men. Men I was romantically involved with, that is. I had tons of male friends who all thought I was cool beans; it was when I fell for a man that I became this f*cked-up Stepford, or Chameleon Barbie. You know Chameleon Barbie—she’s the girl who transforms into whatever she thinks her guy wants. The one who doesn’t have an opinion of her own or hobbies unless they’re the same as her love interest.
Yes, I am embarrassed to admit this was me. I attribute it to never having been involved in sports. I always hear how girls who participate in sports have more self-confidence, and they’re so busy with sports that whenever they get asked out by a boy they tell them to “Talk to the hand,” instead. I should have told more guys to talk to the hand, but I was too busy getting my nails done so my hands would look pretty for men.
I don’t know why I felt like I had to change who I was just to impress a man. I suppose I thought he wouldn’t like the real me. The trouble was the person he’d see wasn’t the real me, either. For instance, when I found out my college boyfriend had cheated on me I got it in my mind that what he really wanted was a California “model-type.” So I went out and spent over $300 on clothes I thought he would like—short skirts, skimpy tops, heels, and proceeded to wear them on all our dates (please don’t ask why I still dated him after he cheated on me—that’s a topic for another post). I wore each outfit exactly one time. I had to cash savings bonds to pay for the clothes. Why I thought I had to look like Bimbo Barbie to attract him, I’ll never know. I just thought that if he had cheated on me, he must have wanted something else.
Then there was the guy I dated in Washington D.C. who was involved in politics. The one who always seemed surprised when I said something intelligent or came out with a big word. “You know, you’re really smart,” he’d say, as if he couldn’t believe anyone who looked like me could actually put sentences together. So what did I do to impress him? I ordered a subscription to the New York Times and read it EVERY day. Didn’t matter that I couldn’t give a rat’s ass about politics, the fact that I had the paper when he visited me scored me major points as Political Barbie.
Shall I go on? I became the greatest Svengali of all with my son’s father. When we first got together, I honed in on the fact that he was without family and undernourished. So I became Caretaker Barbie, even though I hate to cook. I stocked my fridge with food to fatten him up and I cooked him dinner each and every night, proving to him that I was a nurturing female who would make everything better. Erase all those bad childhood memories and take care of him like his mother never did.
And I had the nerve to bitch years later that he never did anything for me.
Why, oh why do some women do this? Try to be something they’re not simply to impress a man? Men wonder why women change after marriage. Well, if they’re putting on a façade, I would imagine after many years it’s too exhausting to keep up. Case in point—you won’t see me walking around outside in skimpy clothing and heels, I will not engage you in a political debate, and I sure as hell don’t cook dinner every night, not even for my son.
There needs to be a balance between pleasing another while not losing oneself completely. It’s not good to become Submissive Barbie and “take it” like Anastasia in Fifty Shades of Grey if it makes you uncomfortable; nor is telling your love, “Get your ass up and grab it yourself,” when he timidly asks you to pass the salt. No one wants to be around Bitchy Barbie, either.