In Part One of this series I talked about what makes someone genuinely attractive and also about not taking out our insecurities on our more slender sisters. But this leaves us with the question: “If it doesn’t start with them, then who is to blame?” Who’s to blame for the pressure we feel to submit to a narrow definition of beauty that is unattainable for most of us?

I’m afraid that most women, if asked this question, would turn and point the finger directly at the opposite sex. It’s got to be the fault of men, right? After all, they’re the ones ogling super models, Playboy Bunnies, professional cheerleaders and actresses. Obviously it’s their obsession with this narrow concept what is attractive that is pushing the rest of us to extremes when it comes to our bodies, right? Except, wait, a typical super model body is quite different from that of a Playboy Bunny. Kate Moss is a completely different shape from Pamela Anderson. For that matter, both of them are a different shape from Kate Winslet or Megan Fox. But even if they were all the same, now that I’m thinking about it, women ogle male models, actors and musicians (purrrrr). But I wouldn’t say that those guys encompass the full range of what I’m attracted to, nor would I expect a man to assume that just because his specific type isn’t represented among those three, that automatically excludes him. So if we want to blame guys for making us feel insecure because of who they seem to drool over, we are just as much to blame for any insecurities men may feel because of who we drool over. And one only has to look at the all too common stereotype of the middle-aged man with the sports car and the toupée, out there jogging himself to the brink of a coronary every morning to know that men feel insecure about their image as much as we do.

And while we’re on the subject, let’s stop and think about this for a minute. Do you really want to be in a relationship with a guy who has so little imagination that when he thinks about the kind of woman he wants to be with, he has to think in terms of media figures? Do you want to be with the guy who fantasizes about Angelina Jolie, or do you want to be with the guy who fantasizes about meeting a real woman at the book store up the street? So even if there are a lot of men out there caught up in these narrow ideas of beauty and attraction which are defined by the media they consume, why are we letting such boring guys control how we think? We can do better than them, anyway.

Are there going to be some men who aren’t attracted to your particular shape, whatever it may be? Absolutely. Does that mean that men in general are not attracted to you because of your shape? Absolutely not! Don’t start rallying your excuses… If you’ve gone out and not been hit on, if you’ve never had a boyfriend, if you’ve always just been the friend while the guys you liked went after your girlfriends, I can promise you it had a lot more to do with your attitude, than with some narrow, universal taste in women that all men have into which you don’t fit. To quote Gerard Butler’s character (one of the actors I ogle) from The Ugly Truth, “If you don’t want to have sex with you, why should anyone else?” ‘Nough said.

So it’s not men. Then who? Because now we not only have someone telling us what we’re supposed to look like, it also seems that same someone is telling us to blame men for it. An obvious diversion tactic, if ever there was one, no? At this point, I’ll admit that I was a little stumped, but it didn’t take me too long to uncover the culprit. And what I found made me frustrated and uncomfortable, which may be a big part of why we have so much trouble admitting that it is true and doing something about it.

Really there is only one voice it could be; the voice I wait anxiously for every month, the voice telling me what’s in, what’s out, what’s now, what celebrities are wearing, and as it suddenly seemed, also the voice telling me that my body is not good enough, giving me tips on how to fit into bathing suits and skinny jeans, and then to top it all off, advising me about what men want and leaving me with the distinct impression that it is not me. It was the voice of my fashion magazines (and other forms of “female media”).

What a betrayal, all this time I had trusted these sources to give me the answers to my problems not to create them in the first place! I listened carefully and followed obediently, never realizing that these “problems” were created and fed to me to keep me hooked (and paying for more magazines) and aren’t, in fact, problems at all!

As the realization of this conflict of interest becomes apparent, one cannot help but let one’s jaw drop to the floor. We look to these magazines, websites, commercials, and so on for help and advice and the truth is they are sentencing us to a lifetime of dissatisfaction. They have us blocked on all sides and they get us so young that we fail to see the hypocrisies and the lies. They tell us we are beautiful just the way we are, but offer constant advice for dieting and weight loss. They tell us how to be what men want, and then tell us that if men want us we are being objectified. They teach us how to hate ourselves so that we become dependent, because if we are happy, if we are confident, if we learn to enjoy our shape and let others enjoy it too – we won’t care what they think anymore!