The Truth About Cats and Dogs

essay by Melpomene Whitehead

I'm a cute girl, I readily admit it. I'm not beautiful. In fact, I vacillate between thinking I'm OK and freakishly ugly. But I'm cute. There's almost no escaping this. I have features that, when put together, one must call cute. Big eyes, full lips, small chin, curly hair, little feet, delicate hands--I'm very Boop-like in appearance. (I'd run a photo, but, for reasons that may be explored in another essay, my roommate, who takes photos of everything, takes no photos of me. I have my theories). I have a job, and a life, opinions, smarts, like to go out and do things... yet men are not knocking down my door to go out with me. Why? Some of you (well, one of you) might say it's my bad attitude (hey! some guys dig that!), but I blame the media.

Wait! Hear me out! Let's look at Janeane Garofalo. Tremendously funny comedian. At some point she started turning up in a bunch of romantic comedies like The Truth About Cats and Dogs and The Matchmaker. The Matchmaker was just dull, so let's not get into that. But Cats and Dogs? That movie was offensive. The plot is this: Garofalo is a radio personality, she goes to meet this guy who knows her voice, and she brings her best friend Thurman with her. Of course, said man falls for Uma, but thinks she's Janeane. Hijinx ensue. The basic message of the movie is this: it takes two spectacular women to satisfy one mediocre man.

Ok, how about tv? A fat man who is only moderately funny and a huge loser (he works as a store manager) dates women of model caliber (Drew Carey--I don't know his character's name.). A fat, bald man who is unemployed dates only beautiful women (George Costanza, played by Jason Alexander). Then there's that puffy red-headed kid on the Circuit City commercial (the commercial is loosely based on the computer game The Sims) going out with that drop-dead gorgeous dark-skinned chick. I could name more, but I don't watch enough tv. In tv terms, I'd have to date Cleetus the Slack-Jawed Yokel from The Simpsons. In tv terms, I'm probably not even good enough to date the slacker dude from The Lone Gunmen (although having played alot of D&D gives me an edge over the more beautiful competition).

So, what happens is this: men who should normally be glad to be dating women like me are sitting around waiting for Veronica Webb and Jennifer Lopez to take them to dinner. And they'll be waiting a long time. Face it, boys, you look like those women and you ain't dating some guy who codes all day and thinks that new apps for the palm pilot is a good topic of discussion.

No, the real truth about cats and dogs is this: men get cut some slack, women don't. The standards of beauty for men are pretty extreme. You can be pretty like Leonardo DiCaprio, old like Sean Connery, wide like Mark Walberg. You can have craggy skin, grey or no hair, you can be skinny or fat. A big nose doesn't detract from your looks, scars enhance it. Don't email me about different standards of beauty for different cultures, I already know that some guys dig thick women, but not thick women with scars, or thick women who are bald. Or, god forbid, thick women who are old. (also, please don't email me how you'd go out with Janeane Garofalo. The woman is fucking gorgeous, and still most of you think you'd be slumming. You'd be thinking, oh, she's funny, and she must be a really nice person, which we all know are stand-ins for "she's not beautiful." Meanwhile, the ugly and unfunny Ben Stiller gets to bang the chick from "Clueless." If there were any justice in the world we'd all know that Janeane was too good for Stiller. But, only a few of us actually know that. I hope she's one of them. Of course, the cruel irony of this whole thing is this: why am I ruminating about this? Why does beauty matter so much? Does anyone care what Bill Clinton looks like when he leaves the house? No! Yet Hillary is held up to all sorts of ridiculous scrutiny involving her make-up or lack thereof, her clothes, her hair, as is poor poor Chelsea. Did people ever comment on how goofy Ronald Reagan Jr. looked? No! They gave the guy a talk show! grr...)


Copyright (c) 2001 Melpomene Whitehead