We recently re-watched (everyone should) a comedy series called Hebburn. In the last episode of Series 1 the family is going to a church blessing for their son and his wife, who previously had got married in a wild moment in Las Vegas without them. Mother asks father how she looks; he tells her she looks beautiful; she says he hasn't looked (true: he is feeling unwell and about to have a mild stroke); he (crafty beggar, even in crisis) says he doesn't need to; she accepts the compliment; and so she should. Is it just me, or does your true love become more a feeling, a numinous presence, rather than something to be critically, objectively observed? When will women understand? Maybe it's just the continuing need to be reassured that the dynamic relationship that is love is still crackling with energy.
For women, the self-dissatisfaction includes the clothing of the frame in flesh, too. January is another time for the effort to lose weight and become bikini-ready by summer. It seems married isn't good enough; one has to be forever nubile, permanently in that neotenic in-between stage, like axolotls. Yet reason breaks through sometimes: my wife's friend, in a new relationship this year, said she'd been putting on weight and didn't care; my wife told her it was contentment.
It looks as though men like contented women, and always have. Only three months ago, an 8,000-year-old female figurine was unearthed in Turkey:
Of course, in places and at times when food was chronically scarce, this shape would imply wealth, social standing and the body-stored ability to survive periods of privation. Now that we Westerners have no fear of famine, we can afford to leave our supplies of food in our cupboards and shops.
But still - consistent with health, what's a pound or two between lovers?
Maybe we men should do more reassuring. I knew it would be our fault, somehow.