My family went to the same boardwalk restaurant every family vacation. Usually it was a lot of fun, but one time it was completely humiliating. My dad spent the entire meal making inappropriate comments about women in front of his young kids and his wife.
As one woman walked by, my dad looked at us and said, “Wow, there isn’t enough fabric in the world to cover all of that! She shouldn’t even come to the beach, no one wants to see that.”
I felt awful about his comments. I also noticed the woman he pointed out was probably about the same size as my mom. I looked over at her and could tell how embarrassed she was.
Only moments later a really voluptuous woman walked by. My dad saw her and just had to say whatever was on his mind. He turned to all of us at the table and blurted out, “Look at the rack on that one!” I didn’t even know what that meant at the time, but I knew it wasn’t innocent.
This went on for the whole lunch. My mom just sat there mortified and did not say a word about what my dad was saying. My sister and I were quiet too. My brother was laughing and encouraging it. He wasn’t even a teenager yet, but this is what he thought ‘men’ talked about. I never liked this behavior, but I grew up thinking it was normal, especially since my mom never told me otherwise.
Spending nearly my entire life hearing about what guys like and hate about women’s bodies had a huge impact on my self-confidence. I thought all that mattered to men were looks, so I grew extremely self-conscious. When I met my husband, I figured that was all he was thinking about. I thought he was looking at me and thinking about what my cup size was, how I have no butt, how I have chicken legs, or was wondering what I would look like when I got older.
The first time my husband met my father showed me how different this guy was from my dad. My now husband came to me after he had spent the day with my dad, and all he could say was, “Your dad is a pig! I can’t believe the way he talks about your mom and other women!”
Maybe for some people it would be upsetting to hear your boyfriend call your dad a pig, but for me it was reassuring. The fact that my husband found my dad’s behavior repulsive showed me that he was not like my dad—that he did respect women. That this behavior wasn’t normal, that not all guys were like this.
He had already given me every reason to trust him, so I started to believe what he was telling me: that I am beautiful and that he does loves me, not just my body. He still tells me how much he loves my personality, the jokes I crack, the way I scream-sing in the car with him, how I cheat during board games, and how I love him more than anything. He is and has always been very affectionate, sweet, and respectful to me in private and in public.
Since meeting my husband I have met other genuinely nice men, who treat women with kindness and respect. He has restored my faith in men; what’s more, I know our daughter will have the positive male role model I never had. Since the first man she will know and love is my husband, I have full confidence that she will know her worth and how she should be treated.