Only skin deep

Q: I'm a 22-year-old female, and the older I get, the more often I am ridiculed by straight men for being ugly. Just last night, a man asked me if I was jealous of my pretty friends and if I wished I could look like them. I know I'm unattractive, but I've met wonderful girls who I think are at least as physically unattractive as me who have managed to find someone to love them. I need to know if I should even bother anymore — it's hard to find a job, make friends, and basically just find people who will treat me like a human being. I shower every day, try to dress well, and wear makeup, but none of it seems to help. It appears that my only options are plastic surgery or suicide, and the older I get, the more appealing the latter becomes. And no, I don't have body dysmorphic disorder, I am absolutely sure. —Anonymous

P.S. I can't trust my friends to tell me the truth, because they love me, which either a) clouds their judgment or b) makes them reluctant to hurt my feelings. The only commentary I have to go on comes from people I don't know who feel a need to inform me that I'm ugly. But I'm not sure. Should I send you a picture?

A: You can send me a picture if you like, Anonymous, preferably one taken by the brand-new therapist that you're going to get. Because you may or may not have body dysmorphic disorder, and you may or may not be ugly, and your friends may or may not be shining you on, but you clearly need more help than I can give you in this space. But I'll accept your self-diagnosis and say this much:

Things will get better as you get older. Not your looks, Anonymous, if your looks are truly the problem, but your peers. People are assholes in their 20s, and pouring alcohol into assholes doesn't make 'em stink less. Straight boys raised to believe that women exist for their pleasure will sometimes feel personally affronted by unattractive women, and alcohol makes them feel entitled to comment. But the passage of time makes monsters of us all, Anonymous, and the young, relatively hot straight guys tormenting you today are the bald, paunchy, and if there is a God, burn victims of tomorrow.

So the numbers of guys who can appreciate what you bring to the table — your humanity, your compassion, your ability to love — will grow over time, kiddo, and you may find in middle age what your girlfriends found as young adults. Unless you off yourself in the meantime, Anonymous, in which case you won't be around to watch those cruel, drunken boys deteriorate, wither and die. And why would you want to cheat yourself out of that?

I've been with my husband for two years and married for one. We eloped in June of last year and didn't have any sort of honeymoon. Instead, about a month later, my husband went on an overseas trip with an old college friend. "Bill" is poor and my husband is well-off, so my husband paid Bill's way. I joked at the time about how my husband was going on his honeymoon with Bill. Fast-forward to last week: My husband tells me he is going to a conference in Europe and meeting Bill there. I thought, "OK, no big deal." Well, the day my husband was leaving, I found out that he was spending the first four days with Bill, Bill's fiancee and Bill's sister just hanging out, and that the actual conference didn't start until the end of the week. I didn't say anything before he left, because I was so caught off-guard. Today I went to a therapist who, after hearing all this, asked me if I thought my husband was gay.

We only have sex once a week, because I've forced him to make it an appointment with me. He does not have a sex drive at all: nothing, nada. So my question is, should I dump the therapist or is she on to something? My husband comes back from his trip on Sunday and I'm dying inside. Help! —Really Uncertain

A: Do you really want to stay married to a man who makes you feel this way, RU, even if he is straight?

Q: It's been weeks now since you republished that "canned ham" comment about the aesthetics of women's genitals. The battle of the sexes is creepy enough, Dan, when it's being fought by people who want to fuck each other. At the end of the day, straight and bisexual men and women know that they want what the other side has got. But when lesbians and gay men do it, not only is it cruel and dehumanizing, but it makes Republicans smile. Conservatives already do a fantastic job of making it seem like lesbianism is the ghastly consequence of man-hating; the more gay men keep going on about how much women disgust them, the more it makes them seem like deranged misogynists, rather than sane men who just want to sleep with other men. (Never mind that if misogyny caused gayness, the entire Republican party would be a mad gay orgy.) —Too Sad For A Pseudonym

A: Your points are well taken, TSFAP, and I hear you. Hell, I agree with you; I frequently tear into faggots who play up their disgust with female genitals in a misguided attempt to justify their gayness. But my comparison of female genitals to canned hams dropped from great heights wasn't grounded in disgust, TSFAP, so much as it was unfamiliarity. And, hey, I deserve some credit for comparing women's genitals to something I will put in my mouth. Ham? Love it! Baked or canned, dropped from a great height or grilled to perfection — can't get enough! It would have been infinitely ruder of me to compare women's genitals to something I would never, ever put in my mouth, something like ... uh ... women's genitals.

And, excuse me, but haven't you been paying attention? The entire Republican party is a mad gay orgy. Brace yourself, TSFAP!

So, Dan, I agree that men in their 30s and 40s who "date" legal teenage boys have a good chance of being scummy. But what about men who make no bones about just wanting some of that sweet twink ass and are honest with their just-out-of-high-school playmates? Is the 40ish man who says, "I am not in love with you. I might think you're cool. I do think you're hot. Let's fuck!" a refreshingly honest learning opportunity for a barely legal boy just out on his own? Or does the inherent power imbalance mean all older guys are self-deluding scumbags? —Thirtysomething Realizes Oldsters Lack Luster

A: The campsite rule applies here: So long as older persons leave younger persons in better shape than they found them, it's all good. And emphasizing to a young, horny, potentially love-struck teenager that, while there may be a mutual attraction, love isn't in the cards is one way an older person honors the campsite rule. But, as I wrote last week, since almost all older men willing to sleep with teenagers — gay or straight — are total scumbags, the older person should be regarded as scum until proven otherwise.

Download Savage Lovecast (my weekly podcast) every Tuesday at

About The Author

Dan Savage

Dan Savage is a sex-advice columnist, podcaster, and author, and has appeared on numerous television shows. His sex advice column “Savage Love” first appeared in The Stranger, Seattle’s alternative weekly, in 1991. The column is now syndicated across the United States and Canada. He has published six books...
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