Register here

Register using an email address

Terms & Conditions

Already have an account? Login here

Register using a social network


Login using your email address

Keep me logged in
Forgot your password?

Login using a social network


Read Letter

Endo Meso Ecto

Dear Jack, I am not a fan of William H. Sheldon’s work. Not sure you’ll know him though. He created the field of somatotype and constitutional psychology. The discipline tries to correlate body types with behavior, intelligence and social hierarchy.

Sheldon classified people into three fundamental categories: endomorphic, mesomorphic, and ectomorphic. Endomorphic: having a heavy rounded body build often with a marked tendency to become fat. Mesomorphic: characterized by large bones, solid torso, moderate fat levels and an average waist.  Ectomorphic: characterized by long and thin muscles/limbs and low fat storage; usually referred to as slim.

In other words, he basically classified people into fat, medium build and slim. Never mind the grammar! I find studies indicating that different physiques carry cultural stereotypes a bit disturbing. According to Wikipedia, “One study found that endomorphs (fat people) are likely to be perceived as slow, sloppy and lazy. Mesomorphs (medium sized), in contrast, are typically stereotyped as popular and hardworking, whereas ectomorphs (slim) are often viewed as intelligent but fearful and usually take part in long distance sports.” Even commonsense will fault this study. The rigour of scientific pursuit should not validate problematic outcomes. The bottom line of this controversial theory and discipline is that physique equals destiny. And I find that troubling – however intellectually or scientifically rigorous the process of deduction is.

But we’re not that far intellectually removed from Sheldon’s theories if we determine our matrimonial destinies by physique. Some people take marital decisions based on physique only. That can’t be wise. Man is not one-dimensional. He’s three-dimensional: spirit, soul (mind, will, emotions) and body. Man is not just physique. That’s my problem with Sheldon’s theory. It’s an overstretch. You’re going to marry a woman not a body. You’ve got to look beyond the body. If you remove sex as factor and you no longer find her desirable, or the relationship becomes empty, you may want to ponder. If you can’t think of her beyond her groin perhaps you ought to consider. You’re absenting other dimensions.  Sex quarantines perspective. It smothers other dimensions of reality, orphans viewpoints. It’s a dark alley. See beyond sex.

That’s not saying a woman’s physique has no role in a relationship. It’s a force of attraction, men’s source of social pride. There’s hardly a young man with a beautiful girlfriend who won’t peacock. It’s social vanity and it’s quite natural. Of course we all have differing standards of beauty but there are commonalities of agreement on some women.

The role of the physical continues well into marriage. The need for attractiveness subsists in marriage. Many women will attest to the pleasing look of their husbands after they dress up and make up. Sheepish smile. And some men will testify of pain from the repulsive dressing of their wives at home having secured the marriage license. The physical matters in sustaining a man’s interest in a marriage – be it physique, dressing or sex. However, the construct of a matrimonial decision must not be based solely on physical attributes.

What eventually decides the success of a marriage are the non physical attributes – values, disposition, character. If she’s beautiful but rude and insolent you’re going to be peeved. Conversations will be injurious. If she’s beautiful but disloyal the very basis of your relationship is eroded. Trust is killed. If she’s beautiful but highly temperamental or willful the relationship will be hard. If she’s beautiful but cantankerous you’ll elect to stay in the attic. And if she’s beautiful but diabolical you’ll soon be praying for God’s deliverance.

Beauty is a wonderful coincidence of genes. The real judge of a person is character. Solomon puts it rather bluntly when he states that the beauty of a woman without character is like jewelry on a pig. “As a ring of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a fair woman who is without discretion.” (Proverbs 11:22). Another translation suggests you may want to consider intellect in the choice of your wife: “Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful face on an empty head.” (Proverbs 11:22 MSG). In fact, to quote from a passage often favourited by women themselves, beauty is vain.

I’m sure you’ve seen Twitter profiles reading “Virtuous Woman”, “Virtuous Gem”. It’s from the writing of Solomon (Proverbs 31). Many women imagine themselves as this woman. Most don’t realise Proverbs 31 actually talks about three separate women, but let’s leave that for another day. I’ll quote a modern translation of that famous passage. It brings things closer: “A good (virtuous, excellent) woman is hard to find, and worth far more than diamonds. Her husband trusts her without reserve, and never has reason to regret it. She comforts, encourages and does him (hubby) only good as long as there is life within her.” The passage goes on, detailing the attributes of this rare woman; she’s enterprising. She’s also humane: “She’s quick to assist anyone in need, reaches out to help the poor.” Then there’s her taste and fashion sense: “Her clothes are well-made and elegant”. And she’s sanguinary. She’s not moody: “She always faces tomorrow with a smile.” She’s obviously wise and intelligent: “When she speaks she has something worthwhile to say.” She has managerial capabilities: “She keeps an eye on everyone in her household, keeps them all busy and productive.”

Invariably Solomon arrives at the issue of physical beauty: “Charm (attractiveness) can mislead,” he wrote. Then he goes further: “Beauty is vain (fades). The woman to be admired is the woman who lives in the fear of God.”

Here’s Solomon’s list: Trustworthy, industrious, kindhearted, intelligent, attentive to appearance, godly, comforting and encouraging, with managerial and home economic skills, sanguine. Beauty okay if presented. Optional.

Note that trust is the No.1 quality. It’s where Delilah failed. Can you trust her with your life? Will she betray you? My take? If something a man wrote thousands of years ago is still an aspirational standard for women today, pay attention. If they aspire to be like this woman, it means even they recognize it’s beyond beauty.

Shouldn’t you take same approach?

Your mentor, LA.

© Leke Alder 2014

Tags : Beauty

Post Your Comments Here