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Battlefield girth 

Plus, out of bounce

Battlefield Girth

In a recent column, you validated a woman's desire to lose weight solely to meet her husband's needs. Your encouraging her to take off pounds and get plastic surgery for him is an insult to yourself and every woman who reads your disgraceful article. I disagree with your notion that males care more about looks. I'm a heterosexual woman (19 ... am I a woman yet?), and my dates' looks are extremely important to me. For a few extra pounds to prevent a man from seeing why he fell in love with his wife is barbaric. If you're really in love, you transcend the external. If this woman can find it within herself to love the stuff she's made of, she'll attract attention she never thought imaginable -- the sort only unconditional self-acceptance brings.

-- Appalled

If a woman's sex appeal sprang from inner beauty, Eleanor Roosevelt, who looked like a scone in a housedress, would've been Playboy's hottest selling cover girl of all time.

The woman who wrote me wanted to lose weight after stress-eating herself 50 pounds heavier in seven months. Her husband hadn't lost track of her inner beauty, he was just having a hard time finding her waist. He didn't stop loving her, he just stopped wanting to have sex with her. Although she wasn't losing weight "solely to meet her husband's needs," when is it not in a woman's interest to keep her husband interested? Regarding her desire for plastic surgery, if a woman's got post-weight-loss flapping flesh she'd like removed, who am I to tell her, no, do your best to walk proud with Dumbo's ears hanging over your skirt like pockets out of jeans?

It isn't just my "notion" that women are less looks-driven, but my notion based on reams of data showing that women seem to be hard-wired to care more about a guy's status and earning potential. Sure, you can make a guy's hotitude your priority because, at 19, it doesn't matter so much if he's earning his living carving carrots into swans on the street corner. Ten years from now, if you're looking to start a family, I'm guessing you'll be up for a little less hair in exchange for a little more 401(k). Think about it: If Bill Gates became single, women would line up like it was free tickets to The Stones. Whaddya wanna bet, when he was your age, women kicked him out of the way to get to the rocker boy who turned in cans to pay for food?

According to you, if a man's "really in love," he can "transcend the external." Lovely idea, no basis in reality. Male sexuality is much more visual than female sexuality. But, don't just take it from me, take it from a man who used to be a woman. Griffin Hansbury, a former lesbian who underwent sex reassignment surgery, talked on This American Life about how he saw women before and after "T" -- testosterone injections. "Before ... I would see a woman on the subway, and ... I'd like to meet her, what's that book she's reading?" Afterward, even nice ankles on a woman would be "enough to flood my mind with aggressive pornographic images. ... It was like ... a pornographic nudie house in my mind. And I couldn't turn it off."

If anyone's reducing this woman to the sum of her fleshy parts, it's you. "The stuff she's made of" isn't 50 extra pounds. She could continue collecting chins and insist a worthwhile man would lust after her character alone, but that's really just a different kind of unhealthy than starving yourself until you look like a praying mantis in shoes.

Out Of Bounce

You advised a guy on the rebound to go fix what's broken instead of talking about his pain on dates. I'm for getting back on the horse. You need to have relationships to understand them. How do you know what's wrong with you without testing it out on other people?

-- Joe Pragmatic

Be sure to put your wishes in your personals ad: "I'm not so much looking for a girlfriend as I am a nice sturdy mare to transport me to the other side of my emotional wilderness." While you're waiting (and waiting) to be deluged with replies, you might give some thought to what went wrong in your last relationship, and what you need to change to prevent it from going wrong in your next one. Then, maybe you won't have to make some unsuspecting woman your test lab -- kind of rude, considering she's probably looking for a boyfriend, not an opportunity to trade drinks for therapy. Even if a woman's looking for something casual -- some exercise for the old erogenous zones -- good luck coming up with a story about how erotic it can be when a man lays his head on a woman's shoulder and sobs uncontrollably.

Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave, #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or e-mail

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