Yesterday, my boyfriend asked over dinner what he could do to make me feel pretty. He asked because I had been grumpy about him admiring a woman's picture—not because it made me jealous, but because I didn't think she was particularly pretty, and that made me feel like his judgment of female attractiveness is questionable, which made me feel like him thinking I'm pretty doesn't count.
I told him he could sit and stand up straight. This is a thing for me. It's a thing about relative size, because he is a skinny dude (whereas I sit on the big round cushion of my prodigious ass, so when sitting in particular I tend to worry about whether I am taller than he is, which I sometimes am if he's hunching particularly egregiously), but I think probably even more it's a thing about attraction. He's an interior, cerebral human being, my man, and he has a tendency to forget that he is a body, to wander away from it into the inner reaches of his brain and leave his physical self crumpled awkwardly on the train seat next to me. This makes me feel gross. It makes me feel gross because it makes me feel hulking in comparison, which makes me feel unfeminine, but I don't think that's all it is. It makes me feel gross because I don't find him physically attractive in those moments of bodily abandonment, and the sudden absence of the zing and twang of attraction in my relationship is depressing, makes my own body feel like a burden, a great big lump unsanctified by physical joy.
I don't think this is about the specifics of his body. I am often attracted to him, and indeed I am often attracted to skinny dudes, their angular faces and long limbs, their agility. But what I want is for him to be more emphatically in his physical self. To not hunch or slump as he tends to, to cross his ankle over his knee and sit back tall, to take up space, to stand like he is enjoying the breadth of his (broad) shoulders and the power of being young and alive. I want that because it attracts me, and when I am attracted to him I feel more attractive, sure, but mostly when I am attracted to him I don't care very much about whether or not I'm attractive because I am getting what I want, which is to say, getting a person I desire. When he retreats from physicality it is as if he is retreating from his physical desire for me, which I find insulting, but more importantly I think, it is as if he is denying me my the inhabitance of my own body, its sensations and joys and desires.
I am not sure whether this is actually asking him to be a whole different kind of person.