Now that Memorial Day is behind us, we are officially into bathing suit season, and boy is that the topic of conversation among straight women these days. I specify straight women because they seem to feel more pressure to look good in beach and pool attire than lesbians. Why? Because they care what men think about them.

I was at lunch with several women the other day, a majority of them straight. The discussion turned to summer travel plans, and all trips included lounging by a body of water. Every straight woman began to complain about how few swimsuits look good on them, and one of the women even claimed she had no intention of going to the water with her companions; she had simply given up hope of feeling good with fewer clothes on.

Then a lesbian in the group stated she just throws on some shorts and says to hell with it. Granted, lesbians are women and have been trained at a young age — like their straight counterparts — to be highly critical of their physique. However, as adults, it’s easier for us to shake off that first negative reaction to ourselves and remember we’re above that petty nonsense, and the judgment in our world is simply not the same.

However, if you try to tell a straight woman her poor self-image is based on her attempts to please a man, she’ll deny it until her final breath. I suppose that’s because straight women also want to attain a higher self-awareness and not care about that old-fashioned notion that women are supposed to be flawless and men can behave however they please.

But I think their actions are louder than their excuses.

Take boob jobs, for instance: There are plenty of them out there and the women who get them claim many reasons for the surgery, including better-fitting clothes or damage control after having children. When asked if they ultimately went under the knife for their husbands or boyfriends the answer is always:

“It’s not for him — it’s for me.”

Bullshit. In all my years, I have yet to meet a lesbian who has ever had breast-enhancement surgery. There are advantages to being a gay woman, and one of the biggest advantages is being with a partner who truly understands women’s bodies. There’s also the reality that lesbians don’t routinely trade our girlfriends in for younger models per se. If two women break up, one of them is just as likely to date someone her age than to dip into the younger end of the pool. But for straight women, there is a very real message that their man is only going to be truly happy and committed if the woman maintains a certain level of physical perfection. Without being perceived as “beautiful” in the eyes of the male masses, these women seem to lose their sense of worth rapidly.

The real key to beauty for straight ladies is to see it in themselves, to let go of what is wrong in the mirror and see what is right. You’re the lead — not your man — and their attraction will likely follow you faster the more body-confident you are. Then you too can be like a lesbian, and wear whatever the hell you want and enjoy the summer.

One of the first out radio personalities in Atlanta, Melissa’s worked for B98.5 and Q100. Catch her daily on theProgressive Voices podcast “She Persisted.” Tweet her! @MelissaCarter

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