It was dislike at first sight, I'm ashamed to admit. I was at a breakfast meeting in the middle of a conference for work. As soon as a woman sat down across from me, I knew I didn't like her.
She was uber blond, tall and thin, and sporting large designer–label sunglasses, a ginormous rock on her left ring finger, and one of the more obvious sets of fake breasts I'd seen in a while. She perched on her chair in a way that seemed to accentuate her "assets." And then she asked the keynote speaker seated next to me a simplistic question that made it painfully obvious she hadn't been in attendance the day before.
Outwardly, I sat in rapt attention as the speaker handled the question with grace and tact. But inwardly I felt a bit of glee that this woman had asked something so, well, blond. I tried to justify my cattiness to myself, thinking, This woman is contributing to the rampant and disturbing objectification of females in our society.
But deep down, I knew there was more to my ugly thoughts. Things like jealousy over her slender, yet curvy–in–all–the–right–places frame. I knew it would garner her more male attention than I ever get—whether or not for reasons I feel good about.
As I was sitting there with my internal wrestlings, I realized this situation tied in with a discussion I'd had just the night before with the friends I was staying with at this out–of–state conference. We were an eclectic mix of women in ministry: a never–married 40–something visiting from Greece, a 40–something widow of only a year, our 50–something married–for–more–than–30–years hostess, her never–married 30–something daughter, and me (also of the latter demographic). Somehow the conversation had turned to community—how it's practiced in Greece, where our hostess had also lived for ten years, and in the U.S. Our conclusion was that there's a higher value of community in their culture than in ours, where we so value our independence and are lonely in record numbers.1