The entire tennis world was up in arms over an allegation that the 2009 Wimbledon organizers placed the pretty players on center court while the homely chicks were relegated to the courts located in the netherworld. A spokesperson for the All England Club apparently conceded that physical attractiveness was indeed one of the factors that determined court assignment.
But I recently had a personal experience that gave me a different perspective on this whole question of beauty. Indeed, I came to understand (again) that even the women designated as “pretty” may not necessarily be thrilled by the attention associated with their beauty.
I’ve started learning to play golf. I loved it immediately, and promptly signed up for a series of group lessons. We were about fifteen, this group of men and women, randomly assigned to about five instructors. For several of the lessons, I happened to be in the cluster with the same instructor. In my group was a very attractive young women whom I easily befriended. It became quickly apparent that the instructor was attracted to her. For every 90-minute session, he easily spent 60 minutes dedicated exclusively to teaching her. I learned how to play by listening to what he was telling her to do and copying it as best as I could.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am no shy wall-flower. So of course from session one I would pipe up and practically demand this man’s attention. So did other members of our cluster. He ignored us all, and remained zoomed in on his target. By lesson three I was utterly frustrated, so I inveigled my way into another group and got my share of attention. Problem solved.
One day, I am walking on the grounds and ran into the young woman. I started teasing her about her “boyfriend” and about how the only way I was learning anything was by eavesdropping on their private sessions. She then started complaining to me about fed up she was of this man’s attention. She was actually quite disgusted by it. She was a married woman who loved her husband and had made a point of talking about him to us all so that the instructor would back off. He persisted, disrespectfully, all under the guise of teaching her how to play golf. I understood then why her game never improved. She was too discomfited by the experience to learn anything.
She no-showed for the last two lessons. I was not surprised. I regretted only that I had not exchanged phone numbers with her so that we could stay in touch and go out a hit a few together. And the experience reminded me that it is not always a picnic for women who find themselves defined only by their beauty.
So to the outrage over the apparent admission by a Wimbledon representative that less attractive women are discriminated against, I want to point out that this is not a compliment for the attractive women either. Because the message to the beauties is that their tennis accomplishments matter little. Their only worth is for the occasional up skirt and boob shot. That too is profoundly offensive and deeply disrespectful to all women, pretty or homely.