checking out other women

This is a piece I wrote for my column Mirror Mirror on The Frisky, but I wanted to share some of it here: 

I am always checking out other women. I can’t help it. They look good. It’s not a secret. They look better than men.

Women wear bright, interesting colors in creative combinations. They wear catchy jewelry and have fantastic, innovative hair. They do bold, playful things with makeup. They have cool shoes. They stand out. So I want to look at them. And then I feel awkward, because maybe I’m being weird. Maybe I’m just as bad as the annoying guys who are always staring hungrily at young women on the F train, when those women are just trying to read their damn book, thank you very much.

I feel just like a gross guy, because it seems like one gaze isn’t that much different than the other. And I don’t know what the rules really are. Or what they should be, for straight women checking out other women.

“Checking out” is the right phrase, I think, because I don’t want to just glance casually. I want to see the whole outfit, from the slightly scuffed heels to the ironic bow on the headband. More of a confession: I am curious about the body in between. I notice when a woman has amazing boobs. I’m half jealous, half awed. I automatically compare myself to her, in a nanosecond flash, and want to know what it’s like to be her and not me. Not in a “I want to cut off your skin and wear it” kind of way. Just in … a way.

(um, wow. source)


I want to admire her. I notice everything. The way her jeans fit, the line of her shoulders, her jaw, her ears. I am into her beauty. That’s probably the best way to put it.

I think checking out is generally associated with sex in some way. There’s the friendly glance, which is like, “Hey! What’s up?” and there’s the quick smile which is like, “You look cool!” and there’s the measuring look leveled at the hot pink tutu skirt she’s managing to rock that says, “I’m interested in how you’re pulling this off. Very clever of you.” And then there’s the long, lingering stare that says, “I want to lick your delicious face, you thrilling creature … the lines of your body are like the interwoven melodies of an exquisite symphony. And also I’m really horny.”

I mean, I feel like my look says that sometimes. And I really don’t want to give the impression that I am thinking that. It’s really not like that.

When I was 15 a gorgeous girl somehow liked me and I was incredibly flattered and I turned her down for this twitchy boy who carried a mechanical pencil around at all times in case he needed to do some quick calculations on a napkin or something. So yeah.

Read the rest here

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Unroast: Today I love the way there are parts of my body that I don’t even notice, let alone have time to judge. Like my ears, and my toes, and my wrists, and my eyebrows.

P.S. I’m moving tomorrow! Yay! Ack! Eek! Gulp! Hooray! See you on the other side, where the walls are pinker!





Kate on August 5th 2012 in beauty

29 Responses to “checking out other women”

  1. San D responded on 05 Aug 2012 at 4:01 pm #

    You know what’s funny? When I check other women out I am known to say (to myself) “doesn’t anyone own a full length mirror anymore?” I’m the old fashioned kind, you know, I actually check out what I look like head to toe, front to back, before I venture out. I am more like a “what not to wear” gawker, then one who looks for beautiful lines in someone’s neck.

    I expect a picture of Bear carrying you in his arms over your new threshold.

    We close in September on our new Florida home.

  2. Kate responded on 05 Aug 2012 at 4:07 pm #

    @San D
    I know people who actually don’t have a full-length mirror. I always want to know how my shoes complete the outfit. Even when I’m really shlumpy.

    I will tell Bear that you expect that :-)

    And that’s so exciting!! Good luck with everything! September is coming up fast.

  3. Karen responded on 05 Aug 2012 at 4:45 pm #

    I totally do the same thing. It’s kinda awkward sometimes.
    Also: the pink looks GREAT! :)

  4. Iris responded on 05 Aug 2012 at 6:10 pm #

    Reminds me of Jenna Marbles’ video about girl crushes.

    “Girls are majestic fuckin’ creatures.”

  5. contrary kiwi responded on 05 Aug 2012 at 6:46 pm #

    I am always checking out other women. I have no sexual desire for them, but I really enjoy the way women look. They often have way more interesting clothing and accessories than men do, and I am more likely to find them beautiful. So I spend a lot of time looking at them. I love finding beauty in people. But I also stare at men if I find them interesting or beautiful in any way. But I don’t find staring problematic, unless the person staring is playing with themselves or looking murderous. I don’t mind being stared at for whatever reason, and I wouldn’t consider it offensive or disturbing unless the person did or said something that clearly indicated that their thoughts were unsavoury.

  6. Kate responded on 05 Aug 2012 at 6:50 pm #

    SO FUNNY.Thanks for sending

  7. Kate responded on 05 Aug 2012 at 6:51 pm #

    Thanks!! I’m so friggin’ excited about that wall….

  8. Kate responded on 05 Aug 2012 at 6:51 pm #

    @contrary kiwi
    I love that you’ve embraced your own staring. I’m going to do that too.

  9. Sheryl responded on 05 Aug 2012 at 7:22 pm #

    I’m guilty of this as well. I like looking at women – we’re pretty aesthetically pleasing creatures, really. Our bodies and the way we style them are more interesting than men, for the most part.

  10. Melanie responded on 05 Aug 2012 at 10:20 pm #

    I check out women all of the time and like San D my thoughts sometimes go to, “She’s way thinner than I am, but she doesn’t know how to dress her body and she’s making herself look plump and dumpy.” I almost want to start a styling program for plus size gals.

    But a lot of the time I love how someone looks, and I’ll let them know, “You are so cute it’s ridiculous!” or “That tattoo is stunning!” I give out compliments often.

  11. Melissa responded on 06 Aug 2012 at 1:02 am #

    I do this all the time too! I thought I was a creeper. I like boobs, butts, faces. I love the way girls do their make-up, their hair, the outfits they put together.

    Part of it is, that I want to be that girl. I want to have that confidence that that woman portrays. I want to be sexy like that.

    What I’ve found though. Some of those girls don’t have the confidence we think they do, but they rock on with their make-up and outfits.

  12. Macky responded on 06 Aug 2012 at 10:15 am #

    I do this too. I realized last night that despite being in a LTR, I don’t really want to sleep with other people, I want to be in someone else’s body while I sleep with the same person. This might be a sign of bad self-esteem, but I would rather have sexual experiences with the body of someone else then experience someone else’s body. The more I think about this, the more problematic it seems. What do you think?

  13. Kimmy Sue Ruby Lou responded on 06 Aug 2012 at 1:22 pm #

    Love, love, love this post! Iris hits the nail on the head…women ARE majestic fucking creatures! LOL…I embarrass my daughters a lot, to the point where they’ll see some woman (young, old, black, white, makes no difference) walking around in something eye-catching and putting out such a lovely vibe that they’ll immediately say “Mom, don’t say anything!” But, I can’t help it…I get excited and will say things like, “You look so pretty…or gorgeous!”…or whatever pops into my head. I just get excited when I see a woman showing her soul on the outside…and it’s obvious.

  14. Katrina Blanchalle responded on 06 Aug 2012 at 1:29 pm #

    Talk about being a creeper! I feel like a dirty old woman, twice your age and hanging around your blog all the time! It’s just so inspiring and gives me a lot of hope when I see you having these insights that it took me 40 or 50 years to finally grasp.
    Yes, women are lush, colorful, exquisite beings of amazing variety, and we should all just admit it and enjoy it. I think at some point in my life I did feel envy over some things like “better” hair and boobs, but now I just enjoy the beauty of it all.
    I’m at the “who cares” phase, mated for life, retired, and covered with a thick protective shell of cellulite and varicose veins, so I just don’t give a rat’s patootie what people think of me looking at other people. If they even think about it. Which they probably don’t.

  15. Sarah responded on 06 Aug 2012 at 2:34 pm #

    I adore this wonderful post. Thank you for broaching a subject that so many of us already think about and lack a proper forum in which to address it. I too appreciate looking at women, and my boyfriend jokingly accuses of me of being creepy for doing it! (I do admit to being guilty of “well she’s the one wearing it, so she must want attention”-type comments and similar utterances) but really I think he’s just jealous that perhaps oogling is easier for me to get away with… ;-) Really it is nice to admire each other from afar, and wonder what it’s like to be one another… the latter of course far creepier than just the transient “ooh I love those shoes with THAT sweater,” but far more realistic and intimate. I love that the definitions of “normal” and “comfortable” continue to be fluid, and open to interpretation. Here’s to more of us being comfortable addressing our similarities, differences, and embracing them to the point where we can be open and honest about our propensity for admiration…so it’s not a “dirty” or creepy thing, but in a way, a method of appreciation and love. After all, us girls havta stick together!

  16. Yasmine responded on 06 Aug 2012 at 5:28 pm #

    I always check out other women specifically in terms of body parts that I’m feeling insecure about at various stages of my life. In the beginning, it was noses, because I’ve hated my own (long, big) nose for much of my life. (I am sort of finally over this, thankggod.) Then, it was eyebrows — mine were always so unruly, and I was fascinated by how other women shaped theirs. These days, I’m always checking out hairlines. I know that sounds weird, but I have a really high forehead, and my hairline is basically square-shaped, which makes my forehead look even more huge. So I’m always comparing and coveting other women’s foreheads/hairlines now. Sigh.

    PS: That pink wall is amaa-ZING! You did it! =) I lovelovelove it, and can’t wait to see more photos!

  17. Megan responded on 06 Aug 2012 at 5:58 pm #

    I tell my husband all the time that women look way better naked than men do. Women are just better to look at! Now don’t get me wrong. Men are friggin’ hot. But women are just more pleasant.

    I actually got caught staring at a woman today. I was standing with my husband checking out at the cash register, and I totally stared at this woman. And she caught me. And I blushed. It was ridiculous, like high school or something. But she was just cute! I looked at her because I wanted to figure out how she made herself that cute and if I could do it too.

    I am not a lesbian, but I think my husband might be concerned that I am. haha

  18. Kande responded on 06 Aug 2012 at 9:19 pm #

    All women check out other women. But where most of us do it out of envy or jealousy or to feel superior, you do it purely out of admiration. And that is something we should all learn to do.

  19. ashley responded on 07 Aug 2012 at 12:00 pm #

    I become more confident when a woman compliments my looks than a man. I think it’s because I know how critical us ladies can be, so when a complete lady stranger tells me I look great, I am tickled. Saying that, I find myself more apt to compliment another woman, after I have received a compliment.

  20. Yasmine responded on 07 Aug 2012 at 4:04 pm #

    Also, since this post is all about checking out other women, I’d like to know what you’re wearing in your pink-wall-backdrop photo! It looks SEXY! =)))

  21. sami responded on 07 Aug 2012 at 9:10 pm #

    Yay! When I admitted looking at other women in your ballerina post I was afraid that it was just me. Thank you for this, I feel like less of a creepy weirdo now!
    Anyway I checked out your picture above and your shoulders are excellent :)

    Best of luck with your move. The wall colour is fantastic :D

  22. J responded on 07 Aug 2012 at 10:32 pm #

    I’m definitely there with you! I always kind of attributed it to the fact that I’m an artist/portrait artist…but whoever you are there’s so much to appreciate in women (and men!) on just an aesthetic level, a lot to admire.

  23. Abby responded on 07 Aug 2012 at 11:07 pm #

    I’m so glad to know I’m not the only one…I always felt like a bit of a creep, but people–usually girls–are just so fascinating to watch. What they wear and how they move and carry themselves…it’s just so varied and so different and so incredibly interesting!

    I thought it made me really weird, and to be honest, it made me question my sexuality a little. Because society does tie in looking with sex. Especially books–”heated glances” or “looks in which no words were exchanged” or “smoldering eyes” or whatever, it’s almost always about sexytimes. So I’ll admit it had me a little confused.(Is that weird to admit? Probably.)

    I just think humans are exquisite, fascinating creatures in ways that they don’t always understand, and I love looking at people in a completely aesthetic, nonsexual way. After reading this, I feel like that’s okay. (Although I still will try to keep from being a complete creeper.)

  24. Mariko responded on 08 Aug 2012 at 3:24 pm #

    I do this all the time! Mainly because I become fixated on someone’s outfit or the perfection of their hair. I’m also of the party that definitely appreciates when another female compliments my looks or outfit, because we are so much more judgmental and critical (normally) about appearances than men. Guys usually think we look great no matter what, but a woman will tell you the truth!

  25. Jenn responded on 09 Aug 2012 at 9:38 pm #

    Yesterday, I yelled out of my car window to (at?) a GORGEOUS, very pregnant woman pushing a stroller. I hollered, “You are magnificent and gorgeous!” She laughed and looked a little startled. I think it is a very good thing to point out beauty when we see it.

  26. Lynellekw responded on 10 Aug 2012 at 4:33 pm #

    Another woman stopped while crossing a road once to compliment my dress and how it looked on me and ask where I got it. That was nice. Since then I’ve made an effort to compliment people on anything that I like or admire in or on them, be it clothing or behaviour or whatever. Probably not everyone likes it. But I figure – we hear so much negative stuff, and people seem to often give us attention only when they’re trying to GET something from us, that it’s good to admire solely for the sake of admiration sometimes.

  27. Lina responded on 10 Aug 2012 at 6:48 pm #

    Sometimes, when I “check-out” other women in public or look at other fabulous women in print for such a considerable amount of time that I actually forget how I originally look like.
    And when I look in the mirror, I get a tad shocked that I am not how my mind thinks I look, that I am just so different from those women. It’s like as if checking them out has tricked my mind into thinking that’s how I look like.
    (Oh Kate, I really hope you get my drift here, I feel like I’m rambling — it’s about 7am here in Singapore and I have not yet gotten any sleep) :)

  28. Christine responded on 11 Aug 2012 at 8:19 am #

    I LOVE this post! Hilarious and so true….I do this all the time!! Thank you for a good read with my Saturday morning coffee :)

  29. Eat the Damn Cake » I would appreciate it if people would tell me that my husband is hot responded on 05 Nov 2012 at 1:00 pm #

    [...] losing the tightness of our skin. We are in our twenties and we are nervous already. We talk about the girl we saw on the subway, casually, before we talk about something more important. We talk about losing weight, gaining [...]