Our Romantic Comedy Culture

Real-life relationships don’t look like the ones on T.V.—and that’s how it should be.

Courtesy of Warner Brothers
Music and Lyrics

A central message behind much of the content at YouBeauty.com is that being beautiful is about being yourself—cultivating your authentic sense of self and learning about all the different ways to accentuate your best qualities.

Part of the reason I joined YouBeauty.com as its Relationship Expert is that this is a decidedly different message than most of what is out there in the popular media. We are inundated (buried!) with messages about what’s wrong with us and how to look and be as perfect as possible.

Airbrushed models represent physical impossibilities; yet, from the time we’re very young, we’re fed a steady diet of beautiful images and told we should aspire to these standards.

QUIZ: How High Is Your Self-Esteem?

It is now well known that exposure to these beauty standards can increase risk for eating disorders among women. As the father of a young daughter, I’m naturally concerned about these problems, and I’ve spent a good deal of time thinking about how to protect her from this revolting process.

As I reflected on the nature of the problem, I wondered if the same thing happens in our relationships. Almost every issue of every magazine intended for women—from Seventeen to Cosmopolitan— has a feature story on “love at first sight,” or “finding your soulmate,” or “how to have perfect sex.” These stories suggest that love at first sight, soulmates and perfect sex are real and attainable.

The movie genre of romantic comedies is hardly any better. These films often portray love as something that happens magically and simply “works out” without any serious effort.

To be fair, box-office hits are not won by showing a couple arguing about who’ll empty the dishwasher next. Nevertheless, we live in a Romantic Comedy Culture, and, in my opinion, the way the media portrays relationships can be quite bad for our mental health.

RESEARCH: Happy People Watch Less T.V.

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