Little has been said or done by the ubiquitous “reality” television “star” Spencer Pratt that gives me much hope for the future of humanity. Not to mention television.
The slick and slimy love-to-hate-him boyfriend (now husband) of Heidi Montag on The Hills, Spencer appears to be every mother and best friend’s nightmare, fascinating in a can’t-turn-away-from-a-train-wreck kind of way. I’ve never actually watched The Hills, but if celebrity gossip magazines are to be believed (and in my opinion they are), his behavior is combination of cloying, egotistical, misogynistic, juvenile, self-serving, dishonest and offensive, with just the right level of fabricated vulnerability to keep people from writing him off all together.
In short, he makes you want to barf.
And Heidi does not seem to be much better. So, when it was reported that she recently underwent a staggering 10 cosmetic surgery procedures in one day, I was a) not surprised and b) pretty sure Spencer was all for it. In our fame-obsessed (guilty!) culture what could put a pseudo-celebrity ahead in the fight to stay relevant better than a brand new wife?
So, needless to say, I was surprised to come across a rather mature and somewhat touching interview with Spencer about his wife’s transformed appearance yesterday in my daily “news gathering.” (Read: celebrity gossip devouring.)
According to Pratt, his wife of a year was perfect to begin with but, he said, “I’m not in charge of what she does with any part of her body. I’m her husband—not her owner.”
He continued, “Everyone sees themselves differently when they look in the mirror. Nobody truly understands how she feels except her. I may not be OK with things, but it’s not my call.”
My first response was begrudging admiration. For a television Neanderthal, it seemed like a particularly enlightened response. He’s right! I thought. He is her husband, not her owner! It’s not his call! Well put, Mr. Pratt! Well done!
But my almost immediate second thought was, Something about this does not feel right. Yes, he is her husband, not her owner. But he is also her partner, her other half, if you will. I couldn’t help feeling that his wife completely altering her entire physical appearance at great financial, emotional and physical cost seems like something that should be at least partly “his call.”
Certainly our bodies, our physical persons, are our most, well, personal things. Our perceptions of our bodies are stubbornly our own. Our relationships with our bodies are intensely private and complicated. Spencer is right that no one can really understand how we feel about our bodies except for ourselves.
But it would also seem to me that a true marriage, a real partnership, means that we are now more than just ourselves. Beyond simply sexual intimacy, I would like to believe that our bodies, our persons, become one, united with each other and with the Lord as we go from being a “me” to an “us.” And so it seems that big decisions about our bodies should take into account more than just what we want.
Now, before we go any further, I want to be perfectly clear about one thing. I am not in any way suggesting that anyone, men or women, under any circumstances, should submit to any violation of their bodies by their spouse or anyone else. Not at all. Ever. In the least. No exceptions. Period. End of discussion.
Nor am I trying to suggest that part of the give-and-take of a marriage relationship should or has to involve one person doing (or not doing) things with their body that they don’t want to because their partner has a different opinion. Ultimately, our decisions have to be our own, and ultimately I believe the most important thing is that out decisions make us happy, comfortable, confident and fulfilled. I hope that is how Heidi Montag feels.
But I am willing to bet that we can feel happy, comfortable, confident and fulfilled in more and different ways than we might imagine. I am not speaking from any personal experience here, but I think a husband who tells me I am perfect the way I am would make me feel a heck of a lot better than breast implants.
There is no doubt that this is tricky, sticky, squishy, possibly dangerous, certainly individual and personal ground I have chosen to tread on. And we haven’t even touched on the fact that our bodies are also used and lived-in in the context of a sacred relationship with the Heavenly Father who created them. That’s another post for another day, though it might be worth noting that if our bodies were good enough for him, we can probably learn to believe they are good enough for us, too.
Back to Speidi, I guess the bottom line is this. Should Spencer have stopped her? No. Should Heidi have listened when he promised her that he loved her just the way she was? My answer is yes. To my mind, and in my ideal, to be truly partnered means that what’s mine is yours and what’s yours is mine, from triumphs to tragedies to insecurities to talents to big noses to flat chests to weak chins to everything else. What I want changes to What is best for us. I am sure is it not easy, but I have faith that it is worth it.
I hope Spencer and Heidi can figure that out, too. In reality.