Idealized beauty versus idealized intelligence

Our household has been struck with the flu this week (how we got the flu in August when it’s 110 out is beyond me!). So, I thought I’d pass along a quote from a friend that made me stop and think about my own body image.

“When women evaluate their physical attractiveness, they compare themselves with an idealized standard of beauty, such as a fashion model. In contrast, when both men and women evaluate their intelligence, they do not compare themselves to Einstein, but rather to a more mundane standard.”
Richard Robins, professor of psychology at UC Davis

This made me think, “Why do I think it’s a reasonable expectation to look like Heidi Klum after a workout session at the gym? I don’t think I should be as smart as Marilyn vos Savant just because I completed a crossword puzzle this morning.”


EmilyCC lives in Phoenix, Arizona with her spouse and three children. She currently serves as a stake Just Serve specialists, and she recently returned to school to become a nurse. She is a former editor of Exponent II and a founding blogger at The Exponent.

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  1. Eve says:

    Great question, Emily. It’s almost a cliche to blame the media, but in considering why this is I can’t help imagining a world of women’s magazines filled with lucious pictures of ideal brains, brain makeovers, 10 tips for the latest fall braininess, 50 brain-enhancers for $20 or less, evaluating your brain type, playing up your brain strengths and minimizing problem brain areas, 30 days to a whole new brain, interviews with brainy women featuring long, delicious exerts of their braininess….

  2. Clark Goble says:

    I compare myself with the bigwigs. It was one reason I didn’t continue on in physics – I didn’t think I was up to the task. But then I compare myself to all the other guys at the gym too. I used to do well there – but not since the babies came! (ugh)

  3. Eric Nielson says:

    I have been wondering lately about intelligence, or perceived intelligence.

    There is a guy at work that I have been having a lot of conflict with. Everybody thinks he is this super genious. Based on what? Have they seen his IQ scores on a standardized test. No, it is just an impression.

    When people describe this guy they almost always say, ‘He is really smart, but’ … And then they say something about him that usually does not go along with intelligence. Like he is really smart, but has no common sense, or but is not practical, or is very flighty, or something.

    I guess what I am trying to say that so much of both areas are subjective. Why do we think of certain people as beutiful? Why do we think of others as intelligent. So much of it is perception.

  4. Rusty says:

    It’s actually really simple, there’s no money to be made in the intelligence business (except maybe in publishing).

  5. AmyB says:

    Rusty, Bill Gates and those google guys might beg to differ. 🙂

    It is certainly an interesting social phenomenon. I like to cultivate my mind, but at the same time, I have been taught that IQ is a relatively stable thing. I have the impression that we come with a certain amount of mental capacity. We can maximize what we do have, but no amount of mental sit ups and push ups can make us raise our IQs.

    We do recieve messages that with enough work we could look like Heidi Klum, although for most people it’s not realistic.

    There is a quasi-objective ideal for beauty/bodies. I don’t see an obvious ideal for intelligence. Perhaps that contributes to the difference. I just wish I could pass by those glam magazines without wishing I looked like the girl on the cover!

  6. Mark Butler says:

    As a rule, I think fashion models are *not* beautiful more often than not. Most of them aren’t even pretty.

  7. Clark Goble says:

    Mark’s completely right. I’ve known a fair number of models and most photograph well but you wouldn’t think were necessarily attractive. Often they are chosen for “striking looks” that many would consider ugly outside of particular photographs. Further, especially those in the high fashion industry, are anorexic and kind of “pasty.” Even models who’s photos are aimed at men rather than women aren’t necessarily attractive. I’ve seen lots of “famous” faces in Las Vegas and many I wouldn’t particularly want to date. (Back in my single days anyway)

    I think Utah tends to have a lot more attractive women. The big different (for both men and women) is that out here we tend to dress more slovenly. (I say as the hypocrite as I sit here in gym shorts and a t-shirt while not being at the gym)

    Often we judge people who might be more “unattractive” as attractive mainly due to the way they carry themselves with confidence and because of the way they dress. While it is an annoying Hollywood cliche, often those Cinderella stories where a slight makeover on a guy or a girl are pretty close to the fact. As is a bit of confidence boosting.

  8. Clark Goble says:

    Dang, lots of typos – my apologies. I’m sleep deprived due to a new baby. Hopefully the general idea got across.

  9. Starfoxy says:

    I think I should also point out that far too often what we compare ourselves to, and expect to look like isn’t even real.
    I can’t even think of a parallel for intelligence. Possibly not just comparing ourselves to Einstien’s solo work, but comparing our individual intelligence to what a group of geniuses came up with.

  10. Clark Goble says:

    Even before Photoshop allowed fashion editors to create impossible beauty the fact was that it was all fake. As much due to lighting and the fact that it was the one good shot out of perhaps 100 photos. People – especially the models – just don’t typically look like they do in pictures.

    By the same extension though, just because someone is smart in say writing some particular paper or the like doesn’t mean they are smart in other areas. Further papers often are written over months or even years. Some expect someone to be, on the fly, exactly like they are in a paper. So I think this principle applies in intelligence as well.

    It reminds me of poor comedians who do a lot of work to act funny in narrow circumstances. Many complain when people expect them to be, on the fly, like their comedy routines.

  11. Mardell says:

    Amy B.
    You do look like the girls on the covers. If you do not belevie me ask your husband. All you lack, if anything, is a drug addiction and an eating disorder.:)

  12. Mark Butler says:

    Besides what Clark said, e.g. many models looking rather unhealthy, most of them look incredibly worldly – severe immodesty, heavy makeup, radical styles in particular. There is nothing truly attractive about a slut, no matter how perfect her body is.

    And the sad thing is that due to the example of Brittany Spears, Christina Aguilera, et al, we are raising a whole generation of girls who start to dress like sluts from the time they enter kindergarten.

    Or take the first Spiderman movie. My general reaction was how could any self respecting guy be seriously attracted to a girl who dressed like that. It seems like the directors are always trying to define the modesty standard down several notches, like they have a moral obligation to destroy conventional morality.

  13. AmyB says:

    Mardell- thanks for the compliment.:)

    Mark Butler- I don’t want to be confrontational or rude, but when I read your comment, it just rubbed me the wrong way. I think throwing terms like “slut” around when you are talking about women is objectifying and offensive.

    It’s interesting that this topic is drawing so many comments from men. It seems they’ve all got something to say about our looks.

    On the topic of intelligence, being a “smart girl” was something I struggled with when I was younger, especially in high school. My dad told me that I intimidated boys with my brains (that had a long-lasting negative effect on me). I continued to work hard to be at the top of my class, but in interpersonal interactions I would often play dumb. In my adolescence, looks were praised in a female, brains were not. I don’t know if other women have experience this, but I’m still working on getting over it.

  14. MJK says:

    amyb, I was the same way. I was always top of my class, and felt outcast for it. No one wanted to date the brainy girls in high school. Even our validictorian, who was brainy, GORGEOUS, varsity athelete and the sweetest girl you’ll ever meet – I don’t think she got asked out a lot either.
    I believe that you have to get out of high school before you get away from that stereotype. Now in college it seemed to be an asset,and most of the guys I met and became friends with were looking for some brains.

  15. Eve says:

    Just to wrench the conversation back around on itself–and just to plunge in on an issue well outside my expertise (my brother Ziff the quantitative psychologist should be making this comment)–I can’t resist pointing out that IQ isn’t intelligence, and that giving someone a standardized test is a remarkably accurate way to measure…brace for it!…her ability to perform on standardized tests. IQ tests were developed to predict school performance, which is, of course, inevitably cultural, since school represents a part of socialization into a given culture. That’s it. That’s all they’re good for.

    To pick an analogy relevant to this discussion, it would be as if we assigned people BQs (Beauty Quotients) to predict their performance in future beauty pageants. A BQ of 120 might correlate with a greater-than-average chance of securing a pageant tiara, but I don’t think we’d want to confuse the predictive value of such a number with something as complex, subtle, and irreducible as beauty.

  16. AmyB says:

    Eve, You bring up an excellent point. After I’d posted using IQ’s to refer to intelligence, I wished I hadn’t, for the exact reasons that you mention. (Side note: I’m particularly interested in Howard Gardner’s theories about multiple intelligences. )

    I think there are two aspects of “beauty” in this discussion. One is the natural aesthetic appeal of a person’s looks. Another is an ideal for how our bodies should look. We recieve messages that we should be slim, firm, have no visible fat, etc. I wouldn’t say this is “beauty” per se, but I think it is part of what we are talking about. That’s the part about which we are told if we work hard enough, we can attain. I don’t know if there is something comparable for intelligence (whatever that is).

  17. Seraphine says:

    I can definitely identify with some of what you’ve expressed, AmyB. I’ve struggled for years with the whole “smart girls indimidate boys” issue (though I was lucky enough to have a dad that said if a boy wasn’t interested in a smart girl, there was something wrong with him and not me). As a result, I never felt the need to “play dumb.”


    My struggles (before I got engaged) was negotiating the world of beauty/intelligence outside vs. inside the church. I’ve had a lot more problems in the latter.

    Eve, great observations. Intelligence, in one sense of the word, is socially constructed, though as you pointed out earlier, the whole IQ/standardized test phenomenon is not broadcast throughout the media on a daily basis. And, as AmyB noted, there’s not really the same kind of “ideal” that exists when we think about “beauty.”

  18. Seraphine says:

    oops–I meant to sign off with “Seraphine” at the end of my reply, but somehow it ended up in the middle. 🙂

  19. Eve says:

    AmyB, MJK, and Seraphine, I really appreciated your comments on the social liabilities of intelligence in women. I struggled with them as well–like Amy I was told not to play feminine, self-deprecate, and not to intimidate the boys. I always wondered how hiding a fundamental part of oneself could possibly be a component of developing a closer relationship. Really, what were you supposed to do–play dumb until after the wedding, and then once you’d hooked the poor guy dramatically open the closet and reveal all of the books you’d been squirreling away? Or worse, keep playing dumb for the rest of your life? (And a marriage like that would be preferable to singlehood…why??)

    As Seraphine noted, I too have found it more of a handicap in the church than out of it. When I was pursuing a master’s at BYU, I felt as if I constantly provoked anxiety in a certain minority of men, who just could not accept me as a colleague. One who was in both my program and my ward (how did I get so lucky?) had to follow me around and read me the most sexist quotes he could find from the nineteenth-century authors we were reading and constantly inform me that his wife had no intellectual interests whatsoever.

  20. Seraphine says:

    Eve, yikes. I can’t say I’ve ever had an experience quite that distressing. But I’ve always found more guys interested in dating me outside the church than in it.

    At church, I’ve had a number of guys who have approached me because of how I look (I was blessed/cursed with a 6′ frame and a metabolism that prevents me from gaining weight even when I try), who lost interest soon after I opened my mouth (it was usually shortly after I informed them I was getting a doctorate in English and planned on being a college professor).

    And I agree–being single would be vastly preferable to the kind of marriage you’ve described.


  21. Tam says:

    These latter comments remind of a time some years ago when I was a student at BYU, and unlike most of the other single women, I didn’t date much. At one point I was informed by a no doubt well-intentioned young man that the reason I didn’t get asked out more often had to do with my attire and my major. I was (and still am) a blue jeans and T-shirt kind of woman and was majoring in zoology. If, he said, I were to start wearing pink and lacey clothing and change my major to something like childhood education (I’m not kidding – he really said this in all seriousness), then I would be more appealing to men. I said, “But if I did that, I ‘d end up with someone like you.” That sort of ended the conversation. And he never asked me out. I suspect we’re both much happier because of it.

    And I think this hits on the point of the original post. I think it’s reasonable to consider that women have high expectations for beauty but not for intelligence because we are valued more for our looks than our thoughts, generally speaking. But there seems to be an implication in the quote that men’s expectations are similar to women with regard to beauty and intelligence. If that’s accurate, I’m not sure I have such a ready explanation.

  22. EmilyCC says:

    Eve, thanks for pointing out that IQ doesn’t = intelligence. It’s a convenient way to discuss intelligence but as AmyB pointed out with the alternative intelligences theory, it’s not very accurate. I think Eric alluded to that idea with his difficult co-worker situation. If he’s so intelligent, it would make sense to me that he would be a little more aware of the problems he’s causing.

  23. Deborah says:

    Tam: Once I decided to study education, it sealed my decision to avoid BYU — I had heard too many stories about women transferring into elementary ed as a “default” major after getting engaged. I didn’t want people to misjudge my passion or intellect because I planned on “working with kids.”

    As for beauty/intelligence: I trace falling in love with my husband to a single comment. “Why haven’t you thought of pursuing a doctorate? You have so much to give, and I think you are selling yourself short.” It was also at that moment that I began to realize the extent to which I had been slowly, imperceptibly dumbing myself down in the LDS dating world. I had watched girlfriends do this for years — to my dismay and disdain. How had it happened to me? With men, I was quick to point out that I was a teacher while forgetting (honestly forgetting) to converse about journal publications, consulting work, graduate school ambitions, etc. For me it wasn’t a beauty/brains dichotomy; it was work/church. In my professional life, I competed intellectually. In my dating life, my round hips invaded my brain and self-esteem. Part of it was the male/female ratio I suppose — 2 women for every man. And so many of these women were beautiful *and* brilliant . . .

    No wonder I pursued my profession with such abandon. By some undeserved grace, I met my husband at work.

  24. Clark Goble says:

    I think BYU gets, perhaps, too bad a rap. While heaven knows there are men who are superficial and perhaps prideful or insecure there are plenty who are not. And those who are not are often not dating because they don’t like the typical BYU girl.

    That’s why there are statistics that 15% of people (going by memory here) who do 85% of the dating.

    The fact is that people often intimidate each other. “Brains” so called intimidate people who just can’t understand what you are doing and fear they can’t relate. But that’s true of almost anything one could point to that you have a passion for. That fear of being able to relate seems a valid concern although we perhaps make too big a deal of it ultimately. You’ll find when you date whether it will in practice matter or not.

  25. Eve says:

    Clark, I completely agree that the majority of men I dealt with at BYU were friendly and civil. However, BYU is different from other universities I’ve attended in that a significant minority of men really can’t seem to accept women as intellectual equals.

    The fact is that people often intimidate each other. “Brains” so called intimidate people who just can’t understand what you are doing and fear they can’t relate.

    I think the problem is more fundamental than that. Some of the most obnoxious men I knew at BYU were in my field or related fields–so they clearly could understand and relate to what I was doing. They just didn’t like the fact that I, too, was doing it.

  26. Eve says:

    Deborah, your husband sounds fantastic. That’s one of the reasons I adore my husband as well. He has insisted that I continue my education during the periods of my life when I myself have almost lost the ability to continue.

  27. meems says:

    This is a profound post. I’ve loved every comment. I’m so passionate about the whole beauty v. intelligence questions, and while I’m pretty “average” in that I am always comparing myself to others physically, I’ve never really thought about why I’m not always comparing myself to Marilyn vos Savant or Stephen Hawking. 🙂

    I feel like I wish I were smarter, though. And prettier. Who doesn’t?

  28. Heather says:

    There actually is a brain booster industry blooming. Every book store or library now carries books on how to train your brain to retain information more quickly or more reliably, to regurgitate stored information more efficiently, to think more creatively, more abstractly, more concretely, you name it. You can spend thousands of dollars on cosmetic brain enhancement such as neurotherapy with tiny electrical shocks supposed to “wake up areas of the brain” (sound like cellulite remedies to anyone else?). You can play video games with your brainwaves by connecting dozens of electrodes to your head thereby training your brain to produce more or less alpha, beta, theta waves. You can buy the latest brain fad pills with Ginkgo or Echinacea. Just the other day in an office waiting room I read 2 articles in a mainstream magazine on “brainfood” what to pick up at the supermarket to boost your IQ. And man oh man is there ever a wide variety of programs and products you can purchase to make your children’s gray matter superior to your own. So Eve, there are already magazines with 10 tips for the latest fall braininess, they just often have svelte ectomorphs on the cover as well.

  29. david says:

    I find parts of this thread very interesting. While there are definately men that cannot view women as an intellectual equal, they are in the vast minority. There are also a great deal of women that cannot communicate with a man – and vice versa. It is a skill that must be learned.

    Personally, I dated alot of women, but generally only got serious with women of high intelligence. Almost every time, the more intelligent a woman was, the more incapable she was of – for the lack of a better word – flirting, a critical element for a man, and one often scorned by women who consider themselves above such nonsense.

    Intelligent women dont always intimidate men. To think that is bordering on being a bit arrogant. Intelligent women quite often (but not intentionally) portray themselves as being “too good” for the man the are dating, so he looses interest.

    There is unfortunately a very intricate set of steps in the courtship dance – for both players. Not knowing (or not learning) them all is frequently the fate of those who are intelligent, and perhaps a bit socially slow. To blame BYU or LDS male mormon culture is a cop out.

  30. Eve says:

    David, as it turns out, I was already married during the years I spent at BYU. The problems I had with certain men were not problems establishing romantic relationships–they were problems in establishing collegial ones. I’m not blaming BYU or LDS men for any personal failures in courtship–I’m not talking about courtship at all. I’m simply observing that there is a subculture of LDS men who have not been raised to view women as their intellectual peers and equals. This is not a problem I have ever encountered in non-LDS men with whom I’ve attended school, who have, to a person, unconsciously and immediately granted me the respect of a colleague. Not a single LDS man has constantly questioned my right to be at university or made sexist digs about women’s intellectual inferiority–and more than one LDS man I’ve encountered has employed these tactics. From what I understand, this problem at BYU has been borne out by studies which find that most women at BYU see themselves as there to get an education, but most men at BYU see the women as there to get married.

    Perhaps this subculture has started to change since I left BYU eight years ago. I can only hope so.

  31. dangermom says:

    It’s my understanding that BYU culture has changed a lot over the past several years, as it’s gotten more difficult to get in. My sources tell me that most BYU students are very serious. The girls I know who have gone there lately are smart and ambitious.

    I also think that whole subcutulre is dying anyway. I can’t be much younger than any of you (I’m 32) and I suppose a lot of this is geography-based anyway, but I can’t recall ever once being told by anyone that I should dumb down in order to attract the boys. I was always the “smart girl” (this wasn’t that hard in my hometown and I make no claims to genius), and I dealt with all the teasing in school that comes with that, but I never, ever felt that Church members disapproved of my brains or that I should hide my intelligence at all.

  32. david says:

    “I’m simply observing that there is a subculture of LDS men who have not been raised to view women as their intellectual peers and equals.”

    This is just as true if you remove the ‘LDS’ from your statement.

  33. Kaimi says:

    I hate to disagree with you, Eve, but I think you’re (slightly) off-base here. It’s likely true that certain sentiments (women as less intelligent) are somewhat more pronounced among the LDS population. But those sentiments definitely exist among the non-LDS population. This one has an easy two-word proof: Lawrence Summers.

    I can’t help but wonder whether your impression comes from a faulty comparison. You write,

    “LDS men who have not been raised to view women as their intellectual peers and equals. This is not a problem I have ever encountered in non-LDS men with whom I’ve attended school . . .”

    This may be an apples to oranges comparison, Eve. You’ve got extensive contact with LDS men at the undergrad level and also at the general-cross-section level (ward members). You seem to be comparing them (though it’s not completely clear) to your grad-student (literature and philosophy!) peers. That comparison seems, um, methodologically problematical.

    This is not to say that some difference of degree doesn’t exist between views of women in the LDS and non-LDS populations — it almost certainly does, I think — but I’m disinclined to think that the difference is the hard black-and-white dichotomy that you seem to portray.

  34. AmyB says:

    I would posit that the more strictly patriarchal the society in which people are raised, the more rampant will be the sexist attitudes. Heirarchical power structures that place men above women cannot help but create conscious or unconscious attitudes that men are better than women. Men with these attitudes will be uncomfortable and perhaps threatened when a women shows equal or superior intelligence. I don’t think Mormons have a corner on this market, but I do think the uneven power structures are likely to contribute to the problems many of us here have experienced first-hand.

    Intelligent women dont always intimidate men. To think that is bordering on being a bit arrogant. Intelligent women quite often (but not intentionally) portray themselves as being “too good” for the man the are dating, so he looses interest.

    I think this comment shows a misunderstanding of what we are talking about. Some of us have been subject to open hostility on the part of men in direct response to being an intelligent woman. I was specifically told by a man (my father) that boys would be intimidated by me. This did damage to my self-esteem and made me feel very confused. Should I pursue what is important to me? Would I be valued, could I be loved, if I were to be myself? I’m not quite sure how to express the serious dilemma this creates for an adolescent girl who is already self-conscious and whose sense of self is still developing.

  35. Seraphine says:

    Kaimi, Eve can correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think she’s painting it as a black-and-white issue. There are certainly examples (Lawrence Summers) of non-LDS who have issues with women in academia, and there are also certainly many LDS men who do not fit this mold. My guess is that Eve is observing that she’s only encountered LDS men who blatantly questioned her very right to be an academic and pursue intellectual goals. And speaking as someone who has only attended non-LDS universities (10 years total), I’ve never had the kind of experiences with men that Eve describes.

  36. Seraphine says:

    AmyB, good point about the subtle effects of patriarchy/hierarchy. And I’m sorry that you’ve had to deal with such outright hostility. Negotiating being a “smart girl” has caused problems in my life, but it’s never affected my self-image in the way that you describe.

  37. Kaimi says:


    I may have misread Eve’s post. As a general matter, I think that certain phenomena and attitudes are probably heightened among church members, statistically speaking. I just wanted to point out that they do exist outside of the LDS environment. Summers is one very prominent example, but I’ve observed and read about others. It’s only recently that society as a whole has accepted the idea that women are intellectually equal to men, and there are many laggards on this front, not all of them LDS. Not that this excuses church members who hold those attitudes; but it does, I think, put them in context not only as members of a patriarchal church but also a members of a society that still tilts patriarchal, church or no-church.

  38. Kaimi says:


    That’s terrible. Your intelligence is one of the best things about you (and there are many things to like about you) — it’s not at all intimidating. I’m so sorry that you had such a negative message about it given to you.

    I find it positively bizarre that people think that intelligence in a woman is bad. Who wants to have conversations with someone who’s not intelligent? One of the things that attracted me to my wife is her intelligence.

    What should we tell smart girls? The right message, I think (the one I’m planning on telling my daughter) is more along the lines of, “you’re smart, and that’s great. Develop that and see where it takes you, find joy in your talents.

    You may worry that some boys will be intimidated by your intelligence. Don’t worry, and don’t hide your intelligence. There will be a lot of boys you’ll meet who will find a smart girl (or woman) to be interesting and attractive. And those are the boys you’ll want to be dating anyway. So go develop your mind and education; the dating scene will take care of itself.”

  39. Anonymous says:

    “I was specifically told by a man (my father) that boys would be intimidated by me.”

    Your father may have told you this, but in general, I would have to dissagree. I think intimidation occurs at times, but so do a host of other reactions. Your father should have explained things better. Society didnt damage your self esteem. Your father did

  40. linda hatfield-southern says:

    Beauty has so much to with anyone’s survival. I know that when I interview, they don’t see the accomplishments I present, they see the weight I carry.

  41. Clark Goble says:

    Ditto to what Kaimi said. That’s what I plan on telling my daughter when she gets old enough.

  42. Eve says:

    Kaimi, you’re definitely right that sexist attitudes exist outside of the LDS world. I didn’t mean to make it a black-and-white dichotomy; I was only trying to speak from my own experience at universities LDS and non-LDS, comparing the grad students I knew at BYU with those I know now (not even considering ward members, etc.). I actually don’t think it’s an apples-to-oranges comparison because I wasn’t an undergrad at BYU, only a grad student. There’s a definite difference in atmosphere–as Seraphine said, no one, male or female, has once questioned my right to be here or read sexist quotes at me, while at BYU I was fairly regularly asked why I would pursue a graduate degree–by women as well as men, but the greatest hostility came from men.

    My sense is that we’re basically in agreement–that sexism certainly exists both in and out of the Mormon world, but that it’s somewhat more pronounced in the Mormon world than out of it. But I do think things are improving. And again, the majority of men at BYU gave me no problems at all. As is so often the case with so many issues, it was just a loud minority that oculdn’t leave it alone. (And for what it’s worth, my male professors were all very supportive of my education–it was only some male students who couldn’t handle them.)

  43. Eve says:

    Kaimi, I think it’s actually a fascinating question why a man wouldn’t want his wife to be too intelligent. Sheer speculation here, but I wonder if both Mormon men and Mormon women aren’t often trained to see each other in terms of roles–provider/breadwinner/father, mother/nurturer/homemaker–and to seek people to fulfill those roles rather than other characteristics, such as intellectual companionship, that might fall further down the list.

  44. Lucy says:

    Coming from an educated non-LDS family, I have always felt pressure to be smarter. My family was disappointed when I married and even more disappointed when I started having children. Many of my cousins are working on graduate work and often remind me that I could be doing more with my life. It is interesting to see the different cultural expectations of women.

  45. Janna says:

    I’ve struggled, and been limited by, the belief that I have to choose between an education and a husband/family.

  46. Mark Butler says:

    For what it is worth, I adore smart “girls”, at least ones with an abiding testimony. I think intentional failure to develop one’s intellect is a moral defect.

  47. Eve says:

    Lucy, I’m really sorry to hear that’s how you’ve been treated. I so wish we could transcend this smart-but-unfeminine career or grad student woman versus the motherly but not-very-bright stay-at-home mother. It’s so reductive, so inaccurate, and so unfair.

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