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Published: May 23rd, 2007 » Tags: Book Reviews

Does This Dress Make Me Look Fat? I recently read through a pair of enlightening and entertaining Christian Life/Relationship paperbacks collaboratively authored by Stephen James and David Thomas. The works are titled “Does This Dress Make Me Look Fat?” and “Yup.” “Nope.” “Maybe.” The former is “A Man’s Guide to the Loaded Questions Women Ask,” the later is “A Woman’s Guide to Getting More Out of the Language of Men.” Fun, educational reads, both of them.

I’ll start with a quick review of “Does This Dress Make Me Look Fat?” A review of “Yup.” “Nope.” “Maybe.” will follow shortly.

First, however, I think a quick word should be said about egalitarianism and complementarianism.

I am joyfully partnered for life to a wonderful, life-giving woman. She is my joy, love, and strength. In all honesty, I would be utterly lost without her daily guidance and foundational presence. I also have a set of gorgeous twin girls who are old enough to cosmetically decorate their faces, of their own volition. I have been living in deep relationship with these three women for enough years to know they need and desire things that are very different from the instinctive needs and desires of my son and me. It’s O.K! We are different; I know it and they know it too! We could pretend it is not so, but then not one of us would be honestly embracing our God-given genders. We are different, but we are equals! I would never lord over my wife or daughters like an idiotic, back-water barbarian who unwisely uses scripture as chauvinistic leverage. Never would I do such a thing! I also would never bar my daughters or my wife or any other woman from senior leadership positions in Christ’s church, if they are so equipped and called. It’s just silly to do such asinine things. We can try to kick goads, but our feet will just hurt.

Yes, men and women are different, and we have different gender-based desires and needs, but we are beyond equal in leadership abilities, talents, and gifts, especially in Christ’s church. So, gender differences, in my house, exist, and are celebrated, but they do not result in inequality. I guess I’m looking for a landing strip somewhere between - or better yet, beyond - egalitarianism and complementarianism. The best answer always exists somewhere beyond the polarized ends of any topic.

That said, I’ll pick back up with my thoughts on “Does This Dress Make Me Look Fat?

Does This Dress Make Me Look Fat? is built upon a few of the “loaded questions” seemingly faced by all men over the long course of a healthy relationship. Men, I promise, a quick look at the book’s table of contents will induce a bit of soulful laughter. The chapter titles are not inherently funny but you will undoubtedly recognize some of them! You have probably heard all of them at some point in your relationship! Has your girlfriend or wife ever asked you questions like: “Does this dress make me look fat?” “Do you notice anything different about the house?” “Do you think that woman is pretty?” “Am I like my mother?” “What are you thinking about?” I have heard a few of those myself!

These loaded questions, according to James & Thomas, are merely surface questions. The loaded-surface questions point toward much deeper questions based upon even deeper feelings, emotions and needs. These feelings, emotions and needs are shared by women everywhere, presumably. We men, however, and more often than not, drop the relational ball when confronted with these questions, respond to them poorly, and miss out on rich opportunities to meet feminine needs and engage deeply with our girlfriends and wives, relationally speaking. Our relationships with our wives should be about way more than sex. We should be meeting other deep needs and desires too. First, however, we have to realize they actually exist. This book is a good starting point for this sort of recognition.

That said, I’m not 100% sure if the deeper questions pointed to by the loaded-surface questions are true all of the time, but that is not the inspiration I took from the book. The point is to begin to actually think deeply about what your girlfriend or wife is saying to you and react in an intentional sort of way so as to deepen and grow together, relationally. She’s probably already doing just that … but you - man - are probably missing it. The point is to treat our girlfriends and wives extravagantly, as Christ would his Church. We are called by God to do so. In fact, this theological imperative is a good segue to my final thought re: the book.

The book concludes each chapter with theological implications and considerations. This is an especially appreciated feature. God’s role in our lives is not limited. It includes our relationships. We should, therefore, consider the theological implications of relationships lived and lives shared. This book is structured in a way that will help you to beginning thinking theologically about common life issues and events. This practice is worth so much more than the price of the book itself.

I enjoyed reading this book. My favorite story can be found in the chapter titled “Do You Think That Woman Is Pretty?” I enjoyed it so much, I read it aloud to my own wife over breakfast this morning. I’ll have to set the scene before quoting my favorite portion.

The story involves three people: 1. Ethan & Julie (a young, hip, attractive couple); 2. A female barista working at one of Seattle’s many coffee houses. Scene: Ethan and Julie are holding hands and chatting over coffee. The barista passes by the table and Ethan’s eyes track straight to her posterior. Julie catches him and recoils! She pulls her hand away from his as if she had been bitten. Ethan tries in vain to deny that he was actually looking at the butt of a passerby.

This is where the story gets good, and deserves a quoted excerpt:

About this time, the barista in question came out from the back room, passing right back by the table. Julie reached out and gently grabbed the woman’s arm, stopping her cold in her tracks. “Excuse me,” she said with all the pleasantness she could muster.

“Yes. Can I help you?” the barista asked politely.

“No, but you might be able to help him. My boyfriend here was just admiring your tush. I thought he might want to meet you.”

Ethan sank low in his chair - his urban coolness melting and quickly evaporating - while two women scowled derisively at him.

My wife loved the story over breakfast, of course. She thanked me for reading it aloud to her. I left the breakfast table wondering why in the world I would ever read a story like this to her. I totally equipped her. I’ll be extra careful at all public dining spots from this day forward. You can count on it!

One Response to “A Man’s Guide: Does This Dress Make Me Look Fat?”

  1. […] already offered my thoughts and questions re: “Does This Dress Make Me Look Fat? A Man’s Guide to the Loaded Questions Women […]

    A Woman's Guide: Yup. Nope. Maybe. | Lo-Fi Tribe

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