A few months ago, I ran into a friend of mine, out for a walk with a male companion. The first thing that struck me about my friend’s date was that he wasn’t very handsome and well-dressed. But the next thing I noticed about him were his lively and intelligent eyes and the laugh lines around them. In the brief chat that the three of us had on that street Corner, he impressed me with how charming he was and how attentive he was to my friend. I walked away very pleased that she had found someone so appropriate.
My friend is not a shallow person, but she clearly felt uncomfortable with the social pressure of dating someone who didn’t look the way she thought her escort should. She undoubtably knew, without my saying a word, what I had thought when I first laid eyes on him, and I wish that we were close enough for me to tell her what I thought next. I felt very sad for her when I heard they had broken up, and even sadder when she showed up at a dinner party we were both attending with a stunningly handsome man who treated her as if she were a not-very-intelligent-child of five.
I am no soothsayer, but I feel sure that my friend had a much better chance of happiness and laughter with the man she was with when I ran into her that day, even if she had to stoop a little to kiss him. And yes, women like her throw away great relationships all the time (or nip them in the bud before they even begin) because the man is inappropriate in some way – too short, not handsome enough, not well dressed enough, not intellectual or wealthy enough, the wrong race or religion, too young or too old.
The social pressure isn’t limited to women; in fact, it may be worse for men. If there’s one thing I know as a doctor, it’s that you can’t control other people’s behavior. But if you take one piece of advice from this book, I hope it’s this: “throw away all your old preconceived notions about what Prince charming is going to look like, how old he will be, what he will wear, or what he’s going to talk about at parties; it will make you much more likely to find him.
Dr. Marianne Legato, Professor Emerita of Clinical Medicine at Columbia University is an internationally known academic physician, author, lecturer, and specialist in gender-specific medicine. She is founding member of the International Society for Gender Medicine and also the founder and director of The Partnership for Gender-Specific Medicine at Columbia University and its next iteration, The Foundation for Gender-Specific Medicine. These enterprises are the first collaborations between academic medicine and the private sector focused solely on gender-specific medicine: the science of how normal human biology differs between men and women and of how the diagnosis and treatment of disease differs as a function of gender and sex. Her ground breaking textbook on Gender-and Sex Specific Medicine has been published in 2017 in the 3rd edition.
She has published extensively on Gender and Sex Specific Medicine, both scientifically and for the lay public. She is also the founding editor of the journal Gender Medicine, and the Journal Gender and Genome, published for the scientific community. In 1992, Dr. Legato won the American Heart Association’s Blakeslee Award for the best book written for the lay public on cardiovascular disease. She is a practicing internist in New York City and has been listed each year in New York Magazine’s “Best Doctors” since the feature’s inception in 1993.