Why am I wholly unsurprised that this lovely little nugget of a story came out of Dallas? Granted, it was written and published in my hometown newspaper (seriously, I might as well live in Legoland or Smurf Village given the quality of our newspaper; it’s a total joke), but it was completely inspired by the husband-hunting hags in Dallas.
The feminist in me wants to curl up and die right now out of sheer embarassment for my gender.
Going for the gold
You have to use the right bait if you want to land a rich fish – er, husband
By EILEEN McCLELLAND
Copyright 2007 Houston Chronicle
Dress for Success
Author J.C. Conklin offers the following tips for what to wear while husband-hunting.
Heels: At all costs.
Bra: The pushup is best.
Hair: Long and blond, if at all possible.
Thong: Always, and it should match the bra.
Accessories: Now is not the time for big jewelry or purses. Both scream high maintenance to men.
Makeup: Most men don’t even realize you’re wearing it. They think you naturally look that good. Now is not the time for them to find out otherwise.
Know your strengths: If you have good legs or arms, show them off.
But remember: Dress like the girlfriend, not the one-night stand.
Hunting for a rich husband?
Think camouflage, but not the woodsy kind – unless, of course, you’re at a rattlesnake roundup, prime husband-hunting grounds in Texas.
In an urban milieu, you’ve got to look prosperous enough to blend in with your prey’s elite social circle. For example, drive a leased Lexus only if you can’t borrow a Mercedes.
J.C. Conklin, author of a snarky new novel about Texas women and their pursuit of a rich husband, advises that even spiritual matters matter. Choose a popular Texas religion, Methodist or Baptist.
And don’t hesitate to resort to plastic surgery. At the very least, bleach.
“You should have long hair and if you can, be blond, be blond,” says Conklin, author of The Dallas Women’s Guide to Gold-Digging With Pride (Ballantine, $22.95). “Every man I’ve ever talked to has never described a woman who’s blond as mousy.”
In the satirical novel, ex-New Yorker Jenny Barton, 29, works for a frumpy female boss-from-hell at the Wall Street Journal’s Dallas bureau. Recovering from a recent split from slacker journalist Rafe and under the influence of her blond, husband-hunting roommate, Aimee, Jenny attempts to lure a rich Texan or two.
There are certain parallels to the author’s life. During Conklin’s four years in Dallas, as a reporter for the Wall Street Journal and then the Dallas Morning News, she was surprised to meet women in their 20s stalking wealthy men in their spare time. Women who wear stilettos to shop at Whole Foods. Who liposuction their uncooperative thighs to squeeze into size-4 Vera Wang wedding gowns. Who order room service for their traveling boyfriends to make sure they’re spending the night where they say they are.
Born in Houston, Conklin grew up in upstate New York and graduated from the University of Washington in Seattle with a degree in comparative religion. Landing in Dallas was a culture shock.
The women she met weren’t hunting for just any husband, but the super-rich variety. To that end, they underwent plastic surgery, starved themselves, bought clothes they couldn’t afford and even popped pain killers so they could sleep with guys they found revolting. (Sexy and rich is not that common a combination, Conklin’s characters lament.)
“Some of it’s exaggerated but a lot of it is what people told me,” said Conklin, now 29 and living in Austin. “There is a high premium on looks. I don’t think that’s exaggerated. There is a high premium on tracking the men. There has been breaking and entering, or breaking into e-mail at the very least.”
And when they weren’t snooping, they were grooming.
“You can’t be too overt,” Conklin said. “You can’t have a short skirt and a lot of cleavage. You have to choose one or the other. You have to imagine what he would be thinking of you as a wife. Dress appropriately, not desperately. Heels are always good. Accentuate the assets that you have, not the style of the day, because men never know what’s in. They only know what looks good on you.”
Other strategies apply once you have set your sights on a particular target.
“Find out what he likes so you can pop those things into the conversation before he does. And learn to cook one really phenomenal dish so it looks like you’re a good cook.” You can always hire a chef after the nuptials.
It helps if you’re not too squeamish to engage in sports, or better yet, hunting. Wrangle an invitation to a rattlesnake roundup.
“Anytime you show no fear of blood or killing that adds to your ranking,” Conklin said. And Texas guys reportedly love to play with rattlesnakes. “I saw a guy holding five rattlesnakes by the tail in his mouth. His left hand was all shriveled from the venom. It’s a very macho, very Texas thing to do.”
Conklin’s Dallas friends had jobs, careers even, but didn’t expect to work for very long. After the wedding, the marriage becomes a full-time job.
“What you have to do to keep the rich husbands is just amazing,” she said. “All the exercising, all the devotion to this other person. It’s not your life. It’s the other person’s life and you’re just staffing it.”
Still, there was something about their goal-oriented pursuit that started to change career-girl Conklin’s thinking about the whole marriage thing.
“I didn’t husband-hunt for a rich guy,” she said, “but I was dating a lot of guys who were slacker-reporter guys, and being in Dallas made me realize that was a dead-end proposition. It made me look for guys who wanted the things that I wanted, like a family. In New York, you don’t think about getting married until you’re well into your 30s.”
Some of the changes she made when she moved to Dallas made her more approachable, she said, more marriageable. In addition to becoming nicer and less competitive, she said, “I got a lot blonder.
“I started to work out a lot more. I never used to get my nails done, never used to get my eyebrows waxed, all the beauty maintenance. And when I was living in Dallas, I was wearing heels every day, skirts, suits, very dressed.”
Today, she has an 11-month-old son and a daughter on the way. And yes, she is married, not to a millionaire but to a guy with a stable income and goals she shares.
“All my friends in New York are living the kind of life I led 10 years ago,” she said. “I got married last year. That’s a very Texas influence, I would say.”
As if I really needed another reason to despise Dallas and its disturbingly pervasive influence on the way that Texas is perceived…
Honestly, though, I think what bothers me more than anything is not the utterly desperate ends that these women will go to in order to line their pockets, but rather the men who so eagerly accept them as wives. What does this say about them? I don’t know what the general consensus is, but I can tell you that every single time I see a man with a trophy wife or girlfriend on his arm, the first thought that comes to my mind is, “What an insecure moron.”
See, I think it says a lot more about the man than it does the woman — and maybe that’s just me. Unfortunately, we still live in a society where so many young women are told that they need a “provider” and so many of them are valued based solely upon their material accumulations and outward appearance. We perpetuate this in our society and until that vicious cycle ends, we will always have misguided women. That’s an argument for another day, though.
But we’ve never prided ourselves as a society on allowing people to prey on our money and take advantage of our insecurities. Those are things which, should they happen to you, you’d normally correct or hide or both. Yet, here we have these men — whether they be aesthetically-challenged, emotionally-challenged, or simply common-sense-challenged — who are proud of their trophy wife investment! They display them proudly and the message that they hope to convey is, “I’m a success both in my business and my personal life and I have this fine piece of ass to show for it!”
Instead, what they are really saying is, “I’m deeply insecure and/or stupid and willing to forego having any kind of real love, companionship or meaningful relationship with a woman and instead require this Botox-ed, silicone-enhanced, bleached-blonde, Mystic-tanned, money-hungry bimbo to overcompensate for my many shortcomings. Now, can I please have some A-1 for my steak and a piece of lettuce for the lady?” Good job, guys.