Turn and face the strange

By DEIRDRE FULTON  |  February 13, 2008

The response (33 submissions so far, and about 100 hits per day) has been varied. There are sincere entries, like this one from user “Seele-brent:” “It is safe to say that she would have more than a passing interest in the arts, both visual and literary. That strange mixture of career-minded and family-oriented woman would surely be present. A brisk confidence in everything she does, but not to the point of arrogance. She would at the very least tolerate my filthy habit of smoking cigarettes and, preferably, not imbibe in too much alcohol. An openness to political and theological debate are grand, as long as neither is taken too seriously.”

Some are stranger. “Treesunrise” wants his woman to be “healthy” — someone who “avoids meet [sic] unless she prayerfully hunted it, does not wear high heels or undue makeup, does not shave or wax, has biek [sic] and rides it, composts and grows pants [sic?].”

Then there are those submissions that seem to be seeking escorts, rather than describing their ideal mate.

“Should not be bald or have a super-short (crew cut) hair cut,” “Ephran” begins innocently. But then he goes on: “Skin should have very few blemishes or scars. Jaw should not be square and should not have a cleft in her chin. Slender (but not extremely thin), in good physical shape, athletic. Breasts that are not very large, but proportional to the size and shape of her body. Vagina should not have very loose or pendulous lips. Preferably shaved or trimmed. Naturally grey/green eyes or contacts are appreciated.” Pendulous lips? We shudder.

No matter how bizarre, Delia crafts individual responses to each submission, which she posts in the comments section. Her responses are warm and compassionate, and each one includes not only her brief interpretation of the entry, but a link to some relevant article from the Internet.

A man who says he wants a mediator and an adventurer, for example, gets a link to thespiritedwoman.com; someone who says he prefers curvy women to skinny “sorority girls” is commended for his conception of a healthy body, and gets a link to a book called Changing Media Images of Weight. Delia spends about 20 minutes on each response, she says.

“I want each response to address what’s special about their Perfect Woman,” she writes in an e-mail. “Their submissions make me want to do a little investigation.”

She’ll have to do much more than surface exploration when the winner is announced on February 25. “I’m going to be this other person every day,” she says, and although she acknowledges that there might be limits to how much she’s willing to change, either physically or mentally, Delia intends to immerse herself as fully as possible — to “really try to absorb what that person wants.

“I’m going to try to the best of my abilities to do a really good job at being their Perfect Woman.”

In this way, she is challenging her own self-image issues, in addition to those of other people. If someone wants “a great personality,” does she have to change? And when she meets the winning man, how will he judge her perception of humor, of intelligence, of whatever traits he has specified?

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