Ladies, is it not true that there is one and only one reason why we do this to men? See if your assessment lines up with mine . . .
Essentially, in evaluating my own heart and observing the actions of others, I believe the motive behind asking men questions such as these will always fall into into one of two categories:
1) I am insecure and need reassurance from a man, any man, that I am attractive;
2) I know I'm attractive and I want to force every man in my path to acknowledge it.
I am confident that these are the only two reasons in a woman's heart why she would ever ask a man questions of this nature. And although they appear to be opposites, the irony is, both stem from pride. This is true for me. Is it true for you? Let's look at Option 1.
Insecurity is generally a fear that people will not like us for some reason and ultimately reject us. Insecurity is the need to be accepted by others and to gain their approval. When we are feeling ugly, fat, or undesirable in any way, we will often seek the approval of men by asking them to reassure us that we are gorgeous. Option 1, in my opinion, is the most common reason why women ask such questions of men and accounts for 99% of these types of discussions. Truth be told, the real motive here is a need to find completeness in something other than God. When we are not completely satisfied in who we are in Christ, we start to look to others to give us that validation. This might be obvious. But what is not so obvious is that when we are insecure, the number one priority on our list is self. Fear stops us from being real with another person. It causes us to withdraw and oftentimes demands that others go through unrealistic lengths to comfort us.
Although not as common as Option 1, Option 2 is still a very active catalyst for these types of questions. You look good, and you know it. You see that man looking at you, and you know what he's thinking but you want to hear him say it. What better way to drag a compliment out of him than to ask a ridiculous question that you know is obviously not true?
When I was in high school, I knew a girl who was the master of this technique. She had great legs and she knew it. When the weather started warming up, she'd put on a pair of short shorts and strut in front of all the guys. Then she'd take her long hair out of its ponytail, shrug her shoulders in despair and exclaim, "I'm so ugly!" We'd all watch in amazement as the boys would nearly trip over their own feet, careful not to drool on her as they approached her with their heartfelt words of consolation.
Sometimes she did not have to beg for the compliment. Sometimes a man would come right out and say, "Wow, you look great today." But just because she wanted to hear those words again, she'd say, "No, you're wrong! I'm hideous!" Or something equally nonsensical. The poor man would then fall right into her trap, insisting that she was the most gorgeous creature he'd ever seen.
Obviously, both reasons for making these comments are examples of depravity in action. Although insecurity is the more common of the two, let me encourage you not to go down that path with your husband. When a woman is feeling pretty low, she normally asks this question because she wants consolation that she is loved. The problem is, it never works. (Men, if you're reading this, pay close attention:) The reason it never works is because a woman who is feeling insecure has already made up her mind that she is unattractive. Ladies, isn't it true that no matter what he says, we will be inconsolable?
Ladies, isn't it true that no matter what he says, we will be inconsolable? If the man says, "Yes, you're fat," we will burst into tears and feel even worse. If he answers, "No, I don't think so," we have either forced him into a position where he feels he needs to lie, or we have enouraged him to give an honest assessment, only to accuse him of lying as we run to another room, slamming the door behind us.
How we should respond instead. Men have an overwhelming desire to fix problems. They don't like seeing women upset. So when we appeal to a man to make us feel better and then ask him the one question for which he has no satisfactory answer, he is going to be left feeling exasperated and frustrated that he couldn't help.
So what should we do? First, when we are tempted to go to men for comfort, we should stop and seek comfort from God. We should focus on the fact that our fickle feelings are not reality. Our feelings do not dictate the truth of whether or not our husbands find us attractive.
Secondly, when we need comfort and words of affirmation from our husbands, we should simply say so. We should simply be honest and tell our husbands, "I am feeling low today," (or unattractive, or fat, etc). We should openly ask our husbands for the comfort we need, but resist the temptation to ask him what he thinks of our weight. The question is a trap for him, but also for us. An answer in the affirmative will only confirm our suspicions that we are ugly; an answer in the negative will leave us wondering if he is lying to spare our feelings.
Finally, when we are unhappy with our appearance, we should take an honest assessment of the situation and see what can be done to change it. The change does not have to be drastic. Maybe we can exercise more. Perhaps we can give up drinking soda or having that late night snack. Physical exercise and healthy eating is an excellent way to discipline the flesh and bring it under the authority of Christ. And remember, while God is faithful to complete the work He began in us (Philippians 1:6), our physical imperfections can often be the very limitations we need to help keep us humble.