How to Know if You Are a Trophy Wife
The categorization "trophy wife" is a problematic one, to say the least. It is rarely used as a term of affection, more commonly employed to deride both a husband and wife (or a wife and wife in lesbian partnerships). The implication is that a woman is desired for her physical beauty or status, rather than her personality and romantic compatibility. Someone who seeks this kind of wife is looking to use them as a reflection of their own status, implying they will be treated as a commodity more than a person. While it has much to do with perception as it does reality, oneHOWTO explains how to know if you are a trophy wife. Doing this might help you understand your relationship better and help implement changes if they're needed.
Characteristics of a trophy wife
The characteristics we share here may seem generic and reductive, but that is only because the term "trophy wife" is a generic and reductive one. It doesn't take into account the specificities of each individual and is another reason why its use is often problematic to begin with. We use these only as a general guide to explain the perception of a trophy wife.
You don't work
Trophies are kept in a cabinet, to be looked at and admired. They represent for the owner a token of achievement, but they are not necessarily of much value in and of themselves. When you apply these characteristics of a trophy to a person's wife, you get a better idea of why it runs the risk of dehumanizing them.
In the stereotypical relationship where a person has a trophy wife, the husband is the breadwinner. He is well paid and this access to cash is part of the allure of being a trophy wife. It suggests security, freedom to live without working and having luxuries readily available to you.
The term trophy wife will often be used in the same breath as the term "kept woman". This means that the wife doesn't have a career for her general cost of living upkeep. This doesn't mean they don't have business affairs or financial responsibilities, but a traditional trophy wife will not have a specific career while still being able to purchase as if they were making good money.
You spend a lot of time on maintaining good looks
Like an actual trophy or statue, trophy wives are coveted for their looks. This means not only keeping yourself healthy and trim, but staying attractive as you age. While there are many benefits of staying in shape and keeping a good beauty regimen, trophy wives have added pressure to maintain a certain level of attractiveness. If a man were to marry a woman based solely on her looks, this relationship might change as the level of attractiveness also does.
Not only will you spend time on your looks, but also money. If you feel pressure to maintain the level of your trophy relationship, you may find yourself inclined to turn to certain measures. These can include spending a lot of money on beauty products and treatments. It might also mean spending money on cosmetic surgery to temper the effects age has on the body. It might also mean feeling pressure to achieve a "perfect" look which is not only unattainable, but may provide certain health risks.
People look up to you on social media
With the importance of individualism and lifestyle on social media, it is no surprise that many trophy wives find themselves with a lot of followers. Many of the trends and posts which become popular online have to do with lifestyle branding. Many of the people who promote these particularly lifestyles can end up making a lot of money by doing so.
The trophy wife lifestyle is often praised online as it is the epitome of this carefree idealism which social media often tries to sell. With visual media being so important, the narcissism proliferated by Facebook and Instagram sells well. If you are a trophy wife, you can show off your personal beauty, your lavish lifestyle and enviable activities. All of these are often well rewarded online, so expect your followers to grow.
People are jealous of you
If you are a trophy wife, you have certain things about your life made. You are, to some extent, charmed and your access to wealth and status are desirable to many. Because of this, you might find people becoming quite jealous of you. This may be simply getting looks as you walk down the street or it could be something even more sinister.
Online or in real life, you might find people growing so jealous they become obsessed with you. In some ways, this is a compliment. If it goes too far, it can be a burden. You might find certain people trying to get in contact with you, following you online or even in person. This can be bothersome, even if innocent of criminal behavior. It can also lead to stalking.
You are not valued for your opinions on some things
All humans want to be considered worthwhile and have their opinion respected. If you are a stereotypical trophy wife, then your husband or partner is unlikely to have chosen you for your intelligence. Although it is important to remember that being a trophy wife doesn't mean you aren't intelligent, typically they value some types of information over others.
If you find yourself being asked questions about beauty regimens much more than your political opinion, then it is possible you are a trophy wife. There are different types of intelligence and being a trophy wife doesn't disqualify you from any of them. However, the general perception might be that you are prized for your looks and not intelligence.
You get hit on all the time
Everybody can get covetous from time to time, but many men in particular find themselves attracted to women out of their reach. This is especially the case if they are the kind of people who are accustomed to getting what they want.
Being a trophy wife makes you desirable, but it can also make you be objectified. This is why many men and women might hit on you in the attempt to "own" you like a commodity. They may even be incredibly inappropriate about it, especially if they think you are vacuous or a "bimbo".
You are young
Many people might find they succeed financially later in life. Or, simply, they work harder when they are younger to build up their finances. This often means certain wealthy people will be older when they want to find a partner, but said partner doesn't have to be the same age. Many men who have trophy wives are not necessarily pick of the litter themselves. They seek younger, more desirable women, who can make them look better in comparison.
Are there different types of trophy wife?
While the previous descriptions are a good guide of what entails being a trophy wife, what is valued in a wife often depends on the society these values reflect. If you are among the jet setting elite, then physical beauty and reflections of wealth will likely be desirable traits in a trophy wife. However, if you move in different circles, then these parameters might change.
This is because the idea of being a trophy wife reflects and reinforces patriarchal social structures. Such patriarchal structures can be reinforced by any gender, but the prevalence is with heteronormative males who seek women for their cachet rather than for their core values.
If you are a stereotypical nerd, you might be just as likely to seek a trophy wife as any other male. You might, however, value different characteristics in the specific women in question.
The stereotype of a trophy wife is of a man seeking a woman who will reflect well on him due to her being a status symbol. However, this doesn't mean it is only heterosexuals who might value style over substance when it comes to finding a partner. If your partner is with you because you reflect well on them in their particular social milieu, more than your personality and compatibility, then you may be in a trophy relationship.
Positives of being a trophy wife
If this article seems judgy against people who may be considered trophy wives, we want to stress that we do not want to demean any individuals or their relationships. There is certainly an allure to being a trophy wife. It can relieve the pressures of working to focus on other things. It provides financial security. This is something very important to all of us, especially if you grew up without it.
While being in a trophy relationship with a man or woman might mean you often don't work, it doesn't mean you don't have other opportunities to pursue. Often many trophy wives are called women of leisure, owing to all the free time they have. This time might be used to better a community, work on a creative endeavor or involve yourself in another worthwhile project. You may also have access to funds which can be used in positive ways.
It is equally possible that a person truly value looks, status and wealth. If your husband or partner also values these things, then perhaps it is enough for a stable and happy marriage.
Pressures of being a trophy wife
The downsides of being a trophy wife, however, are also important to consider. If you marry a husband or partner because you are valued as a status symbol, it might not be enough for a solid foundation of marriage. Many marriages don't last because the novelty of some things like physical attractiveness can wear off.
There is also a deep pressure to maintain certain things, such as levels of attractiveness. If you are a trophy wife and your husband only values you for your implied status, then when your social cachet is lowered, you might find they are less interested in you. If you are valued for your intelligence, personality and companionship, then these are more stable foundations on which to build a marriage.
You might find all the attention and need to maintain social status tiring. If you always have to be fabulous and give off a certain air, the pressure can be exhausting. Keeping up appearances of your particular lifestyle can also be very costly, putting a strain on financial resources.
Being a trophy wife can also have a detrimental effect on your self-worth. If you put so much time into being a certain way, it might not reflect your true values. Pretending to be someone you are not, or exaggerating certain characteristics, can take its toll on anybody.
If your husband or partner values your looks and status more than your core values, then you might find yourself being overlooked in important areas. As you don't earn a wage, you might find yourself without financial independence. Instead, you depend on your husband, it can become particularly difficult if you were to break up.
If you are a feminist, then you may find that the idea of a trophy wife helps to reinforce tired and misogynistic patriarchal values, rather than challenging them. A trophy wife is so-called because of how they relate to their partner (often a man). This helps to take away a woman's agency and seems to value a powerful man who can look after them rather than self-empowerment or a mutually beneficial and equal partnership.
Commodification and objectification of another person is a slippery slope. Trophy wives are perhaps becoming less common, but the rise of social media might hint otherwise. It is important in life to be a well rounded individual. If you are only valued for social standing, then you may find that you lose self-esteem once the trappings of this particular type of marriage fall away.
It is not inhuman to find someone attractive and to value them for this. It is unwise to make this the only factor in marrying a person. Many women and men have worked hard to bring equality into marriage, to the benefit of all. The idea of trophy wives is at best difficult to reconcile with equality. At worst, it works against it.
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