There is something intriguing about the trophy wife phenomenon, especially in the sphere of the stratospherically wealthy. I don’t want to hate on trophy wives here, but I just find the whole thing so utterly fascinating and foreign, and I am quite interested when it seems to be working for some of these (in my mind) mismatched couples. First, we need to define what a trophy wife is. This is just my definition, but a trophy wife is generally not the total package, unless your definition of the total package is extremely manicured, with a high premium placed on her looks and appearance. Personally, if a woman is extremely accomplished and also marries someone who is even more accomplished, I see that as less “trophy wife” and more “marrying well”. Yes, they both have negative connotations, but the latter is usually more a result of the situations the accomplished woman might find herself in; as in, regularly interacting with other high-powered people means you may find your match among them. I don’t like the idea of “marrying well” since it implies that if you don’t marry someone who is super rich and successful, then you haven’t married well, but financial security is important to a lot of people (there is no guarantee of financial security but that’s another story).
Back to my point about trophy wives. A trophy wife is an extreme version of a situation that happens often in relationships: one person brings the tools of comfort and convenience to the table (money), and the other is a good companion who happens to bring less of the tools but more of the physical attributes which Person 1 has deemed to be important. Example: Uber-wealthy real estate developer marries a woman 20 years his junior who also happens to have a penchant for pilates, Louboutin heels and never leaving the house without a full face of makeup. Is this wrong or bad somehow? Hell no! People can and should choose whomever they like in their relationships and there is no accounting for taste. Maybe you don’t find a woman who needs to wear a designer handbag everyday and take thousands of Instagram selfies appealing, but some guy out there does. It might seem obscene and tacky to post about your house and your cars and all the stuff you have, but if that’s what someone else likes to do, then go for it. There was a show recently on TLC called the The Secret Lives of Trophy Wives, and here’s just one clip from that show that gives you a pretty good idea what the rest of it will be like. Leyla Milani and Jennifer Stano and the other two less attractive ones are just a few of the myriad trophy wives that populate the LA/Orange County scene. Television shows alone document their proliferation (Real Housewives of Orange County and Beverly Hills and pretty much anything else on Bravo set in California). They’re out there. Some like being called trophy wives. Some celebrate the fact that they don’t work or do much of anything else, and who am I to call them vapid? It’s their prerogative. But I just have a few questions for the trophy wives out there: Do you think there will always be an imbalance of power in your relationship? Do you ever get uncomfortable when you think of the disparity in assets between the two of you? Do you think your husband values your opinions and intelligence? Does that matter to you? Does he truly treat you and other women with respect or does he see you as a caretaker and playing a traditional feminine role, and would be upset if you broke that expected mold? Is there more to the trophy wife life than collection of luxury goods and leisure time? If you don’t Instagram it, did it happen? How much time do you spend with your husband?
I don’t think there are easy answers. The wives of investment bankers often get a bad rap too, but I thought this New York Magazine article was rather humanizing, even through its layers of elitism. I may not want to be one of them, but their story is one I can’t look away from.