Trophy. I have always been one.

© Paul Empson All Rights Reserved

Trophy (troh-fee):
Anything taken in war, hunting, competition, especially when preserved as a memento; spoil, prize, or award.
Anything serving as a token or evidence of victory, valor, skill.
A symbol of success that is used to impress others.
A carving, painting, or other representation of objects associated with or symbolic of victory or achievement.

Recently I recounted a previous experience from my youth that dealt with my “relationship” with an older man. The story, what I remember of that time, developed into a classic tale of the vulnerabilities of youth and the perverse mismanagement of power and celebrity. My intention was to share what that weird imbalance felt like, looks like and, in my case, share the emotional ramifications that occurred as the result of this relationship.

Why share dirty pain you ask? I share/shared because I can. I share because someone has to speak up, speak out, speak! I share because maybe my story will help someone else.

A reader left a comment on the article that rocked me to my core. A simple sentence, but one that accurately defines my ENTIRE life’s experience with men.

The reader’s comment: “I always wonder when I see these trophy girls what they would say if they could find their voices.”

Trophy girls. Trophy. Yes, my friend, I am one of them—a trophy girl who has grown into a trophy woman. Do you want to know what I have to say? Do you want to know what it is like to be an object of desire? Do you want to know what it is like to be a possession that turns into an obsession? Do you think that if I tell all about the soul-crushing vacancy in my being that threatens to eat me alive, I can help someone else? I sincerely hope so.

Let’s take a brief tour behind the scenes of sexual objectification in the land of Sodom and Gomorrah, otherwise known as the 90’s: In the summer of ’96, I was the arm candy of a very successful entertainment attorney. When I say successful, I mean extraordinarily prosperous. It was a time of private jets, private islands, penthouses, Ferraris, caviar, East Hampton, diamonds, cocaine, exclusive parties and a bird’s eye view of the 1%.

The keys to the Porche were handed over to me, along with a set of keys that opened the locks of a luxurious apartment on East 75th Street and Madison Avenue in NYC. A helicopter was always on standby, just in case. The jet resided next to John F. Kennedy Jr.’s private set of wings, stocked with champagne, fueled up, engines engaged, navigation already pre-set.

We attended lavish balls. We had brunch at the Harvard Club, drinks at the Yale Club, sex in the Presidential Suite of the Four Season’s hotel.

Life was grand. (Not.)

While I was in the company of my attorney boyfriend, I had the rare opportunity to speak with some of the WORLD’s most influential individuals. Scratch that, I spoke with some of the world’s most prominent MEN. Women of influence were scarce, perhaps because women with power usually pick playmate’s who have more to offer than superficial bullshit.

I did meet one man that changed my life for the better, though.

He was one of my boyfriend’s clients. His net worth hovered somewhere in the billions. He had tried marriage three times. He had sired eight children with seven women. A James Bond movie was filmed in his main residence. It had an elevator plated in gold.

One day, while we were all on holiday in Aspen, he looked at me and said this: “Educate yourself. Beauty is skin deep; an educated mind is eternally stunning.”

I blinked.

Did he just insult me? Was that a backhanded slap out of left field? Does he think I am an idiot?

In his own way, he saw something in me that he wanted to groom. Something he thought I should nurture. My mind. Later that evening, he presented me with a gift. It was a book.

“This one, “A People’s History of the United States” by Howard Zinn,” he said. “Start with this. You will be able to carry on a sophisticated conversation as well as delighting the eyes.”

Hang on a minute. Was he suggesting that my life is one of a Courtesan? Or a Geisha? Or was it even a cruder suggestion, maybe in his eyes, I looked like a high-priced call girl.

I read the book. I have always been an avid reader, by the way. I also disengaged from that lifestyle. The attorney was in shock. How could I leave HIM? Who did I think I was? Didn’t I know that I belonged to him? Ah, there it is. I was an object. A sexual object. His possession. His obsession. I have never felt uglier in my life.

Looking back even further, I realize this has been my path, filled with potholes I have navigated all my life.  Like a lot of women, I have unwittingly been someone to catch, trap, ensnare, keep, control and devour.

For me, It all started in high school, well actually earlier, but that is a different conversation. On an ordinary every day kind of day, I was sexually assaulted. Trapped. Devoured. Then, later, when I was started to walk the yellow brick road of fashion, I was ensnared by an agent. I was 16; he was in his forties. Didn’t I know that I was everything to him? Possessed. Obsessed. Control of the trophy. That is the deal. The police officer rounded out the trio. How could I deny his love? Catch me if you can.

I married at 18, his biggest trophy. He proceeded to siphon (still does) and profit off of my beauty that I never asked for, sometimes wish I never had.

Even now, it is a rare day that I can have a conversation with a man, married or not, who does not secretly or overtly want to catch, trap, ensnare, keep, control and devour me.

The dust has built up, encasing my heart. Jaded? Yes, I am. Hopeful and trusting, still. Why share this with you? Because every time you see a beautiful woman on the arm of a man, or alone somewhere in public, I want you to remember that she is not just flesh. She is more than her outside reflects, more than you can imagine. Don’t rob yourself of the privilege to know her by thinking of her as a snack. She is someone’s daughter. She is still a little girl in her heart.  She is more than a trophy to be paraded around as your dick extension.


I have always been one.


Julie Anderson

Julie Anderson is the Creator and Publisher of Feminine Collective. Julie was inspired to create this safe place for women to share their secrets, desires, triumphs and pain as the antithesis of what mainstream media offers women today. In her column Pursuit of Perfection, she explores the importance of rectifying the balance of inner and outer beauty through essays, poems and articles on self-esteem, shame, family, and self- acceptance.

12 thoughts on “Trophy. I have always been one.

  1. SA Smith

    Julie I freaking LOVE this piece.

    “Because every time you see a beautiful woman on the arm of a man, or alone somewhere in public, I want you to remember that she is not just flesh. She is more than her outside reflects, more than you can imagine. Don’t rob yourself of the privilege to know her by thinking of her as a snack. She is someone’s daughter. She is still a little girl in her heart. She is more than a trophy to be paraded around as your dick extension. ”

    This should be on billboards EVERYWHERE.

    It’s tough being a woman, it’s even tougher being a pretty woman…I can’t even imagine what it must be like to be an ideal woman like a model. We women all have thoughts, ideas and MINDS. As I always say, “we are more than the size of our jeans…so treat us as such.”

    Love, love, love this Julie. You are sharing things that just aren’t said and we all love you for it!

    Great stuff!!

  2. Mary Rowen

    I hear you, Kitt. Those days with the mirror…I remember them all too well. I’m so glad you got healthy and were able to recognize your beauty, both inside and out.

  3. Kitt O'MalleyKitt O'Malley

    Thank you for speaking not just on behalf of “trophy girls/women” – but all women. Tragic that we let others and ourselves place value on us based on beauty. I always conveyed intelligence somehow and didn’t believe I was beautiful until later – perhaps by the time I was 30 and met my husband. It was my women friends who helped me learn that I’m beautiful. I never believed what my boyfriends said, for I believed that they were deluded in their state of infatuation or being “in love” with me. I knew that the men who loved me idolized me. I’m a Leo and demand a certain amount of fawning even if I’m insecure (or perhaps because of it).

  4. Kitt O'MalleyKitt O'Malley

    Mary, I picked my skin, too, spending hours a day staring into my bathroom mirror picking, destroying the skin on my face, my arms, my areoles. I starved myself, believing that at 5’7″ and 110 lbs I was fat. Never thought of myself as beautiful. Only later in my life do I realize that I, in fact, was and still am.

  5. Byron Hamel


    As the person who left the comment “I always wonder when I see these trophy girls what they would say if they could find their voices,” I truly hope this was not taken to mean that this is all these women and girls mean to me.

    The idea I meant to speak to is exactly what you’re talking about. I see people in these situations as people who have been categorized, and I feel like we the public rarely get to hear the raw story directly from these women and girls.

    As a person who grew up “an object”, even though I was ridiculed and beaten mercilessly for my physical appearance, I actually felt a great kinship with you as I read through your post, my heart sinking and saddened, and remembering comparatively what it was like to be raped and robbed of my humanity because of my appearance. To me it was the same. To me, when I see a “trophy”, I feel like I’m right there with them, and I wish I could see them break out and shine their individuality and humanity all over the place.

    That’s what I meant. I love and respect you, and I was trying to identify, rather than label you. That story meant a lot to me.


  6. johnmichaelantonio

    Wow wow wow…what a pleasure it is to be connected with you Julie, even if it is still just in the social media sense. You never cease to inspire and awe me with your writing. Your spirit and talent are truly something beautiful to behold.

  7. Renee DeMontRenee DeMont

    Your physical beauty is breathtakingly exceptional but it pales in comparison to your inner beauty, your deep hearted soul that speaks an important truth every time you share. Once again you’ve left me pensive, moved, grateful and proud to be a member of the feminine collective! You rock, Julie. Xo!

  8. Susan P. BlevinsSusan P. Blevins

    When I married my husband in 1972, I was 27 and he was 56. I was very pretty, slim and vivacious (not gorgeous like you Julie!), and he was good-looking, and absolutely convinced that I was his new trophy wife, wife number 3 by the way. But, happily, he had bitten off more than he could chew, and I shrugged off that role and developed my brain and my own identity. The ultimate aid in my transformation came in the form of Jungian psychotherapy when I was 35. It saved my life. I found myself contemplating suicide one day, (to leap or not to leap, that is the question), until my inner voice, or God or the Universe said to me “This is not who you are. You are into life not death.” So that’s when I went into therapy and finally discovered who I am. It was a painful process (I had a demanding therapist, not like so many who are enablers only thinking of their bank accounts), but no question it was the best thing I ever did for myself. I was able to stay with him 35 years until his death at age 90. I finally conquered my anger and indignation and arrived at compassion. I had plunged into my pain and misery and come out the other side of the tidal wave confident and secure in who I am. Now I do my utmost to help young women with their self-image and self-respect, which so often is very low.
    I’ve got the feeling Julie that this story of yours will unleash some long responses from many women. Thank you for writing it. Makes me feel I should write my own story. I LOVE this community of women, and men who love and respect women! Thank you for founding FC! xo

  9. Mary Rowen

    Julie, this essay speaks to me very deeply. As odd as it may seem, I longed to be a trophy during my teens and 20s. I’d been a tall, pretty child with very low self esteem–that’s also a conversation for another day–and my low self-esteem turned me into something physically unattractive for many years. In middle school, I began eating too much, then became anorexic in high school, and eventually learned to vomit at will. And so, I was always bloated, my skin broke out a lot (and I’d make it worse by picking at it) and my teeth began to rot. Not anyone’s definition of a trophy. But I wanted to be one so much! I’d see rock stars and celebrities with beautiful girls on their arms, and longed to live that lifestyle. It looked so glamorous. Once, when I was in my early 20’s, I went to see the Grateful Dead, and there was a beautiful woman dancing with a stunning man. The man clearly came from privilege, and the woman was everything I wanted to be. She had a beautiful body, gorgeous skin, and perfect teeth, and I thought that if I could ONLY be like her–if I could only get my physical shit together–I could be happy. Of course, the thing I was missing was that the problem was in my brain, and that’s what I needed to fix. So eventually, I started working on that. After a bunch of therapy, I got my body under control, and my skin cleared up, and my teeth got fixed. Finally, as an adult, I was able to look in a mirror and see something like the person I’d wanted to be–not a trophy, but not ugly either. And that’s when I realized how much further I still needed to go.I realized physical attractiveness could help, but could never make me a good person. That needed to come from inside. Gosh, sorry for the long comment. I’m so glad you’re talking about this, because you are one of the few who have truly been there. You, of all people, know that being beautiful physically is only the start, and that there’s so much more. The fact that you take time to write things like this and be so honest reveals the beautiful soul and intelligent mind you have inside. I hope other women—especially young women–will read this and understand.

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