This one has been annoying me for some time….
I see wide acceptance in US blogs of the urban myth that women advise other women to dress / present themselves unattractively to raise their own comparative attractiveness to men. It goes something like this – a woman cunningly advises another woman her short hair cut etc is attractive and suitable for her, knowing the hair cut etc is not attractive to “men”. The first woman then appears comparatively more attractive.
There are sooo many holes in this belief you could drive a road train (freight truck with many trailers used in outback areas to transport all manner of goods) through it!!!!!
As usual, I write from the point of view of a mid life woman.
Firstly, there is no acknowledgement of the reasons women compliment each other! The main reasons are to start a positive conversation or reinforce the self-esteem of the other woman. There is no way a polite good-willed woman is going to tell another woman she is unattractive, too fat etc! We choose a positive aspect – say a nice blouse or hair colour we like and talk about that.
As I observe, women are largely community-minded, cooperative people who want to keep good relations with others and help other people be the best possible people they can. We don’t go around undermining other women.
Secondly, the context of the compliment is totally ignored. At work and in most social interactions we are seeking to be stylish, make the best of ourselves and above all be appropriately presented. It is not our goal to dress to attract men – especially in the work situation. Our compliments to other women reflect this context.
Note: most mid life women I know are married or not seeking a male partner. Why would dressing to attract men be top of our collective minds? We are not competing for men within our social group.
As an aside – older women dressing provocatively have been cited for sexual harassment by male colleagues. Also, as you age, certain provocative dress styles just ... look …well, even more inappropriate at work. We sometimes talk of what is appropriate or not. Our priority is to be professional and dress in a manner that is acceptable in the situation – looking sexually alluring is not a priority!!
Thirdly, all these people who propagate the myth are assuming mostly heterosexual women know what heterosexual men find attractive. Apart from the obvious – e.g. low cut blouses and ample cleavage on young women – it’s all a bit of a mystery, especially when we suspect the males we really admire are past tarty public displays of legs and breasts when choosing that special someone for a life partner.
I don’t think I have to say a PERSON cannot have any clear idea about what exactly a particular other PERSON will find sexually attractive! As Awesome said, some slobby men want their partner to dress down to their level while other men want their partner to be elegant and classy.How can a third person know this?
Fourthly, by our 50s we have pretty well worked out there is no absolute standard for beauty and attractiveness and no longer feel driven to be fashion victims. We just want to keep our health and do the best we can with what we have got. We know we are so damn lucky compared to others and how the photos of models in magazines are highly airbrushed. Also, importantly, we know there is more to beauty than mere appearance! Do you really think we want to use our compliments to other women to reinforce some false standard and attack their self-esteem?
So, to sum up, women in my orbit are not interested in encouraging other women to be less attractive to men to ensure their own relative attractiveness is boosted. We have a vastly different agenda and speak and interact in a totally different context. If you want to find out what is attractive to men or a particular man, observe their reactions or ask them or him what you should wear or how to do your hair. It's very simple really.
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