Why Do Some Women Care About Fashion?

I read this post a while ago but I haven’t been able to put it out of my mind because it is too funny and too stupid at the same time:

My observation from talking to women of a wide variety of backgrounds and interests is that much of what happens in the general category of women and beauty is completely divorced from men. . . My question, though, is who is the real audience here? Most guys I know would prefer to see their wife or girlfriend in jeans and a t-shirt. Red carpet dresses, the ones on which many women are fixated, look like space suits to the male eye. We are trained to say the right thing about all kinds of things that are “girl cute” but really have no bearing on whether or not, from a male perspective, a woman is attractive.

It is really cute to see a person discover the wheel for the very first time and try to share this exciting new knowledge with the world.

Yes, people of all genders who are interested in fashion practice this hobby for the sake of enjoyment it gives them and not for an “audience.” Just like a gamer plays because s/he digs it and a book lover reads for fun, a fashion-conscious person enjoys the process of practicing this hobby.

I’m very interested in fashion, make-up, beauty treatments, etc. This interest obviously has nothing to do with trying to attract any men (or women.) As everybody probably knows already, I am completely besotted with N. who thinks I’m a ravishing beauty no matter what I look like at any given point. The days when I experiment with make-up are usually the days when I don’t even leave home at all. Applying make-up and constructing outfits is a great relaxation technique that I can highly recommend to anybody.

Referring to fashion as “stuff over which women obsess” is not only offensive and wrong. It is also very stupid. There are many fashion-conscious men who are into fashion for the same reason that women are: it’s their hobby that they enjoy.

The post’s author is incapable of realizing these simple truths because he is stuck on his Earth-shattering discovery:

I think there is certainly some part that women are doing to themselves in which we [men] really have no involvement.

Imagine that. And here we all thought that women couldn’t do anything at all without male involvement. Of course, the post’s author couldn’t accept this scary reality, so he decided to insert himself into the process by hectoring women on the dangers of “beauty obsession.”

The post offers a fitting conclusion:

I am not a women. I can’t really say if beauty is an addiction. Where I come from, addiction is a self-diagnosed disease. But from the outside it makes a certain amount of sense. I see women spending endless time on things that to most men seem insane (another trademark of addiction).

Of course, I don’t think that anybody can be “a women” but who cares about a small thing like grammar when you can engage in this kind of obnoxious navel-gazing? Beware, fashion-lovers everywhere, somebody called Tom Matlack thinks your hobby “seems insane.” And things that seem insane to Tom Matlack must count as an addiction.

From my side, I can say that to me publishing this kind of stupid articles “seems insane.” I will still not go as far as claiming that this blogger has an addiction.

This Good Men Project keeps publishing one piece after another of this kind of disappointing meaningless drivel.

26 thoughts on “Why Do Some Women Care About Fashion?

  1. It’s only a matter of time before the beauty industry learns how to market itself to men. I recently starting experimenting with makeup in order to hide my acne. I can personally attest that it is a lot of fun. I’m kind of poor right now but once I get a real job I can definitely see myself getting into this hobby.

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    1. I think it would be great if fashion was more open to men. I watch Project Runway obsessively and it’s a shame how the designers are always completely baffled when asked to produce menswear. This is one of those industries where men are often an afterthought, which is a shame.

      I also agree that using makeup for problem skin should be as acceptable for men as it is for women? I know several men who use concealers and it works great for them.

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    1. When I hear all this gasping about how people spend tons of money on XYZ, I always wonder what would be the “good”, approved by everyone and non-shocking way to spend money?

      If I blow everything I have in my savings account right now on makeup or video games or ice-cream, why should anybody worry about that? It’s my money. I don’t think all that many people are getting bankrupted by buying lipstick.

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  2. Most guys I know would prefer to see their wife or girlfriend in jeans and a t-shirt.
    Or that’s what the writer thinks. If he isn’t very observant, why believe him in this instance?

    I agree that for some women fashion is a hobby. However, I am sure less women would be interested in it in society with equal for both genders (& lower than currently on women) pressure to “look good”, meaning: make up, special clothes, procedures like shaping eyebrows, etc. I was told by both genders that if I don’t become interested in make up & fashion, I won’t find a good partner. Those women believed in it, and, taking their beliefs into account, I didn’t see that following fashion for them was only a hobby. A hobby is f.e. collecting stamps, something one is psychologically free to choose to dump at any moment. With their beliefs, I can’t believe they had this inner freedom. You may not like the comparison, but for some women it’s not completely unlike persuading themselves that they want to change their names upon marriage or shave their legs [I experienced it myself] or [some other thing they wouldn’t do in not sexist society]. Social pressure is a huge thing.

    Besides, Tom Matlack doesn’t understand the following in basic human psychology. If a woman feels pressure (and many do) to “look good”, she will not coldly calculate “I can get away with minimum investment XYZ”. Most people don’t function like robots. Unlike men, she’ll have an incentive to teach herself to enjoy fashion and then roll on with it. Tom Matlack is surprised women don’t stop exactly where he wants them, but, again, people respond to environment like people, not robots.

    In addition, many men talk how they like their women “natural”, but in practice mean:
    1) they don’t want to acknowledge the effort or be mildly inconvenienced by it (waiting 5 min for her to apply make up before going out)
    2) they like subtle, good quality make up all right and want their partner to look like she does after applying it, but think of cheap make up warrior-colored 15 years olds

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    1. “Social pressure is a huge thing.”

      -Only if that’s what you really want. 🙂 I believe that, more often than not, people use the talk of peer pressure as an excuse for doing things they want to do anyways. 🙂

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      1. I read the comments in the linked post and some of them are very good by women, who believed men telling they prefer “jeans and a t-shirt”, but behaving the opposite.

        Most people, me included, are influenced, whether they would prefer X or not in a neutral to X environment.

        Look at this f.e by LF.:

        My experience is pretty much the same as Sabrina’s, except that I was very late to the party in finding out just how much looks matter to men. I work in several “male dominated” fields and so most of my close associates and friends are men. I heard a lot of bitching from men about how they didn’t understand why women spend 2 hours in the bathroom getting ready to go out, “she looks fine just wearing jeans,” etc. etc. and I believed them, because 1) they were intelligent perceptive guys whom I liked a great deal as human beings, and 2) I felt the same way, personally, about fashion – never cared about it. Felt more comfortable in jeans and T shirts and little or no makeup. So I would agree with them: “Yeah, that’s really stupid. They must be really insecure.”

        But then I started noticing that that these same guys, as much as they enjoyed hanging around with me as a “friend,” never asked me out. They always asked girls out who spent half their life in the bathroom and half their money on makeup and wardrobe. And when I went out in the company of a (more typical) female friend, she was always the one that guys noticed – not me, even though in many cases I had much more in common with these guys, and I’m not shy or socially awkward.

        For a long time, I never let this bother me. I figured “Well, that guy just isn’t the right one for me.” But once I got into my late 30s, it became obvious that I’d been deluding myself. By that time it was really too late for me to suddenly become a beauty queen, and I don’t have any desire to do that anyway. So mostly I’ve just been profoundly saddened by it all and have no idea what to do. It’s not that I think I’m ugly or anything – I just don’t want to spend all my time thinking about it one way or the other, and that is what most women feel compelled to do, and I now understand why.

        I really think that asking women in the fashion industry what they think about all this was exactly the wrong crowd to ask. The fashion industry makes its very living exploiting women’s fears, and on some level they know it. It’s no wonder they wouldn’t talk to you about it. I think that most women aren’t even consciously aware of how much their sense of self worth is tied to their appearance, whether it’s how they look to men or how they look to each other in terms of their social status.

        And most men aren’t aware of it either. It’s something that is deeply ingrained from early childhood (both in boys and girls) and most people never think about it or take any steps to overcome it, and we all lose.

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        1. “But then I started noticing that that these same guys, as much as they enjoyed hanging around with me as a “friend,” never asked me out. They always asked girls out who spent half their life in the bathroom and half their money on makeup and wardrobe. ”

          -This is a very old trick that consists in blaming one’s lack of romantic success on a vaguely defined enemy. For some women, it’s all those fashion-obsessed females who stand in their way to happiness. For some men, it’s all those rich and powerful males who rob them of any chance at romantic happiness. It’s easier to do that than analyze what it is within oneself that makes one unattractive to potential suitors. And the true answer never has anything to do with jeans, makeup, money, or anything like that.

          I’m planning to write a post about this later in the week.

          ” And when I went out in the company of a (more typical) female friend, she was always the one that guys noticed – not me, even though in many cases I had much more in common with these guys, and I’m not shy or socially awkward.”

          -This sentence just screams to the skies about the true reasons of this woman’s lack of suitors. She really thinks that shyness, social awkwardness, having something in common or looking “typical” have something to do with sexual attraction. So whom can she really blame if she didn’t even attempt to figure out how little these things have to do with sexual interest? This is just sad. And there she goes, blaming the unfair universe.

          The reasons are always ALWAYS within oneself. And they are located on a different planet than clothes and makeup.

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          1. I also wanted to add that if people are seeing some correlation between makeup, fashion and romantic success, the reason is that a person who spends some time during the day caressing her face (which is what applying make up is) and looking for ways to adorn her body might be a person who likes that face and that body more than those people who dislike it enough to stick it into old, ratty, torn clothes all the time.

            It is a very good idea, I believe, to spend some time every day caressing gently one’s face (no makeup is needed.) Also walking around the house naked and admiring oneself in the mirror for at least 30 minutes each day does wonders to one’s sexual well-being.

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          2. ….what? She didn’t say “those bitches stole my menz”. She didn’t say that those women were shallow and stupid. She pointed out that her male co-workers disparaged women for engaging in the very rituals and behaviors that gave them an appearance those male-co-workers liked.

            It’s certainly true that not engaging in culturally-acceptable beauty rituals for women = FOREVER ALONE. But I don’t get why pointing out that “oh, I don’t like that mainstream shallow she-stuff” is something a lot more people actually talk than walk.

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            1. “It’s certainly true that not engaging in culturally-acceptable beauty rituals for women = FOREVER ALONE”

              -Of course it is not true.

              “She pointed out that her male co-workers disparaged women for engaging in the very rituals and behaviors that gave them an appearance those male-co-workers liked.”

              -Once again, this particular woman’s problems very obviously had nothing to do with male coworkers or other women.

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              1. I’m sure her problems were not ONLY to do with the issues she described. But I really don’t understand why you’re jumping on her with both feet and ignoring her point, which ties right into your post – namely, that when the men she worked with guys were putting down ‘stuff over which women obsess’ even though they preferred women who in fact ‘obsessed’ over fashion and makeup. I don’t know whether it was a reflexive I Am Not A Shallow Guy lip-flapping (I live in Bluestateville; you hear this kind of stuff all the time) or whether it was garden variety mild misogyny (“oh, you silly girls and your silly makeup!”).

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              2. I’m not jumping on anything. A reader quoted this comment on my blog and asked me to address it. Which I did. I’m not planning to run after this woman offering her my conclusions, if that’s what worries you.

                ” the men she worked with guys were putting down ‘stuff over which women obsess’ even though they preferred women who in fact ‘obsessed’ over fashion and makeup”

                -If these are such shallow sexist guys, then why on Earth does it sadden her so much that they had no interest in her? One would think that as a profound non-sexist person she would be deeply happy they made no passes at her. Don’t you think?

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              3. Are we reading the same comment? Because she clearly said why it saddened her: women spend more time than they otherwise would on their appearance because they’re afraid not to, and men aren’t even consciously aware that they’ve been acculturated to a particular, commerce-driven idea of beauty.

                The one who said they’re probably sexist and shallow is me, because I’m apparently not as nice as the commenter.

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              4. So she is worried so much for the benefit of other women who didn’t ask her to?

                I’m sorry, but this doesn’t make any sense. Sexual desire has absolutely nothing to do with the culture-specific, fickle and temporary standards of beauty. We’d have all died out as a species if it did. Make-up and fashion have absolutely nothing to do with how many people will find you attractive. This is just a fact. Just like the weight or the height have absolutely nothing to do with it. The woman in question was interpreting the success of other women with men in this terms because that is what she finds convenient. This explanation, though, is bogus.

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  3. Forgot to ask whether you’ll write about violence in Russian culture. Is it very different than in US and Canada? Are their differences between US and Canada?

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  4. Loved :

    Real girls participate in fashion. Adornment is part of the feminine role and it’s done to separate us from the guys. Just like a lot of men believe football, spittin’, NASCAR and beer = masculinity. Femininity = striving to look pretty with makeup clothes accessories and beauty treatments. It’s part of our identity as a woman. We grow up with it. If you deviate from it you are a butch, dyke, nerd, and just pathetic non-woman type creature.

    And especially the following, which explains why it’s not only if you want it in many jobs:

    Fashion and beauty are 5000 yr old traditions separating social classes of women.

    Blue collar women don’t have to spend time, and money on makeup and clothes for work. They are efficiency experts w/ performance based on merit.

    White collar women have to spend money, and time appropriate to a formal career environment. These women are required to work w/ style, and specific social standards of dress, based on big box retail designer image. There is no choice. All identity has its price.

    “All identity has its price” – well said.

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  5. “more than those people who dislike it enough to stick it into old, ratty, torn clothes all the time”

    You went from jeans and t-shirts to “dislike” and “old ratty torn” ?! Interesting…

    I am also wondering how you can stand shopping. I hate shops of all kinds and shopping malls even more. Going to a party is a piece of cake in comparison, at least for me.

    I am looking forward to your post on the subject.

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  6. Women who don’t use makeup and who dress in sensible shoes and sensible clothes are simply not credible to a large portion of men making hiring decisions. That 1980s “Dress for Success” meme hasn’t gone away in many or most job situations. Too femme – bad. Too butch – bad. Looks like your mother – bad. Doesn’t look like your younger female relatives – bad. Yes, you can find some niches where you can dress neatly but simply and not wear makeup or heels, and still get ahead. Don’t mistake them for the whole of reality.

    I am speaking from academic work experience in which my persona as a plain-spoken Midwesterner with sensible dress and androgynous non-flirty no-nonsense manner, in other words, work focused while at work, has been perceived as “Not One of Us” by the male higher-ups. A woman who dared to get pregnant and a woman who dared to wear highly femme stylish outfits in good taste (not “clubbing” wear) also were not taken seriously. In fact, only one woman survived in that department, and that because she was literally the only person able to do a particular clinical specialty (after others left) and squeezing her out would have caused too much trouble among the clinicians with whom she worked.

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    1. I believe that, in terms of employment, men and women get discriminated against because of how they look, what they wear, how many tattoos or piercings they have and what kind of a gender identity they project on an equal basis. When N. found his first corporate position, he had to spend his entire first month’s salary on expensive corporate clothes (that were also extremely hot to wear in the Baltimore summer). He also had to iron his white shirts all the time, and you know how fast those get dirty. But he didn’t have a choice because comments were made about his wardrobe at work and how important it was to look “like you belong in the corporate environment.”

      Then, of course, he was thrown out on the street with no warning whatsoever anyways.

      And this is a man with very conventional good looks and a perfect figure. I have no idea how he would be treated if he were fat or “looked gay” or had a tattoo or a piercing. Something tells me he wouldn’t get any job in his field of finance at all.

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      1. Men can have gray hair and more of a paunch, and as long as they have expensive clothing, they can get by. Women have more contradictory expectations imposed on them, and there is more of an age and appearance bias toward young-and-hot in workplaces where men make the hiring and promotion decisions. Here’s where the dress-for-success strategy of wearing the female version of conservative Brooks Brother suits often fails. Subdued and professional does not equal hot or feminine in many male bosses’ eyes, and hot and feminine does not equal professional in the same bosses’ eyes. Men don’t have the double bind.

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