Monday, April 25, 2011

The [Unquestioned Assumptions] About Beauty.

God, "Psychology Today" is such a shitrag. Today, someone linked me to this article about beauty, and why it's only for women, and why women who think they have any value besides decoration are deluding themselves, and why any woman who isn't beautiful needs to get with the program already, and other novel and kind-hearted sentiments.

Also it's illustrated with (marginally NWS?) silhouettes of naked women, just to really class up the joint. Funny thing is, I can't really tell to whether the women are "beautiful" or not. They're just naked. If being pointlessly, even inappropriately sexual is beauty, then I can be beautiful too! Although I might get arrested.

There are certain practical realities of existence that most of us accept. If you want to catch a bear, you don't load the trap with a copy of Catch-22—not unless you rub it with a considerable quantity of raw hamburger. If you want to snag a fish, you can't just slap the water with your hand and yell, "Jump on my hook, already!"
The article kicks off with two of my favorite argumentative fallacies:

The Fallacy Of That's Just Life: "What do you mean, you have pneumonia and you want antibiotics? Listen up, sometimes you just have to cough and choke and wheeze, and that's just life. Suck it up, grow the hell up, and deal. Life's not fair, and sometimes life hands you infections. God, stop acting like problems can be solved."

This fallacy is excellent for dismissing any kind of social injustice whatsoever, or for that matter, any kind of statement whatsoever. There is absolutely no observation, no matter how banal or penetrating, that cannot be handwaved away with "whatever, that's just life." Thanks a lot for that insight, champ. Everything's life... and life can change.

The Fallacy Of The Completely Batshit Analogy: "If you want to change your clothes, you don't eat an entire bucket of red paint. So don't expect to start your car by turning the key!"

This fallacy is excellent for creating the outward appearance of a rhetorical point, but be aware that this appearance is only 0.013 microns deep, and even light fingernail scratches may completely rupture it. For example, it turns out that men are not bears or fish (well, some of them are bears, but bear with me here) and that beauty is not hamburger or nightcrawlers. Also, a dead man in a trap in my apartment would be both legally inconvenient and sexually useless.

Yet, if you're a woman who wants to land a man, there's this notion that you should be able to go around looking like Ernest Borgnine: If you're "beautiful on the inside," that's all that should count.
Fun fact: Ernest Borgnine is married. It's almost like he has something interesting or appealing about him besides his decorative value! Oh, but wait, he has a penis, so all the rules are completely different for whatever reason.

Also, if you look like Ernest Borgnine--if you literally look like him, rather than just looking like an average woman who's a bit slovenly and a bit overweight, which I'm sure is what the writer means here and is expressing in the most schoolyard-bully terms possible--ain't no beauty regimen in the world gonna change that, so you're not "going around" that way, you're stuck with it, and for the writer to rub it in that you can't possibly deserve love is just a pointlessly assholish move.

Welcome to Uglytopia—the world reimagined as a place where it's the content of a woman's character, not her pushup bra, that puts her on the cover of Maxim.
Yeah, yeah, I get that, I'm a hilarious strawman for hallucinating that anyone cares about about the character of a person woman. But I'm still hoping for a world where it's the content of a woman's character that puts her on the cover of "Time" or "Newsweek."

While we wish things were different, we'd best accept the ugly reality: No man will turn his head to ogle a woman because she looks like the type to buy a turkey sandwich for a homeless man or read to the blind.
That's fine, because I don't actually get much out of being ogled except creeped the fuck out. Ogling so rarely leads to a healthy long-term partnership.

I used to give sandwiches to homeless people every day. I worked at McDonald's as a teenager and I'd bag up my employee meals and give them to the local street people. And you know, it didn't get me laid. It got homeless people fed. Forgive me if I'm going off topic here, but there are things in life that can be important and valuable regardless of whether they get a dick stuffed in you or not.

The features men evolved to go for in women—youth, clear skin, a symmetrical face and body, feminine facial features, an hourglass figure—are those indicating that a woman would be a healthy, fertile candidate to pass on a man's genes.
This again. I've never been convinced that these actually have anything to do with health and fertility beyond not having gross malformations, but what I'm noticing this time is how this doesn't even begin to cover the modern beauty standard. Try being a young hourglassy etc. woman who doesn't wear makeup, doesn't shave her legs, cuts her hair short, wears cargo pants and is overweight, and you'll... probably meet guys who are into that, actually, but that's not my point. You're not going to get a lot of credit from society at large for being "objectively beautiful" just because you look healthy.

And while Western women do struggle to be slim, the truth is, women in all cultures eat (or don't) to appeal to "the male gaze."
Well... yeah. Unfortunately. I guess the thesis of this article is "the concept of beauty exists, therefore it must be right."

Men's looks matter to heterosexual women only somewhat. Most women prefer men who are taller than they are, with symmetrical features (a sign that a potential partner is healthy and parasite-free). But, women across cultures are intent on finding male partners with high status, power, and access to resources—which means a really short guy can add maybe a foot to his height with a private jet.
No he can't. An unattractive guy can get more chicks with a private jet, but the chicks are thinking "if I marry him I can quit my job and I'll never be hungry again, and he's not that bad," not "my vagina is responding directly to his wealth and I am so wet." And should a single woman ever acquire a private jet (they're letting us own property these days), I have a sneaking suspicion she'll suddenly have quite a few guys willing to overlook minor asymmetries.

An unattractive guy without a private jet can also take the here-unmentioned option of being an interesting and likeable person. Appearance and "status" aren't the only two dimensions of a human being.

Yet, while feminist journalists deforest North America publishing articles urging women to bow out of the beauty arms race and "Learn to love that woman in the mirror!", nobody gets into the ridiculous position of advising men to "Learn to love that unemployed guy sprawled on the couch!"
That's because it's not the same thing. Beauty isn't the female money. Money is the female money.

But you don't help that woman by advising her, "No need to wax that lip fringe or work off that beer belly!" (Because the road to female empowerment is...looking just like a hairy old man?)
The road to female empowerment is looking just like a hairy old woman, if that's what you look like. And still having some damn power.

The more attractive the woman is, the wider her pool of romantic partners and range of opportunities in her work and day-to-day life. We all know this, and numerous studies confirm it—it's just heresy to say so.
It's not that we don't want to acknowledge reality. It's just that we don't want to settle for the current reality, not when it's balls-terrible. (Particularly the "work and day-to-day life" bit.) The fact that discrimination exists doesn't justify discrimination.

I'm particularly bothered that the author isn't bothered that this is almost entirely a problem for women. Apparently the immutable, undeniable, writ-in-our-genes-for-eternity "power of beauty" just goes away completely if you have a wiener.

We consider it admirable when people strive to better themselves intellectually; we don't say, "Hey, you weren't born a genius, so why ever bother reading a book?" Why should we treat physical appearance any differently?
Because knowledge is useful. Being someone who's read a ton of books actually isn't particularly desirable, but being someone who's read a ton of books and synthesized the knowledge into a new theory or invention is. Whereas you make yourself "beautiful" (by the standards of the editors of "Maxim" magazine circa early 2011, I'm guessing) and then... you stand around being all beautiful and stuff. Whoooo.

At one end of the spectrum are the "Love me as I am!" types, like the woman who asked me why she was having such a terrible time meeting men...while dressed in a way that advertised not "I want a boyfriend" but "I'm just the girl to clean out your sewer line!"
Is there a way to dress that advertises "I want a boyfriend"? Seriously now. I want diagrams.

Me, I kind of like dressing in the way that advertises "I want a boyfriend, but only if I can have one who will let me 'get away' with dressing in a comfortable and practical manner, the way he takes for granted when it comes to himself."

At the other extreme are women who go around resembling porn-ready painted dolls. Note to the menopausal painted doll: Troweled on makeup doesn't make you look younger; it makes you look like an aging drag queen.
Oh, ouch. The whole article up to this point was about "ladies, you only exist so you can conform to the beauty standard and you shouldn't expect anything out of life if you don't," and then there's this sudden swing to making fun of women who believed this and tried too hard. Apparently if I wasn't considerate enough to be born a supermodel and stay one my entire life, I should just... just... just fuck off, I guess, because the author's attitude here to people who don't look good even after doing the "beauty" stuff seems to be that we're so subhuman as to be unworthy of consideration.

French women, too, buy into the idea that there's some fountain of youth at the Clarins counter. But, perhaps because feminism never seeped into mainstream culture in France like it did here, they generally have a healthier and more realistic relationship with beauty, accepting it as the conduit to love, sex, relationships, and increased opportunities. They take pleasure in cultivating their appearance, and in accentuating their physical differences from men. They don't give up on looking after their looks as they age, nor do they tart themselves up like sexy schoolgirls at 50. They simply take pride in their appearance and try to look like sensual, older women.
I'm not French or a Franceologist here, so I'm just putting this up in case I have any French readers--madames et mademoiselles, is France in fact the land of universal beauty, where all women have found perfect happiness through perfect femininity?

And if so, what do you do with the women who were just born funny-lookin' and don't have anything to "cultivate"? Do you ship them all to Belgium?

To understand what it takes to be beautiful, we need to be very clear about what being beautiful means—being sexually appealing to men. And then, instead of snarling that male sexuality is evil, we need to accept that it's just different—far more visually-driven than female sexuality.
I don't think male sexuality is evil. (I think it's kind of awesome sometimes.) It's just not my problem.

Most of my life, I'm not trying to get laid. I'm going to work, shopping, walking around my neighborhood, hanging out with friends, whatever. If beauty is all about giving dudes wood, I don't see why I should be beautiful at those times.

And while wood has its place in dating and sexual attraction, if someone tells me that I can't be hired or taken seriously or treated decently because I don't give him wood, he's an asshole. Male sexuality isn't evil; but believing that male sexuality should be catered to in nonsexual situations or determines someone's human worth is evil.

There seems to be a huge conflation in this article (and, unfortunately, in a lot of other places) between "you should be be beautiful to get a man" and "you should be beautiful all the time and everywhere, just because." The first is sort of true, with the caveat that men's preferences differ considerably and their attraction isn't purely physical. The second is complete sexist bullshit.

So, ladies, read lots of books, develop your mind and your character, exercise the rights the heroes of the women's movement fought for us to have, and strive to become somebody who makes a difference in the world. And, pssst...while you're doing all of that, don't forget to wear lipgloss.
But if I do forget to wear lipgloss, pssst... don't forget about my mind and character and rights and striving to make a difference in the world.

92 comments:

  1. Oh, you nailed it on every point. I laughed out loud when I read the article (before I read your post) when the author whipped out the whole "French women do it better" trope. I KNEW it was coming!

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  2. Holly, just wanted to say that I really enjoy your blog. I appreciate how you approach things in a reasoned, logical, and contemplative way.

    Being a white straight man I simply just didn't encounter a lot of the material you talk about; before I read your blog I never really thought much about things like feminism, non-"normal" sex and sexuality, etc. It's nice to have my beliefs and the way I think about other people continually challenged and cause me to re-examine them.

    Keep it up!
    -Josh

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  3. Also loses points for strawfeminist!

    "Wolf and her feminist sob sisters bleat about the horror of women being pushed to conform to "Western standards of beauty"—as if eyebrow plucking and getting highlights are the real hardships compared to the walk in the park of footbinding and clitoridectomy."

    As if you can't be opposed to both, you know. And I'm pretty sure no feminist, EVER has compared FGM to eyebrow plucking.

    It's kind of sad. She has a really low opinion of everyone, male and female.

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  4. Also loved the part where the author defines beauty as being 'sexually attractive to men', thus ignoring the fact that women (including lesbians) can appreciate beauty... oh wait, women aren't visually-stimulated creatures apparently. Never mind.

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  5. Fight back with the real healthy idea of beautiful women.

    The amazing cooks, the physicists, the poets, the mothers etc

    My beauty: http://irishwishesarespecial.blogspot.com/2011/04/what-is-quantum-mechanics.html

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  6. Paragraph 3: "Men evolved to go for...an hourglass figure"

    Paragraph 4: "In cultures where food is scarce...women appeal to men by stuffing themselves"

    It's bad enough to commit the 'evolutionarily programmed for modern western values' fallacy without pointing the fallacy out in the very next paragraph.

    Incidentally, differences in ideal weights and WHRs points out another flaw in the whole "men value looks, women value status/money" thing. Turns out, men value whatever look is high-status: thin women where food is plentiful, heavier when food is scarce and putting on weight is a sign of wealth.

    So, gee, men are after high status after all. And the distinction between "looks" and "status" isn't as clear cut as it first appears.

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  7. What gets me about all the bullshit about "women go for status and resources" is that it's true... in an environment where women cannot acquire and retain their own status and resources.

    These days, women can sometimes acquire the same standard of living as their men, but they usually have to sacrifice a whole lot more than the men do. Such as, you know, having kids.

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  8. Robot Pie - Also, oh my gosh, language. For a woman who wrote a book about the lost art of courtesy, she sure can't keep a civil tongue in her head. "Wolf and her feminist cohorts talk about the horror of..." would have done just fine; you really don't need to add in a "and they're POOPYHEADS, too!" on every line.

    (Okay, I called PT a "shitrag." But I don't think I used any terms of abuse directly on the author, and at least I don't grind it in every time as if "ha ha, people who disagree with me are stinkypantses" was an important rhetorical tactic.)

    Fnord - Some women will gain weight and just have a larger hourglass figure. (Some won't. These women are clearly ignorant of reality and how awesome it is when stereotyped het male sexuality is the sole determiner of reality.)

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  9. Does Psychology Today actually have any psychologists writing for them, or just misogynist economists and "advice goddesses"?

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  10. You know, I think my favorite point is simply the headline. It's the TRUTH! Here's the TRUTH! And Psychology Today is brave enough to speak it! THANK THE HEAVENS for this soothsayer, now we can rest!

    Also, on the off-chance you haven't read it: http://jezebel.com/#!5791361/psychology-today-hates-feminism

    At least this one is just an essay. Most of the time they and other psych publications try to throw science dust in our eyes by making it a study. My favorite there was an aggregate study that "proved" that attractive people were happier...when in four of the five studies surveyed, the attractiveness was determined by exactly one person:

    http://www.the-beheld.com/2011/04/beautiful-people-are-happier-finds-sort.html

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  11. Btw, since I lived in France for a while:
    It's perfectly normal there to have a 24-hour hour nanny as soon as you get a child so you can go back to work as quickly as possible.

    Some women are complaining because this means that it's expected of them to go back to work as soon as possible, and it's actually strange to be a stay-at-home mom. But either way, "feminism never seeped into mainstream culture" is just simply not true.

    This sounds like someone who's never even seen France except in movies. And I love you, Holly. Seriously! :-)

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  12. JFP - I don't know! I've yet to hear any mention of even basic psychological principles (other than conjectural, unresearched "evolutionary psychology," of course, but then not even all of it, only the parts pertaining to gender and sex) from that magazine.

    Autumn - What's really funny about the "attractiveness determined by one person" studies is that the person was trying not to take into account their own preferences. So you get a push towards that weird kind of stereotyped "beauty" that isn't actually attractive to anyone in particular, it's just, you know, "generally considered" beauty.

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  13. Where does all this leave me? I think women who are a little overweight are the definition of sexy (Nigella Lawson is almost making me want to watch the Food Network). If everyone diets themselves down, there is a significant reduction in the pool of Women Ozy Finds Sexxxxy. Which is... the exact opposite of PT's argument?

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  14. Oy, so I just have to post this again. The "women go after power and money preferentially, and guys don't"? Totally not actually true: http://yesmeansyesblog.wordpress.com/2011/03/08/conleys-casual-sex-research-sexual-strategies-theory/

    Now, that only refers to sexual situations, and not necessarily elsewhere, but, as you said Holly, if it's non-sexual, why do we care about sexuality?

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  15. Ah Holly, you are the best. I think I wrote about this crapola a while back but it was probably along the lines of "RAWRRRRRRRRRRRR YOU ARE THE WORST PSYCHOLOGY TODAY" rather than your amusing and cogent write-up.

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  16. The part about women with moustaches having the same rights as men with moustaches also strikes me as really odd, since the rest of the article seems to say, "But it's completely impossible for ugly women to be equal to beautiful women. Stop deluding yourselves into thinking you can be ugly and happy! You can only be happy if you do beauty right, the way I do it!"
    It sounds to me like the author must have invested a whole lot of time and effort into beauty herself, and now she's getting worried that a traditionally beautiful American woman may not actually be the pinnacle of all forms of life. Which is all the fault of us ugly women, of course, for not supporting the system like good peasants.

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  17. An unattractive guy can get more chicks with a private jet, but the chicks are thinking "if I marry him I can quit my job and I'll never be hungry again, and he's not that bad," not "my vagina is responding directly to his wealth and I am so wet."

    HAHAHAHAHAH!! PT really is a total shitrag.

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  18. Oh Psychology Today, publisher of Satoshi Kanazawa, who is a monumental woman-hating crazy!

    http://sendaianonymous.wordpress.com/2009/08/08/meet-satoshi-kanazawa-the-fuckwitted-moron/

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  19. Hi Holly,

    Great blog! I really appreciate not only how articulate and spot-on your critiques are, but also your humour and positivity.

    You do a great job in taking apart the Psychology Today article. There's already been one comment objecting to her statement that "feminism never seeped into mainstream culture in France like it did here", but I'd like to add some examples of why that isn't true:

    'French feminism' is a very influential philosophical tradition from around the 1970s-1990s, with some interesting perspectives that differ in interesting ways from their contemporary Anglophone ones. Similarly, Simone de Beauvoir was French.

    The recent French ban on women bearing face-covering veils such as a niqab or burka has also been argued for from a so-called feminist perspective. (Though it seems a kind of ironic solution - 'we think it is bad that women should be forced to dress in a certain way, therefore we will pass a law forcing women to dress in a certain way').

    I guess it depends on what the author means by "mainstream culture" and "feminism", but haute couture and spending a fortune on cosmetics is hardly mainstream, despite the stereotype of French women as glamorous Parisian dames.

    And in response to the author's reference to footbinding... seriously! I'm not claiming to be an expert, but in the parts of China I've been to and among the various Chinese women I know, they stopped footbinding decades ago. Now many Chinese women wear crippling high-heeled shoes, like many American women. If stilettos work for you, that's entirely up to you, but for me they're painful, restrictive and scary. Ok so eyebrow-plucking isn't the same thing as FGM, but you can draw parallels between the contemporary beauty regimes that the author advocates and the outmoded practice of foot-binding. Of course we should be able to be opposed to both!

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  20. There seems to be a huge conflation in this article (and, unfortunately, in a lot of other places) between "you should be be beautiful to get a man" and "you should be beautiful all the time and everywhere, just because."
    It only seems so to you, I haven't noticed such a conflation. The topic is clear: if you want a guy like you, you don't tell him what he is supposed to like in you, but rather show him what he is looking for. Everything else you say, goes "But you can manage without this too", sure you can, but you will never know how well it could have been should you've added some more try.

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  21. Anon - It's true, you can't attract a guy without being attractive to him. But:

    A) Guys like different things. They really do. I know guys who are total suckers for cargo pants, or for fat chicks.

    B) Guys have also been known to give a shit about a woman's personality. Really. It's not a myth. I don't think my boyfriend likes that I have red hair or round cheeks half so much as he likes that I can keep up in discussions about physics or gender theory.

    C) If a guy wants me to change that much from what's comfortable for me, then I probably don't want that guy. I'm not asking to "get" that guy anyway; I'm asking for him to treat me decently even though he doesn't date or fuck me.

    D) The author specifically mentions a beautiful woman having advantages "in her work and day-to-day life. " This is flat-out wrong. Not that it doesn't happen--but when it does, it's sexist, discriminatory, frequently a lead-in to sexual harassment, and frankly kinda pointless.

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  22. Guys do like different things, but it's up to them, no use telling them which things to like are right and whuch are mysoginist. If he likes perdonalities, pants and non-shaven legs - it's not because this is proper by some female writer standards.

    If a well-groomed woman is treated better than a well-read one, I don't consider it wrong, but I am not sa woman. Should I be a guy with lots of danddruff on my shoulders or with a bad BO or mouth odor, and someone would tell me that a guy with clean hair, well-washed and with brushed teeth has advantages because of it, I would not call it unfair though.

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  23. Psychology Today truly is a bonafide riggidy-rag.

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  24. Anon - It's not about what you should be sexually attracted to, dude. You like what you like.

    But what you don't like is still a person. Not a person you're required to get horny for or date--NO ONE IS SAYING THAT, ANYWHERE, EVER--but a person you're required to treat like a person in all other ways.

    Also, the things we're talking about here aren't just cleanliness. Beauty is way more work, more expense, and more sexualizing than mere hygiene.

    The equivalent of a man with dandruff and BO is a woman with dandruff and BO.

    The equivalent of a woman with no makeup and short hair is a man with no makeup and short hair.

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  25. I read the article, had the same general reaction (without your eloquence), and thought again about Psychology Today: they seem to be either open to pretty much anything, mixing reasoned articles with "the rules"-based patriarchal advice, or at the least glad to publish BS that will attract readers and arguments.

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  26. Beauty is way more work, more expense, and more sexualizing than mere hygiene.
    That's what you say.
    If mere hygiene would be enough to attract the man, good for you.
    NO ONE IS SAYING THAT, ANYWHERE, EVER
    Wrong - the article is strictly about what to do "if you're a woman who wants to land a man", just that it is convenient for your rethoric to pretend that it is about everything else.
    But what you don't like is still a person. Not a person you're required to get horny for or date, but a person you're required to treat like a person in all other ways.
    I'd rather not threat such a person at all. Let this person be a person some other place and I will be elsewhere too, I'm not interested to communicate and no one can make me.

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  27. I agree with A, I don't think this guy learned about France from Hollywood. It's true, there are some hyper-chic Parisian women who seem to spend all day sipping espresso elegantly. There are also a lot of women who wear work clothes because they work, teenagers who dress like J Lo circa 1999, muslim women who wear headscarves because they want to be less visible, muslim women who wear gorgeous headscarves because they want to look gorgeous (I even saw a woman wearing a burberry hijab, although that was in Belgium), etc. It is full of different kinds of women because it is a real place and not a movie set!

    Also, as A said above, France has had plenty of feminists.

    I do have to say that in my limited experience of a study abroad semester in France, it seemed like the majority of women did put more effort into fashion, make-up, and dieting than in America. This was in the south, too, not just Paris. I do think it would be interesting to compare beauty culture in France and America or England, since as the anon at 12:50 pointed out, French feminism is it's own separate thing from our Anglo feminist tradition. Unfortunately I don't know a lot about it. And this PT writer clearly doesn't either.

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  28. Also, @Holly,

    "what do you do with the women who were just born funny-lookin' and don't have anything to "cultivate"? Do you ship them all to Belgium?"

    Yes! Belgium is the butt of this kind of joke in France. Belgium is the Canada of France in pop culture. They're fond of Belgium, but only the part that speaks their language, and they conveniently forget the other half exists. Belgians are just so silly and a little useless, but they're glad Belgium is doing well even though they can't believe what Belgians eat on their French Fries.

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  29. @anon

    "The more attractive the woman is, the wider her pool of romantic partners and range of opportunities in her work and day-to-day life. We all know this, and numerous studies confirm it—it's just heresy to say so."<--- straight from the awful article's mouth

    Way to just not pay attention at all. It's not JUST an article about romance and man-hunting or whatever, it's definitely an "attractive people earn more good things in their life" article.

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  30. Anon-- You... don't want to have friendly relationships with women you don't want to stick your dick in? Like, you know, talk about TV shows, work together, volunteer at the homeless shelter, get a coffee and argue about existentialism? Wow.

    The problem, anon, is that I don't want a man; not every penis-bearer will do. I want a specific man, sensitive and kind and long-haired and with big hands and a lucky d20, and so far my possession of hairy armpits has not made much of a difference one way or the other.

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  31. You... don't want to have friendly relationships with women you don't want to stick your dick in?
    Nice transition: I was talking about staying away from a person I don't like, you are blaming me for wanting to stick my dick or else. With such a logic you are namely one person whom I don't want to communicate at all, your existantial hairy armpits notwithstanding.

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  32. What the...fuck? This was in a psychology journal?
    I'm definitely glad I live in the real world, where rational guys who are attracted to my personality exist.

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  33. I think that the idea that feminism hasn't touched French society as it has in the U.S. is slightly ludicrous. Feminism is a French word and originally a French concept - so they aren't affected by it at all?

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  34. I salute your ability to wade through that pile of steaming fail. I started to write it out as "gender and critical thinking and disability and ageist" fail and thought of more items to add, and decided that was getting too long.
    It is breathtaking in the inability to differentiate between "wanting to find a man" (presumably to marry) vs. "wanting to be ogled" vs. "wanting to be gainfully employed and receive promotions based upon merit" and really all other forms of interacting in the world. The takeaway from the last line is, of course, that as a woman all your other accomplishments, attributes, activities will not matter unless you are pretty. If you're not, well, you should at least not be surprised if you die alone and penniless.

    And the way these douche-y articles talk about France, I always anticipate "this is due to the large population of unicorns in France" because REALLY.

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  35. Anon, Holly was saying that people you don't like sexually are still people. You were saying that you don't want to hang around with them. I'm glad you aren't that stupid, but it was still a logical conclusion I came to.

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  36. Anon - I'd rather not threat such a person at all. Let this person be a person some other place and I will be elsewhere too, I'm not interested to communicate and no one can make me.
    Did you understand me? But "what you don't like" I don't mean a woman who's mean or stupid. I simply mean a woman who's not sexually attractive to you.

    Is it really not in your nature to, like, make friendly conversation if she's a classmate or coworker, or give her your attention if she's making a presentation, or buy from her if she's a salesperson, or just say "hm, nice weather this week" when you're in an elevator with her?

    (What if she isn't unattractive to you because she's a hairy-armed feminist, but just because she's seventy-five, or she's got large visible scars, or a really super huge case of acne?)

    I'm really, really hoping you misunderstood the question there. Would you have friendly NONSEXUAL relations with an unattractive woman?

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  37. OMG can the media just shut the FUCK UP about women not noticing men's appearance already? Every woman I've ever met - even the ones who claim looks don't matter to her - swoons over a guy purely for his looks sometimes.

    Women repress our visual side because society constantly tells us that a woman who makes looks a criterion in finding a partner is shallow. But that side is there.

    I finally shed all that "OMG it's shallow to want to be with someone I'm attracted to" baggage (after being married for almost a decade to someone I actively found ugly) and now I'm with a boy I'm actually attracted to and I eye-hump him almost every minute that we're together. RAWR hot boy is hot! :D

    ...Also, hot boy is amazing and sweet and funny and smart, and he's a thousand times better at being a boyfriend than my ex was at being a husband. So much for the trope that ugly dudes all have hearts of gold and pretty guys are two-dimensional.

    -perversecowgirl

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  38. Holly:
    I'm really, really hoping you misunderstood the question there.
    There has been no question for me to misunderstand untill you asked it here and now.
    Would you have friendly NONSEXUAL relations with an unattractive woman?
    All my relations with women are nonsexual if only because I am happily married for 27 years already. Still the answer very much depends on what do you mean by "unattractive". Having a scar on her face, harelip or a mole on the tip of her nose - it's one thing, it's _not_ unattractive. Telling me what I am supposed to like about her and why, be it a slim waist, long legs or her IQ of 158 or her vegetarian diet - it is _very_ unattractive to me.
    And demanding respect for something as silly as "still being a person" or some other different-snowflake reason is plain ugly.
    I don't like this kind of people and wish to have no relations with them whatsoever.

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  39. I don't think we're talking on the same wavelength or something, Anon. (Also, your comment doesn't parse logically. "This kind of people" has no clear antecedent--are you talking about ugly people, or about the entirely mythical threat of people telling you to be attracted to ugly people?)

    I don't demand you be attracted to anyone. I think that's clear. In fact, nobody here has, at any point, told you to be attracted to anyone for any reason.

    So I'm still trying to work out if you're actually the sort of person who has "no relations whatsoever" with unattractive women, or if you're still fighting against the extremely imaginary threat of "I DEMAND YOU GET A BONER FOR ME NOW!"

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  40. yay @perversecowgirl! I like looking at my hot boyfriend too. Has "Psychology Today" never found itself on the shelf next to "Tiger Beat"?

    flightless

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  41. Ugh. The article Holly linked makes me mad. This idea of "beauty" being an objective standard is something I find obnoxious. Not to mansplain, but beauty is what gets your heart a-thumping, be it intellectual or physical -- though notions of beauty can be problematic when they interfere with someone else's subjectivity.

    In my experience, notions of beauty are also unfixed -- though I was exposed to Hollywood notions of physical beauty whilst I was a kid, my idea of what is beautiful has expanded a great deal since then. At this point, I find all sorts of women attractive, from the incredibly petite to the Rubenesque. And the reasons I like what I like are entirely my own -- I try not to let people tell me how to think.

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  42. Holly,
    I don't demand you be attracted to anyone. I think that's clear. In fact, nobody here has, at any point, told you to be attracted to anyone for any reason.
    The point of the article you linked was to arque with the opinion "Women don't have to try and became attractive to men, on the contrary - men are supposed to like what women consider good in themselves.", I agree with the article on that and I disagree with the author's opponents, who are doing exactly that: telling men what they are supposed to like and what they have to be attracted to.

    The article gives advice to "a woman who wants to land a man", nothing less, nothing more. But you keep pretending that the article is trying to make all women always objectify themselves "just because", discard their inner beauty for life, or do something equally silly. That's why you might be unsure of wavelengths, because you seem to have read some other article, not the one that is linked.

    The threat "I DEMAND YOU GET A BONER FOR ME NOW!" is indeed imaginary, but it was not imagined by me, these are your words, I never said anything like that.
    But "Love me as I am!" is a very real demand, I've heard it enough times to see that the article you linked is very reasonable and timely.

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  43. Anon - I could write anything here, huh? I could quote "Jabberwocky" or crime statistics in Newark and somehow it would come out sounding to you like "I DEMAND YOU, PERSONALLY, DATE AN UGLY CHICK."

    I'm entertained by comment debates, but not ones that don't progress due to a total lack of reading. Yes, the author does talk about beauty impacting things besides dating and sex; no, I'm not telling men to change who they're attracted to--see everything I already wrote for expansion upon these points.



    I really have never heard anyone say "Love me as I am" in that way. I have heard "I wish I could find a man who would love me as I am," but that's not the same thing. It means "I wish I could find a [particular] man who happens to be into what I've got" not "I wish men [in general] would change and start loving me."

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  44. What I really don't get is that it suggests that all 'beauty' problems can be fixed with judiciously applied make-up and a little effort-- especially when it states, as Holly said, that symmetry is a sign of beauty. Ummm, mascara isn't going to magically 'fix' lopsided eyes.

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  45. Holly,
    I could quote "Jabberwocky" or crime statistics in Newark and somehow it would come out sounding to you like "I DEMAND YOU, PERSONALLY, DATE AN UGLY CHICK."
    You are trying to make it seem that the lack of reading is my blame. No, I don't read _your_ words as a demand to date anyone. I just see that you arquing not with the author of article you linked. Read that article and the lack of reading might magically vanish.

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  46. Here's a fun fact: clothes and make up don't make you pretty. Being pretty makes you pretty, and you will be pretty in a cloth sac with mud on your face. Clothes and makeup make you "conform to social expectations," which isn't exactly the same thing as being "pretty."
    Now that we've established that you cannot change your facial structure or body type, being pretty doesn't seem like something worth worrying about. You are or you aren't, you can't change it, and you aren't defined by it.
    Beauty is a feminist issue. I have better ways to spend my time, better ways to spend my money, and more important things to worry about. I also have better ways to be exposed to carcinogens, known toxins, and other chemicals which have simply never been tested.

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  47. Anon:

    1. The article is claiming to be a how-to manual on getting men.
    1(a). The article has a completely unexamined assumption that all women want to get a man.
    1(b). The article furthermore assumes that all men are only attracted to the same narrow subset of women: young, slim, shaven, curvy, fashionable and coiffed women.

    2. These assumptions are manifestly false. Not all women want to get a man, and plenty of women who are old, fat, hairy, unfashionable, and/or frizzy-haired HAVE husbands or boyfriends. To pretend that only women who look like supermodels or devote hours to their appearance have relationships is so bogglingly dishonest that I have no idea how someone could make that argument with a straight face.

    This is all that Holly is saying.

    I don't see anything wrong with wanting to be loved as I am, BTW. Why the fuck would I want to be with a guy who wants me to turn into someone I'm not? I'd rather just date someone who likes the way I already am.

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  48. (A new anonymous)
    So, literally, just as I was in the middle of reading this article/ the comments my SO approached me for hugs and kisses, telling me that I'm beautiful and that he really loves me. (I'm overweight, I wear glasses, My hair could do with a wash, and I'm wearing shapeless PJs for slouching around the house.) Weird. As we've been told, he can't actually exist, so I have called the deprogrammers and they will be taking him for re education shortly.

    -Cate

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  49. Every time I read garbage like that Psychology Today article (what a horror!), it makes me want to start banging on the author's door with a photograph of my boyfriend, and the story of how we met, as evidence directly contradicting their nonsense.

    Exhibit A: my boyfriend is certifiably gorgeous. He's generally known as "the guy who looks like Orlando Bloom." He's smart, he's articulate, he comes from a lovely respectable background, he has an intriguing aura of mystery, and he'll probably get a good job after graduation next month. When he wears a suit, women follow him around. Literally.

    Exhibit B: I met him at two in the morning, a year and a half ago, wandering around campus during a bout of insomnia. I was wearing jeans and a T-shirt. I didn't have makeup on, and my hair was, of all things, up in pin curls. Because I'd been bored. And let me tell you, pin curls (while still pinned!) are not a glamorous look. And as for me, I'm plenty symmetrical, but definitely on the plump side. Maxim would not approve.

    Exhibit C: He approached me while I was wandering around, and we stayed up all night talking. About, you know, life and history and politics and feminism and religion and those strange people over there riding bicycles half-naked.

    Astonishingly enough, we have now been together for a year and a half! With absolutely no lipgloss involved in the wooing process. In fact, most of the time he sees me, I'm not wearing any makeup at all. Because I have this strange philosophy that makeup and fanciness are optional things, which I can use to express myself when I happen to feel like it, or when it seems to me to be appropriate. Makeup isn't actually a requirement for daily life. Or for getting boyfriends.

    It would be lovely if mainstream media could grasp that concept. Clearly you should be syndicated, Holly.

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  50. Holly, what the fuck are you talking about? I always change my clothes by eating red paint.

    Anyway, yeah, that article was silly. I see making primary assumptions as normal, but what drives me crazy is that people will also assume those assumptions are truth, and will NEVER EVER EVER change them, even when they are faced with being absolutely wrongo. That's what makes me want to headbutt chainsaws.

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  51. I love it when you take really awful articles apart, Holly, but I can't even go read the original post because it makes my fat ass so sad. So in lieu of a more intelligent comment, I am going to leave you an example of the "female" gaze: http://bit.ly/gSJfYk (It's Elvis being whipped.)

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  52. Was my last comment deleted, or did it not go through yet?

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  53. It was deleted because it was creepy as all hell. You've kind of got a record of being creepypants on here and on Fetlife, and that didn't help my opinion, I'll grant.

    I guess if you can repost it without skeeving on other commenters, I'll let it through, but really, you don't have to go to all that trouble.

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  54. Meh, I was just wondering, what's gone is gone.

    Thanks for taking notice, I do try. ;) Keep up the good work!

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  55. "Read that article and the lack of reading might magically vanish."

    This is my new favorite baffling anonymous-blog-commenter sentence.

    flightless

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  56. @Holly:
    It's true that some women will gain weight weight but maintain the same waist to hip ratio. Given the article's other references to Jabba the Hutt, I'm not sure that's what they were talking about.

    Even if it was, different cultures prefer different body shapes, even if they might be all fit into a very general "hour-glass figure" mold. See, for example, Frank Marlowe's work with Hazda hunter-gatherers. The Hazda prefer somewhat higher WHR than Americans do (though still below 1, potentially it could still be fairly called "hourglass"). And even at the same WHR, they prefer a different body type (compared to Americans, narrower hips and a more protruding buttocks).

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  57. It aggravates me that people seem to think that there is one standard of beauty, and that this one magical standard is therefore what you should go after.

    I experience this mostly in a trans way, with, "But why would you want to be a man? You're so PRETTY!" They don't seem to realize that I don't give a fuck how the body looks to them; I care about how it feels to ME. They seem to think that I'm making myself ugly, when what I'm doing is making me MY kind of beautiful. The comfortable, happy kind.

    And if that ain't their kind of beautiful, well then. They can go ogling elsewhere.

    --Rogan

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  58. I get turned off by women wearing lip gloss. Natural lips look so much better. The author needs to realize that different guys have different preferences.

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  59. I don't actually get much out of being ogled except creeped the fuck out. Ogling so rarely leads to a healthy long-term partnership.

    Yes! The article completely fails to acknowledge the fact that being ogled and being asked out are not the same thing - and that the former does not necessarily even lead to the latter. A lot of guys are too intimidated to approach a woman they find uberhot, and a lot of oglers are not people you'd ever want to date.

    Meanwhile, let's say a woman is really beautiful (whatever that even means) and this causes a guy passing on the street to spontaneously ask her out. Does this mean she "has a man" now? Did her beauty work as promised and now she'll have companionship forever and ever? Or is it possible that this beautiful woman and her date will turn out to have nothing in common, and go their separate ways?

    The article just completely ignores how large a factor personality is when choosing a mate. I'd wager more people meet long-term partners at work or school or through mutual friends - venues where you have a chance to get to know them - then by getting picked up by someone purely on the basis of looks. A lot of people who are just average at first glance start being gorgeous once you interact with them and realize they're funny or love the same books you do or, yes, even feed homeless people.

    -perversecowgirl

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  60. Anon @ 11:21: Exactly! My boyfriend likes me with glasses and without makeup; he thinks I look less sexy when I get dressed up. It seems to me that that perspective should get equal time with the Yay Sexbombs perspective.

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  61. Fat, frizzy-haired, and bespectacled, and I've never had trouble getting dates. I have an awesome BF who is smokin' hot to me but who doesn't fit the fashionable mode of male hawtness any more than I fit the female one; he'd be at home in a kilt and broadcloth shirt, not in Abercrombie and Fitch. He thinks I'm hot and I think he's hot. It works. It works well. ;) Though this ragazine would probably think neither of us was hot.

    He likes it when I get all tarted up (more for the clothes than the makeup), but he also likes my everyday look, and he recognizes that makeup-free is best for some occasions. Like ones when you'll be sucking a lot of face and don't want to eat makeup all night.

    It has always felt to me like there's Standard Attractive--people almost everyone can agree are pretty--and then there's chemistry, and they don't necessarily go together. Especially when you add in variables like whether the guy is looking for someone who can expound about fantasy literature at 3am.

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  62. perverse cowgirl, it also works the other way, i.e, you meet someone you think is gorgeous at first, but then you start learning that you and they are...well, to be polite, "Not compatible at all", y'know?

    So, yeah. Good times.

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  63. RoboCop: exactly. So clearly, looks aren't the be-all and end-all when it comes to relationships.

    I can see why women's magazines take the stance that women need to wear makeup or else die alone - they need women to support their sponsors. But why the fuck is Psychology Today saying the same shit and trying to pass it off as science? Come to think of it...what sorts of ads were in that issue? Could there possibly be ads for makeup and hair products in there? (I don't read that magazine so I really don't know)

    -perversecowgirl

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  64. Well, I'll always answer "government conspiracy" to that one, but I -am- a nut, so not sure how reliable that opinion is.

    Still, it's disconcerting how most mainstream things seem to have strangely similar opinions, on love, life, politics, etc.

    Maybe the author is just a Cosmo fan, which is all at once hilarious and concerning.

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  65. Aebhel,
    1. The article is claiming to be a how-to manual on getting men.
    No, it so totally is not. It does not give any "you-should" advice. The article gives only a "you-must-not" piece of advice - dont tell a man what he must like in you, because it would be useless. And namely it opposes the "you must love women the way they are" point of view. Indeed, to oppose it the author is mentioning that men prefer lipgloss to mustache and hourglass to bloated spoon siluette, but only to oppose this very point of view, not to proclame that all men like lipgloss and using it is the only and the sure way to get a man.
    Still, if any man prefers mustache it's also fine, no one can make him like something else either, fair enough.

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  66. My housemate and I discussed this post tonight, and concluded that Psychology Today is 100% made of poop. Because we're grown-ups, and that's how grown-ups talk. ;)

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  67. Anon 1:59,

    Do you ever pause for a moment to wonder why you seem to be the only person in this comments section to have taken that interpretation away from the linked column? That if, in fact, your interpretation (which seems a little convoluted, as best I can tell) is the correct one, the author seems to have been spectacularly unsuccessful in communicating it?

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  68. Eugh, I can't stand Psychology Today. I checked it out once as a future psychologist and it was such a joke. It's actually pretty embarrassing and kind of upsetting that that is what is going out to the world as a "representative" of psychology.

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  69. God, this article is so full of shit! I cannot believe somebody actually posts something like that on a site called PSYCHOLOGY TODAY.

    Men just want women who look pretty. Women just want money. Well, yeah, for a quick fuck, maybe. Try to build a relationship on THAT only.

    I like beauty, but real beauty. If you define it as "looking appealing to men" you have serious issues. The worst thing for me is that it was written by a woman.

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  70. Hershele OstropolerApril 26, 2011 at 2:15 PM

    "French women, too, buy into the idea that there's some fountain of youth at the Clarins counter. But, perhaps because feminism never seeped into mainstream culture in France like it did here, they generally have a healthier and more realistic relationship with beauty, accepting it as the conduit to love, sex, relationships, and increased opportunities. [...]"

    I'm not French or a Franceologist here, so I'm just putting this up in case I have any French readers--madames et mademoiselles, is France in fact the land of universal beauty, where all women have found perfect happiness through perfect femininity?


    I ... suppose it's possible (though, as has been noted, highly unlikely) French women know nothing about those horrid feminists such as Simone de Beauvoir, and are thus more willing to accept the idea that their primary role is to be decorative. But I'm not sure that would be an argument for French superiority.

    * * *

    And I'm pretty sure no feminist, EVER has compared FGM to eyebrow plucking.

    Except in terms of cultural function. I imagine pretty much every woman would prefer to pluck her eyebrows than cut her clitoris off, but pretty much every woman would even more prefer to get rid of the de facto obligation to do either.

    The point of the article you linked was to arque with the opinion "Women don't have to try and became attractive to men, on the contrary - men are supposed to like what women consider good in themselves.", I agree with the article on that and I disagree with the author's opponents,

    So you think women should have to try to become (and remain) attractive to men?

    Also, every man in the world who is in a relationship with a woman is in a relationship with an ugly woman. Your wife is ugly. I don't know what she looks like, but I guarantee you there are straight men out there who will look at her and make obnoxious fake retching sounds, and better-raised straight men who will feel the same way but not feel compelled to announce it. But no one is tellin them to date her. They are welcome to go and find women more to their liking.

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  71. I laughed so much while reading this post. You are an amazing writer. I'm hoping to learn from you someday. Thank you!

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  72. This probably says more about me than you really want to know, but:

    It's Mesdames. Mesdemoiselles.

    You know, in the interests of pedants everywhere.

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  73. I feel this only strengthens my claim of not being a Franceologist.

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  74. Why must terrible authors always put French women as examples? :(

    My dad's French. Though I was born in Mexico, I lived in various parts of France with my parents when I was little for 4 years.
    It's been a long time since then, but I still frequently visit Chambray to see my grandma.

    I must say my experience of French women is pretty different from what this article says!

    Back when I lived in France, a woman with make up was a pretty rare occurence.

    I remember this very well because my mom (who always wears make up and never leaves the house without it) frequently had women asking her if she was going to a party or some other event.
    When my mom would say no, the reply she would get was often "Oh, it's just that you're wearing make up, so I assumed you were going somewhere special today!"

    It took a little while before they all got used to my mom wearing make up everywhere :P

    Our female neighbors consisted mostly of married women with jobs and families to care for. They would leave early in the morning for work and come back home at night.
    Almost all the kids in my neighborhood went to and from school in their bikes. I think I was the only kid whose mom would drive them to school.

    Another funny thing was that the women rarely shaved. My mom would always complain about our neighbors (and my grandma) wearing tank tops and bathing suits while sporting hairy armpits.
    I didnt mind, but it used to drive my mom completely bonkers.

    I'm not saying this is how ALL French women are! Everyone is different, there are all sorts of humans in the world. This is just what I have experienced in Paris, Lille, Chambray, and Lyon.

    Psychology Today, plzleaveFrenchwimminzalonekthx D:

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  75. Holly, you are fast becoming my favorite blogger, and that puts you in some pretty stellar company, I must say. I'm with an early commenter, waiting for that book.

    RoboCop – you might be creepy, I really can’t say having only just now noticed you. But you are funny and I like the way you handled Holly’s assertion. So, I guess I’m interested enough in you to find out and make my own opinion.

    Anon @6:34 - I find it curious that you’ve been married 27 years and yet have still heard, “Love me as I am” enough times to see the PT article as timely. Is it your wife that is demanding this of you? Unreasonable woman.

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  76. co* VIRTUALLY ALL FRENCH WOMAN SHAVE THEIR ARMPITS* ugh

    a Franceologist, as French as they get

    PS: I am a big fan of yours, Holly, and it's refreshing to stop by here when I'm tired of being snarky and cynical alone

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  77. "Most of my life, I'm not trying to get laid. I'm going to work, shopping, walking around my neighborhood, hanging out with friends, whatever. If beauty is all about giving dudes wood, I don't see why I should be beautiful at those times.

    And while wood has its place in dating and sexual attraction, if someone tells me that I can't be hired or taken seriously or treated decently because I don't give him wood, he's an asshole. Male sexuality isn't evil; but believing that male sexuality should be catered to in nonsexual situations or determines someone's human worth is evil.

    There seems to be a huge conflation in this article (and, unfortunately, in a lot of other places) between "you should be be beautiful to get a man" and "you should be beautiful all the time and everywhere, just because." The first is sort of true, with the caveat that men's preferences differ considerably and their attraction isn't purely physical. The second is complete sexist bullshit."


    NO KIDDING. You want to know why more women don't go to the grocery store, work, or the mall dressed like Britney Spears? BECAUSE THEY AREN'T LOOKING TO FIND DATES THEN.

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  78. Hershele OstropolerApril 28, 2011 at 10:37 PM

    That's why "if bars and clubs aren't working out for you, pick up women at the supermarket" always strikes me as creepy. "They put their guards down!" Yeah, until motherfuckers start sliming on them in the produce section, sure.

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  79. Holly, excellent point about those attractiveness studies truly relying on stereotypes of beauty.

    I included this in my weekly links roundup: http://www.the-beheld.com/2011/04/latest-beauty-news-from-head-to-toe.html (I write a beauty blog, but it's more conceptual/philosophical/alternative than product-based.) Thank you for such excellent work here--I love reading everything you write and the beauty stuff in particular always makes me think.

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  80. They also seem to fail to acknowledge that you can be the most beautiful chick with supermodel looks and still be a totally intolerable BITCH. I know plenty of guys who have dated "beautiful" chicks only to RUN away from the relationship as fast as possible when they realized that not only does the chick buy into the beauty standard, but also every other stereotype - ie that she can be demanding, whiny, prissy, spend all their money, etc.

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  81. "...[French women] generally have a healthier and more realistic relationship with beauty, accepting it as the conduit..."

    Wait, wait... I thought the stereotype of French women was that they don't shave under their armpits and often smell bad, thus rendering them useful as proof that not worrying excessively about cosmetics (and/or having a sex-positive attitude) will subject you to well-deserved derision (which you will have "asked for").

    They keep using that phrase "French women"; I do not think it means what they think it means.

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  82. P.S. As someone who is pretty much only ever attracted to female persons but also strongly dislikes make-up, jewelry, and (to a lesser extent) gendered clothing, I find it quite difficult to take this stuff seriously.

    ...which also makes it rather difficult to remember that some people do.

    ...which seems ridiculous to me. No makeup == good. Casual/comfy clothing == good. (This has been a public service message from over here. Thank you.)

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  83. I'm a psych major and if there was a magazine that I want to distance myself from, Psychology Today is it. The first time I saw PT I was horrified by the way it portrayed psychology. It was a gossip rag that's worse than the mainstream gossip rags because it advertises itself as a "psychology" magazine to lend itself some credibility.

    The second time I saw it, it was in class discussion and I had to calm myself down before I started ranting about it. Hey, I thought, the info seemed good, maybe it got better when I was avoiding it.

    Then I saw http://jezebel.com/#!5791361/psychology-today-hates-feminism. And yeah, I knew it was crap, but I didn't know how crap till it was highlighted out to me. I'm horrified that people actually still read that magazine.

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  84. But, but, but, you guys... just look at this poor man who is having so much trouble finding women on the street who wear exactly the right kind of high heels, so that he can ogle them! How is he supposed to deal with this sub-par eye candy!? We are totally letting him down, as a gender, ladies: http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/i-anonymous/Content?oid=7654332

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  85. As a French woman, and considering myself a feminist, reading this article gave me the urge to choke myself in the hope the physical trauma will make me forget.
    Just in case anyone had a doubt, my country doesn't even resemble the movies and Paris is not more the whole of France than NY is USA.

    I wont say anything more, all have been said in your article or the comments.

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  86. You know there's a problem with the world when my answer to your question about "Is there a way to dress that advertises "I want a boyfriend"?" is to link you back to a post you wrote, which has a wonderful answer about the "I want a boyfriend" uniform.

    Anywho. The answer I could think of was at the end of http://pervocracy.blogspot.com/2009/06/oh-boi.html : "Man, there's not much of a slot in the gender spectrum for being butch, female, and straight. Maybe in San Francisco? If it were a viable, non-social-life-killing option I'd take it. I used to be a lot manlier, used to have super-short hair and dress like a dude, and it just didn't work out. I loved how it felt, but people's reactions sucked: strangers would be jerks about it and guys told me they really weren't attracted. Now that I've got long lovely red hair and wear skirts and push-up bras and shit, life is better. I still love my flannel and my steel-toe boots and my power tools, but I don't have the patience or drive (or the she'd-be-hot-in-anything bone structure) to swim against the current on this. Part of attracting boys is wearing the "I'm attracted to boys" uniform, and, well, I know it's weak but I'd rather have the boys than be a Gender Revolutionary."

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  87. Trust - Funny thing is, though, these days I'm dating a straight guy who loves butch chicks. So it did work out in the end.

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  88. You'd think if true hourglass figures were so popular and men EVOLVED to be attracted to them above all others, that they would be a lot more common than they are. You know, if all the non-hourglass (read: ugly) women weren't breeding, you'd think other body shapes would have been bred out of humanity. True hourglass figures are actually really rare. Its almost like the idea thats thats the one true beautiful body type is false! Dun dun dun duhhhhhhhh!

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  89. To understand what it takes to be beautiful, we need to be very clear about what being beautiful means—being sexually appealing to men.

    ...

    I don't even have an emoticon for the face I'm making. I'm seriously just staring at my screen in slack-jawed horror.

    Ok, first of all, person who wrote this, beauty is... you know what, never mind, first of all, fuck you.

    Second of all, fuck you again.

    Third of all: I consider myself an aesthete. I love beauty, I think it makes the world a better, nicer place. I love to look at beautiful women, beautiful men, beautiful stretches of countryside, beautiful buildings, beautiful flowers and trees and animals and clouds and you get the idea. Even just limiting it to beautiful women, there are so many things I look for. The juxtaposition (or lack thereof) of colors. Straight vs. rounded shapes. Contrast vs. complement. The flash of intelligence in her eye, the quirk of humor at the corner of her mouth. The marriage of masculine and feminine traits. (Yes, I adore butch girls, I think they are absolutely lovely.) The way two women can be equally gorgeous while being completely different.

    Ain't a bit of that has to do with being "sexually appealing," especially not "to men." Beauty is beauty. Whether a guy gets hard from it is completely beside the point. (Also, it serves to illustrate the idea that there are a million and a half different ideas of beauty. The "trick" to being beautiful is to figure out which one you're in, and then do your damndest to look like yourself, as hard as you can. The people who find you beautiful will find you beautiful. Anyone who doesn't find you beautiful, and who feels like treating you badly because of that - fuck 'em, you didn't need them in your life anyway.)

    Fourth of all: hey, did I mention fuck you?

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  90. Amen Holly, Amen Mary.
    I know it's inevitable for people like this journalist to exist - but what saddens me is that SHE is the one entitled to share her (moronic and destructive) thoughts with millions, rather than you brilliant people.

    Thankfully, attitudes vary from one social context to another. My coping strategy has been to look for people and places where more affirmative and imaginative standards of beauty reign; and when I don't have a choice, to say to the less affirmative and imaginative: fuck all y'all.

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  91. For some reason while reading this, something has been bugging me and I think I know what it is. No one in this comment section has made the separation between dressing up/using make up/etc. in attempt to be more attractive and merely caring about one's looks and being presentable, which makes a woman more attractive to this man at least. The former is a tactic that is hard to maintain to say the least while the latter is merely taking care of oneself through diet, exercise, and dare I say it, having a sense of fashion and shaving one's armpits.

    And now I'm a womanizer and a misogynist.

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  92. Anon - I don't know what the difference between "more attractive" and "being presentable" is.

    You're not a misogynist, as long as you shave your armpits. :)

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