I was reading an exasperating Reddit post (I wouldn't dare link you to anything so asinine) and a bunch of fellows started talking about how much they love seeing a woman in a skirt; that skirt-wearing is sexy. "Do they know how much we like it?" To which a bright lady said, "I doubt most women will care. Women don't dress up for men, they dress up for each other." Which, sorry dudes, is absolutely true. I think, and this is true for me most definitely, unless a gal is meeting up with a singular man she is interested in impressing, she is probably more likely going to dress up with a what-women-like opinion in her mind than with a what-men-like opinion. And her idea of what-women-like is ultimately what she likes, so she's going to dress in a way that makes her, personally, feel good and what will aesthetically please her and her peer group.
I kept reading. A woman, probably catering to the Internet's massive population of slavering, panting young men who love any attention whore, said something along the lines of "That is stupid, fashion should be used to attract the opposite sex; to show men what you want from them." I had to read the statement twice. It has haunted me since I've read it. What an archaic way of thinking about the function of clothing and of women in general. I'm single and would like a boyfriend; should I dress my sluttiest (ultimately showing potential mates what I want) in hopes of attracting one? I'm sure I'd a attract a really, really great guy. I can't believe anyone would think that, let alone utter it, put it on the Internet, try to pass it off as legit. No one replied to it in either agreement or disagreement but I've been so, so tempted to pick a fight with the moron that posted it.
For me, clothing and fashion and what I pick out on a day to day basis (usually, I do have my lazy days where all I can think to pull on is a sweater and jeans and flats and fuck it) isn't designed to attract men but more so to make me feel good. That should be what everyone's wardrobe is about; what makes you, individually, feel like hot sauce. It's generally just a nice bonus if a boy says something (this never happens, though, and you wonder why we don't dress up for you), "You look cute today," or "I like that top," and if I am actually interested in said boy maybe I'll make it a point to repeat or reproduce in some way the outfit he's said he liked.
Of course the greatest compliment comes from another woman. You know you've picked a winner when a lady, especially a strange lady, stops you and says how amazing or great or neat you look. My favorite items in my closet are ones that invite compliments from women: a wool Guess coat, leather gladiator sandals, a pair of rainbow sequin flats I picked up 6 years ago (girls LOVE these, I always get compliments), a vintage flannel shirt. These aren't statement pieces, they're not amazing items, but they're things that flatter me and maybe set me apart a little bit and that's what deems a compliment from another girl.
My feelings about beauty are similar. It's great to have a man say that you're beautiful but it's so, so rare that a man will say it without motivation. I have had a great number of male friends and acquaintances who have never even uttered so much as a "You look nice," but give them a single iota of sexual or romantic attention and all of a sudden it's, "I've always thought you were beautiful," and "From the day I met you I have always been blown away by your eyes." Then why didn't you say so when we met?
It's nice, don't stop doing it, boys, but it can feel not very genuine sometimes. I have a particular male friend who has, from day one, always called me beautiful. That's how he addresses me, "Hey Beautiful." And it doesn't feel too genuine, either, and I actually suspect that's how he talks to all of the women in his life, but it's sweeter coming from him because he's always said it.
In that same vein, however, once at a party a strange boy came up to me and horrified me with, "Do you wear makeup?" I said I did but not very much and he smiled and said, "I could tell. You have such a natural beauty, your face is so clean and pretty. You don't even need make up." I was so uncomfortable. This was the first thing this guy was saying to me, ever, and all I could think was, "What a cheap, sneaky way to try and get a girl to fuck you." I'm too smart for that shit. Usually. I don't know, maybe he meant it, maybe he was so flabbergasted by my bare face and glasses (I was feeling pretty lazy that night, I remember) that he just couldn't contain himself but to me it felt false.
When a strange female comes up to you with the same kind of flabbergasm and ejaculates something about how pretty you are, totally different story. For the most part (admittedly I have a very limited experience with lesbians in my peer group) all they mean is what they're saying: You're Beautiful. They have no ulterior motives, they're not trying to bang you, they just want you to know that they think you are so pretty they couldn't even hold it in. I think sometimes women think that other women only pay lady compliments because they want to be complimented themselves, and a lot of my lady compliments are met with a compliment from the woman I am complimenting, but I don't really think that theory is true. If women only complimented each other to get compliments in return there would be a lot more gals out there throwing around praises to strangers. I can remember every single time a girl I didn't know has said I was attractive and I hold close to my heart many memories of hearing it from girlfriends. It's such a warm, gooey feeling knowing that someone genuinely thinks you're lovely and not only that but they felt the need to take the time to tell you so.
It actually sort of makes me sad how many times a week I see a pretty girl or a girl with a neat outfit on and I reserve my compliments. How often am I looked at in a high regard but not complimented? How often are you? And I'm too horrified to tell men I like anything about them when I do because that's never, ever viewed as strictly platonic. "That's a cool shirt," always seems to become an invitation to a blow job I didn't know I was handing out. But all fear of looking foolish or ~interested~ aside, how wonderful would the world be if we all just started saying the positive little things that floated through our minds concerning other people's appearances, work, everything? Maybe I'm becoming a real softy in my old age and a little bit more of a hippy every day (I just bought all-natural shampoo, by the way; paraben and sulfate free!) but it seems to me like I could benefit a little more from some real-life encouragement (appearance and otherwise) and you probably could, too. Let's give it a shot. Let's tell girls they have nice hair, let's tell boys their sweaters are attractive, let's tell classmates their ideas are intriguing, let's tell strangers they have neat shoes. Without motivation.