to be surprised by how many women don't seem to realise that we are conditioned to think certain looks are attractive?

(228 Posts)

Inspired by a few recent threads.

High heels.
Exposed cleavage.
Cinched waists.
Exposed legs (in skirts or tight trousers).
Tight/skimming clothing.
Hairless legs/armpits.

All these are in order to attract heterosexual males. Dress like it if you want to (I certainly feel I look better if I utilise a few of the above) but don't fool yourself that it has nothing to do with socialisation.

I'm sure someone else can put it far more eloquently but I needed to let this out before I have another argument with a friend!

FobblyWoof Tue 22-Jan-13 20:39:23


At all

FlouncingMintyy Tue 22-Jan-13 20:41:20

What does she think then? What is her argument?

DrCoconut Tue 22-Jan-13 20:41:43

Definitely true. If you look at how the ideal woman or indeed an has changed over the years it is definitely social/fashion rather than nature.

goingsgood Tue 22-Jan-13 20:42:11

How do you know they fool themselves?

FabulousFreaks Tue 22-Jan-13 20:42:52

It blows my mind that some people don't grasp this and never question it.

My friend argues that she dresses for herself because she thinks it looks good. She disagrees that she thinks it looks good because we're conditioned to think so; she thinks that 'it just looks better'.

I get quite frustrated with her sometimes.

Ragwort Tue 22-Jan-13 20:45:40

confused - what are you trying to say, you don't approve of this way of dressing but you do it anyway - errr ................. what is your point?

FWIW I have never embraced any of the above but never seemed to have a problem 'attracting' heterosexual males <when I wanted to> grin

GothAnneGeddes Tue 22-Jan-13 20:45:43

Bring race into and then see people fail to understand why they think Beyonce is considered more attractive then Alex Wek.

Clue: social constructs.

CloudsAndTrees Tue 22-Jan-13 20:46:10

What makes you think they don't know? I realise that I am conditioned to think certain things are attractive, and that other things are unattractive, but I don't care.

If I lived in another time and another place, I may well think that hairy armpits and fat to the point of having no shape is the prettiest way to be. But I live here and now so social conditioning or not, I like what I like. I don't see that it matters why.

Not at all Ragwort! It just surprises me how many women don't seem to realise why they think certain things make them look more attractive or better.

BeanJuice Tue 22-Jan-13 20:47:45

I know what you mean grin

People are like "I'm not influenced by society - I do it because I like it!"

Anyone who thinks they aren't influenced by society in any way is deluded

Ragwort Tue 22-Jan-13 20:48:20

Did anyone just see that programme on the 'Really' channel or something like that about peoples' attitude to money - there were some girls dressed up with the sole intention of attracting footballers or other 'rich' men, it was hideous. sad

I wouldn't have such low self esteem if these social constraints hadn't been thrust everywhere when I was in my teens.


cantspel Tue 22-Jan-13 20:50:45

And how is it different for men?

You dont find many short, fat balding men with an overdose of builders bum on show being called attractive either.

Chunderella Tue 22-Jan-13 20:52:40


I'd go to the wall for any woman's right to do whatever she wants with her body, which includes the way she dresses it. But call it what it is. I like wearing mascara, I didn't organically come up with the idea myself with no influence from wider society. I find it hard to believe that any of the millions of other British women who like wearing mascara did, either.

Regarding the body hair, you're going to get posters telling you that lots of cultures see it as unclean for both men and women, which is true, and saying that means it isn't a gender thing here, which isn't. If all of us who remove body hair were doing so because we're influenced by Middle Eastern culture, they'd be right. We're not- that isn't why I do it- so they aren't.

goingsgood Tue 22-Jan-13 20:52:58

Don't men have a more narrow choice of how to dress than women do?

goingsgood Tue 22-Jan-13 20:53:33

In terms of what is socially acceptable

All different people think all different looks are attractive, and lots of women have a look that they prefer.

Why is it 'conditioning' if someone thinks that look is attractive but not when they prefer to be/to like lots of tattoos or tracksuits and trainers and no makeup or any other of the millions of different looks there are?

I never really conformed to the look that you describe above and I never had any problems attracting anyone.

Missy I'm not saying that you can't attract a man unless you dress this way. I'm saying that women who dress this way are (often unconsciously) doing it because it conforms to what we are conditioned to believe most men find attractive.

Procrastinating Tue 22-Jan-13 20:58:05

It surprises me too.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Tue 22-Jan-13 21:01:20


ICBINEG Tue 22-Jan-13 21:03:55


I can just imagine some of the "but I just happen to like high heels" gang walking round the national portrait gallery all "wtf with all the pictures of uggos?".

So if a woman dresses that way its conditioning, she can't possibly think it looks nicer? So what about the women who don't dress that way? Are they not subject to the same adverts/magazines/tv/other influences that everyone else is?

Missy my point is that some women don't seem to understand why they think it looks nicer. Like my friend.

RubyrooUK Tue 22-Jan-13 21:09:30

Well I think obviously we are conditioned to think certain things are attractive. That is the whole principle behind fashion apart from anything else...that's why people are wearing peplums at the moment even if it adds four inches to their waistline. Humans like to define what is attractive and then fall in line with it.

So it stands to reason that women dress a certain way because they think it will attract the opposite sex too. Even if it is all subconscious.

Personally I want men, women and even aliens to find me attractive. I'm very greedy. But also lazy. Hence I can't be arsed with many of the things on your list. grin

Some women think that looks nicer, some women don't. Why can't the women who do think that particular look is nicer for them be credited with the same brains to form an opinion as the women who prefer different looks?

HollyBerryBush Tue 22-Jan-13 21:11:46

High heels.
Exposed cleavage.
Cinched waists.
Exposed legs (in skirts or tight trousers).
Tight/skimming clothing.
Hairless legs/armpits.

Shall we all invest in a naquib or burkha? Would that make you feel better OP?

WorraLiberty Tue 22-Jan-13 21:13:24

So if you choose to wear baggy unattractive trousers and a t.shirt, you haven't been conditioned by society?

If you happen to hate baggy trousers and t.shirts and opt to wear a smart skirt and a blouse, you have been conditioned by society?

Is that it? confused

So because one style might be less attractive to men, it automatically means the woman only likes the other style because she's been conditioned by society?

I walked into B&Q the other day to choose some wallpaper. There were many many different styles to choose from.

I chose the style I like best and the styles I really didn't like, I left on the shelf.

Have I been conditioned by society to choose a certain wallpaper...and have those who chose the wallpaper I hated, not been conditioned by society because their choices were different to mine?

I like chicken and mushroom pie...I hate steak and kidney pie.

That ^^ is my personal taste and nothing to do with society...just like my wallpaper and choice of dress.

Feelingood Tue 22-Jan-13 21:14:21

I think some of those things have their routes in innate drives like when looking for a healthy mate men subconsciously look at hips, women look a bums (think thrusting)

These are left over from long ago before we evolved to living as we do I societies.

As looks are often part of our own sense of identity through bodily expression it can very much be argued that these are indeed social constructs so yes I agree with the conditioning thing. I also think some people just follow fashion in clothes and beauty blindly.

Missy I'm not saying that they are less intelligent, as I said in my OP I do/wear several of the things on the list. I'm not criticising women who dress this way, or those who don't. Women should wear whatever they feel best in.

I just don't understand how women who do think they look best dressed this way can fail to realise the underlying context.

Holly I've been tempted, it would make getting ready a lot quicker! grin

WorraLiberty Tue 22-Jan-13 21:15:40


I can just imagine some of the "but I just happen to like high heels" gang walking round the national portrait gallery all "wtf with all the pictures of uggos?"

Can you explain what you mean by that?

Are you inferring that women who like to wear high heels see people as ugly, or are you inferring that they're thick or something and won't understand the subjects of the paintings?

Genuinely confused here.

AViewfromtheFridge Tue 22-Jan-13 21:15:45

You're missing the point. She's not saying we shouldn't do it, just pointing out how heavily we're influenced by societal expectations.

The teenage girls I teach are so groomed these days it's terrifying.

CaptainVonTrapp Tue 22-Jan-13 21:16:57

If I think I look better in a skirt and my friend thinks she looks better in trousers which of us has been conditioned? Or both?

LaQueen Tue 22-Jan-13 21:17:07

I think genetically we are designed to find symmetrical features, clear complexions, bright eyes, good teeth, full lips, shiny hair etc...etc...physically alluring because typically they denote good genes and good health - I remember watching a very interesting Horizon progrma on it once.

Same with a woman's hip to waist ratio...can't remember what the ratio was, but men were attracted to women with neat waists and curvy hips - regardless of whether the woman had big breasts, or heavy thighs, or a flat bum, or whatever.

Apparently, the hip to waist ratio denotes good fertility etc?

But you haven't answered why this particular look is down to society while all the other millions of looks there are is down to choice?

Perhaps some women (myself included) are more susceptible?

InNeedOfBrandy Tue 22-Jan-13 21:23:03

There is so many different styles to choose from nowadays! People can dress how they want to dress and do, tis called personal taste.

It's the whole I'm superior because I'm not dumb enough to wear a bit of lippy like you, when really anyone can wear whatever they want to wear.

thebody Tue 22-Jan-13 21:23:40

So as a married mom of 4 I dress 'well' high heels makeup etc to 'attract a male'?? Really.

Grow up.. I do this as it makes ME feel good about myself.

Men do the same, work out and dress well.

If you don't wear makeup or heels well good for you. Noone cares at all.

It's about personal choice, thankfully my religion and country allow me to choose how I dress and look, work and drive, have a vote and participate

But if course that thread would be far too sensitive to start aye???

InNeedOfBrandy Tue 22-Jan-13 21:23:44

laqueen isn't it something to do with good child birthing hips grin

ApocalypseThen Tue 22-Jan-13 21:24:58

I'm astonished at the defensive tone of some of the responses.

With regard to people who choose to dress against attraction conventions, the point is that they choose not to conform, but they know what conforming would look like.

ApocalypseThen Tue 22-Jan-13 21:26:27

Grow up.. I do this as it makes ME feel good about myself.

Why do you think it makes you feel good to conform to socially conditioned expectations?

Or maybe it is a genuine preference based on their own personal taste, that they would probably still choose if they lived in a world with no magazines, papers, internet, tv or advertising and stayed indoors until they were 30?

mercibucket Tue 22-Jan-13 21:27:44

it's education, particularly social sciences, and critical thinking

both pretty lacking at secondary school so it's only if you either study some a levels or go on to a certain type of undergrad course, that you are exposed to these concepts in the uk system, or so it seems.

Brandy It's the whole I'm superior because I'm not dumb enough to wear a bit of lippy like you, when really anyone can wear whatever they want to wear.

Have you actually read my posts?

SolidGoldFrankensteinandmurgh Tue 22-Jan-13 21:28:33

It's a very narrow definion of what is seen as attractive, though. In some cultural groups, a woman wearing high heels and revealing her legs would be thought of as slutty and immodest and contemptible (not that this is in any way better). In other cultural groupings (green activists or whatever), a woman wearing mainstream fashion and makeup would be seen as shallow and vain.

ICBINEG Tue 22-Jan-13 21:30:40

worra I am saying that if you assume that you choose what you find attractive with no influence from society or with some over arching absolute definition of beauty it must be difficult to explain why all the women that were considered great beauties hundreds of years ago now look ugly.

You can wear high heels and accept that your view that they make you feel attractive is mostly down to current fashion ideals, or you can believe it is your own unique take on things that randomly lots of other people seem to agree with or you can assume that high heels are intrinsically attractive. IF you believe either of the latter two then you would have trouble explaining why such things are only considered attractive periodically through history rather than generally.

Shakey1500 Tue 22-Jan-13 21:30:50

It's ambiguous I feel.

Nobody can categorically state or prove that all women who wear any of the listed items have been socially conditioned. It may be (for one individual), it may not be for another.

And even if it is ever proven, it's not like millions of women will stop wearing xyz on the basis of it.

WorraLiberty Tue 22-Jan-13 21:31:30

I'm astonished at the defensive tone of some of the responses


You can't see why people get defensive when some randoms on a chat board tell them they know more about them and their choices than they do about themselves?

This tired old argument gets more ridiculous every time it's played out on these boards.

Some people have read up on this societal conditioning theory and therefore in their minds it's 100% ifs, no buts, no room for personal tastes etc.

It's as though some people have brainwashed themselves which is ironic really, since they often claim anyone who doesn't agree with them are errrrr....brainwashed confused

Just because you happen to believe something, it doesn't make it true.

That's true Shakey.

InNeedOfBrandy Tue 22-Jan-13 21:31:58

I don't get why you would make yourself dowdy and frumpy unless you had major issues. It's not hard to wear trousers/skirt shirt/smart top shoes (flat or heeled) and brush your hair. It must be harder to actively source frumpy disney piglet tshirts in an adult size and jeans that don't fit then a half decent supermarket outfit (which would look miles better then the piglet tshirt and jeans combo)

Its not hard to look nice and keep personal hygiene up to scratch and I don't see how actively not doing that makes you a better person.

thebody Tue 22-Jan-13 21:32:23

Because apocalypse I am actually am 47 and I choose to do what I do.

I couldn't care a shiny shite how other women or men dress.

I am amazed that anyone actually does?

I am amazed anyone has the time to care..

Why are we women taking each other apart like this?

Wags v demure v lippy wearers v anyone else different?

Seriously why???

Who said anything about being a better person?

SolidGoldFrankensteinandmurgh Tue 22-Jan-13 21:32:45

Also, while the preference for 'clear skin and bright eyes' denoting health might have some basis in evolutionary biology, a lot of the other stuff doesn't, because the fashions for 'attractiveness' have varied quite a lot over the years. Big bums, small bums, big tits, flat chests, rounded bodies, lean ones, etc.

WorraLiberty Tue 22-Jan-13 21:34:16

ICBINEG so because you choose to wear flat shoes, you'd have trouble understanding why some women who happen to wear high heels are considered attractive?

Sorry but your theory only holds up if the women wearing high heels aren't particularly bright.

Thankfully our footwear is not a measure of our intelligence.

mercibucket Tue 22-Jan-13 21:34:20

oops my post might not read quite like i meant it to.

i mean just that we as a society don't value or teach sociology or psychology in schools as much as we could or imo should, not that people are uneducated, which i think my first post might have read like blush

thebody I'm interested in why women dress how they do, not whether they agree with what I think looks good. As I've said a couple of times already, I think women should wear whatever they think looks best.

ICBINEG Tue 22-Jan-13 21:35:59

"Just because you happen to believe something, it doesn't make it true."

Are you saying that God doesn't exist?

Or maybe that just because you think it is all massive coincidence that the things you see advertised in every magazine just so happen to be the things that make you feel attractive doesn't mean that it actually is a coincidence?

ApocalypseThen Tue 22-Jan-13 21:36:02

Or maybe it is a genuine preference based on their own personal taste,

Yeah...maybe. It's just a bizarre coincidence that it's heavily promoted and socially rewarded, changes according to time and culture. But we can't discount the possibility that millions of women in a certain time and place hit on exactly the same choices which, by coincidence, are the ones they see all around them as ideal.

Feelingood Tue 22-Jan-13 21:36:12

the body right here : "thankfully my religion and country allow me.." that there consitutes a significant fabric of the society you live in.

WorraLiberty Tue 22-Jan-13 21:36:15

Shakey that's it 100% in nutshell

I'm so going to steal that post every time this tired argument is brought out grin

InNeedOfBrandy Tue 22-Jan-13 21:37:56

because OP you are inferring that you are clever and people who disagree with you (like your "friend") are stupid, dumb, brainwashed females.

ICBINEG Tue 22-Jan-13 21:38:29

who said I wear flats? shock

I have no problem with people thinking high heels make them attractive who acknowledge the fact that societal conditioning is behind the whole thing.

I have a problem with the people who think they came up with the idea all by themselves....because they didn't.

WorraLiberty Tue 22-Jan-13 21:38:41

ICBINEG just because you believe a woman's choice of clothing (if it were a short skirt and high heels) means she's been conditioned by society, doesn't make it true.

^^ Can I put that any clearer?

Basically some people believe it's true and some people don't.

As Shakey said, it can't be proven either way.

ApocalypseThen Tue 22-Jan-13 21:39:46

Why are we women taking each other apart like this?

We aren't. We're talking about some fairly widely accepted and uncontroversial sociological theories. It's not a criticism of women - or anyone - to say that we're all a part of society, and choices that we think we're making independently are socially conditioned before we are even aware of them.

mercibucket Tue 22-Jan-13 21:40:05

the theories around women's clothes are really interesting, not thst i know much about it

Worra so what's your take on it? Why is the mainstream fashion preference for high heels, tight or revealing clothing? I'm genuinely interested btw, not trying to be snarky.

rainbowrainbowrainbow Tue 22-Jan-13 21:40:41

YANBU joyful

LessMissAbs Tue 22-Jan-13 21:41:24

Socialisation yes. Puely to attact heteosexual males? I don't think so, apart from exposed cleavage and some make up too perhaps.

Women dress for sport, for comfort, to compete against othe women, for fashion, to look smat, to stand out in a crowd (and therefore be more memorable at work), to feel good, as well as to appeal to heterosexual males.

Your theory falls down in that not all women change the way they dress after marriage, when they have presumably attracted a heterosexual male.

Many of these clothing choices deter just as many men as they attract.

High heels elongate the line and make it possible for short people like me to wear certain fashions, which just don't look right with flat shoes.

If you look at the Olympics, women are dressed in very skimpy clothing, not just for ease of movement, but to pysche out their opponents. If you aren't lean and fit, you can't wear the skimpiest clothing.

Your theory is far too simplistic and cliched.

ICBINEG Tue 22-Jan-13 21:41:25

worra but what is the plausible alternative? That short skirts really are more attractive? What about the next time they are out of fashion? How will there absolute attractivness have changed?

Binkybix Tue 22-Jan-13 21:43:15

I thnk there's a difference between what fashion says is attractive, and what men see as attractive. They're not always the same. Fashion is not necessarily about being attractive physically. High fashion at least is about being part of an exclusive group.

Physical traits seen to be attractive due to fitness in the Darwinian sense could change in theory because environmental context is important. Eg when large was considered attractive it was hard to achieve so could have been seen as a status symbol, hence a wider clue for fitness. Just a theory.

So as ever, what is seen as attractive is surely an interaction of nature and social conditioning.

Brandy that really wasn't my intention. My friend is extremely intelligent (not that it's relevant) and I don't believe that anyone's intelligence can or should be measured by their clothing or appearance

ICBINEG Tue 22-Jan-13 21:45:56

So one year lime green is "in" and suddenly the vast majority loves the lime green, and would state that they feel more attractive wearing it. Two years down the line no one is wearing lime green and suddenly no one likes the colour.

Lime green is lime green. It can't change it evolutionary hard wired level of attractiveness.

So clearly societal pressure is doing the driving.

If you don't think that is the case then what exactly does cause the colour lime green to change it's level of attractiveness on a 5 year cycle?

thebody Tue 22-Jan-13 21:46:24

Feeling good the fabric of society here in Europe and social influences are a choice and a great reason to have a good debate on mumsnet.

Being stoned to death or having bleach squirted into school girls faces or shooting them in the head as they access education is the fabric of some women's society.

I just can't see how British women dress as worthy of worrying about.

And it makes us divided and that's sad.

WorraLiberty Tue 22-Jan-13 21:46:49

Worra so what's your take on it? Why is the mainstream fashion preference for high heels, tight or revealing clothing? I'm genuinely interested btw, not trying to be snarky

Because fashion comes and goes...and yes fashion is part of societal conditioning.

That does NOT however mean that any woman who chooses to wear a short skirt/high heels has definitely been conditioned by society...some will but equally some won't.

Just the same as my preference of chicken pie over steak and kidney, means nothing other than the fact I like one and not the other.

That's why this argument is a silly one because no-one is 100% right and no-one is 100% wrong.

However, when strangers start to tell other women on an internet chatboard that they know more about them and their choices than they do about themselves...that sort of arrogance makes people defensive.

I don't think enough credit is ever given to women who make their own free choice based on nothing other than their own personal taste.

And so endeth the sermon grin But you did ask!

ICBINEG Tue 22-Jan-13 21:47:23

uhuh. No one is saying it is dumb to follow fashion/bow to the pressure. It is dumb to not acknowledge that fashion or societal pressure exist or are a major factor in what is currently considered attractive.

FlouncingMintyy Tue 22-Jan-13 21:47:53

Bizarre thread. Who on earth has difficulty accepting that external factors influence what is thought to be attractive or even socially acceptable? Surely only a dimwit.

thebody Tue 22-Jan-13 21:48:49

Joyful then don't judge clothes by intelligence.. I don't so why do you?

Nagoo Tue 22-Jan-13 21:50:51

Ooh this went bad fast.

LessMissAbs Tue 22-Jan-13 21:51:52

ICBINEG If you don't think that is the case then what exactly does cause the colour lime green to change it's level of attractiveness on a 5 year cycle?

You're assuming that "attractiveness" has only one meaning - to attract heterosexual males.

And actually its fashion designers that work on cycles, because there are only so many "looks" to recycle. Fashion works by clever product placement, models are female, they don't walk down the catwalk being leered at by men, in fact the fashion industry is heavily dominated by women and non-heterosexual men...

Feelingood Tue 22-Jan-13 21:51:53

Seemingly minty, if that was the case we would all look very different to one another.

You accept someonelse view the minute you buy any item of clothing as someone somewhere has decided that, that is fashion, and they were influenced by something or someone Olympics British heritage re royals in jubilee year.

They alls originals, I will be looking out for them at school gates tomorrow grin

ICBINEG Tue 22-Jan-13 21:52:26

btw it is also dumb to think that the majority of girls would spontaneously choose pink if they were brought up outside of current western societal pressure (you can prove this easily with reference to cultures / times in which pink isn't associated with girls) or that women would gravitate in the majority towards being more caring, studious, loving, and backstabbing bitchy outside of the conditioning we hit our children with....

thebody where have I said that? Can you quote it please?

Thanks Worra. grin You make a good point that not all women will be equally influenced and I agree that my OP was worded a little too simplistically.

It's just a bizarre coincidence that it's heavily promoted and socially rewarded, changes according to time and culture. But we can't discount the possibility that millions of women in a certain time and place hit on exactly the same choices which, by coincidence, are the ones they see all around them as ideal.

Millions of people who don't 'conform' also go out and by the same thing, because its what is available in the shops that cater to the style they prefer.

Millions of people all over the world buy the same cars and go to the same places on holiday and drink the same drinks and eat the same foods, because thats their personal taste. Or is that all down to society influencing people too?

WorraLiberty Tue 22-Jan-13 21:57:28

grin << Adjusts boob tube and bum breezer >>

Feelingood Tue 22-Jan-13 21:57:55

the body but where you live therefore the society in which you live influences the choices available to you, how you look being one of them .

The op is just saying that some people are a bit dum for not acknowledging this, that's its they and they alone that influence their choices and not anything external.

Cortana Tue 22-Jan-13 21:59:12

Slightly confused but have a genuine question.

Right now my hair is long. Assuming this is a result of social conditioning, and I became aware of this and cut my hair very short, am I not then just responding to another form of social conditioning from perhaps a different section of society?

If my hair were short, would anyone be at pains to tell me this was as a result of social conditioning, albeit not from the mainstream?

I agree it is impossible to live life without social conditioning affecting our choices, otherwise I'd be naked most of the time or head to foot in pink knitted ponchos I'd made myself. Society tells me I should wear clothes. But why the critisism and need to emphasise my conditioning when I wear one certain style of clothes?

I'm not stupid, but nor am I wearing my pink knitted poncho. sad

Feelingood I'm not saying that anyone is dumb!

WorraLiberty Tue 22-Jan-13 22:00:22

Cortana just shave it off ffs grin

Worra wtf is a bum breezer?? And someone mentioned peplums upthread - can someone explain that to me too? confused

Cortana Tue 22-Jan-13 22:02:34

I've done that Worra, was fun. Right now I enjoy swishing too much. grin

Nagoo Tue 22-Jan-13 22:03:17

I don't think joyful is being disparaging about anyone.

cortana you would probably choose a nice fashionable haircut, rather than some sort of mullet horror. Even though, historically there have been swathes of people who did choose a mullet horror, due to societal conditioning. It looked good at the time, eh? smile

Binkybix Tue 22-Jan-13 22:03:17

Iceberg - re lime green. That goes to my point about fashion and attractiveness to men being different things.

WorraLiberty Tue 22-Jan-13 22:03:56

A bum breezer is what my Irish mother used to call mini skirts when I used to wear them grin

'Peplums' I have no clue about but I bet you don't get many to the pound...

Nagoo Tue 22-Jan-13 22:04:25

peplum is that frill thing at the hips, it's on a load of dresses and skirts recently.

Cortana Tue 22-Jan-13 22:06:29

No doubt I would Nagoo, but my question was more would anyone then feel the need to point out the reason I hadn't gone for business at the front party at the back was due to fashion? Whenever I do have a haircut I tend to be told "You look nice" not "Well you obviously picked that as it's in fashion".

Joyful, may I ask how you ended up on this subject with your friend (again, unless I'm reading too much into your posts)?

Feelingood Tue 22-Jan-13 22:11:09

Ok puudle misspelt dum is wrong way of putting it re your op.

I think some people are dumb for thinking they do those things and are free of influences.

Bloody hell you could say this about personality to old nature versus nurture debate.

We are products and producers of our own environment ie society norms which in turn shapes us.

Cortana via a long and rambling conversation about steampunk fashion, Edwardian trends and evolutionary psychology! confused

Thanks Nagoo - I haven't seen those but when I do I shall think "Ooh - peplums!". grin

badguider Tue 22-Jan-13 22:15:10

I'm genuinely surprised at how controversial this thread appears to be. I thought that it was genuinley and widely accepted that blonde hair, skirts, high heels, a certain waist to hip ratio etc. were basic indicators of 'fertility' and 'youth' in a sexual way and therefore designed to attract mates.
Not to say that's a bad thing... why not dress to attract and keep a mate? but it is true and why would you try to deny it?

On the other hand, there is a more interesting question when people deliberately dress counter to this. It's as much making a statement as following this. Many of the women I know through my sports club don't 'do' heels or skirts and are usually found in hoodies, jeans and skater shoes - whether we like it or not, we are deliberately subverting cultural norms to make a statement... no matter how much we may claim to 'just be comfortable and practical' smile

Nagoo Tue 22-Jan-13 22:18:54

We chose where we want to sit, in the middle or at the edge or at the back of the bus with the bad girls. We're all on the same bus though.

Cortana Tue 22-Jan-13 22:20:30

Oh I like Steampunk, not clothes but their X-Box mods are beautiful. I wonder who first though the whole concept up, would like to have seen their influences.

An interesting conversation, not worth falling out over though. Perhaps best you vented here first. I can see your point and those made by Worra.

DP does not have a mullet but is currently sporting some rather fetching dungarees, I am hoping he starts a trend for them, there should be more in the shops.

Maybe the answer is to make our own clothes more, then we would not be so limited by the choices in stores?

cuntingrimmer08 Tue 22-Jan-13 22:25:18

Yanbu. Alot of our decisions which we make everyday are based on social constructs .

thebody Tue 22-Jan-13 22:27:33

Nagoo, exactly.

Perhaps it's my age but I have friends ranging from 19 to 68 and it never entered my head to wonder or care how or if they dress, like a nun or a chorus girl ( thanks mom) makeup or not hair dyed or not???

Just don't care or why they do what they do.

I value them as people.

PessaryPam Tue 22-Jan-13 22:36:07

Whereas men are supremely attractive with huge beer guts, hairy ears and piles dangling out their arses. Or maybe not. I know they have more latitude, think Eklestone, but they do not have immunity.

SigmundFraude Tue 22-Jan-13 22:37:04

How many more of these threads? Seriously. I see women tottering around in 6 inch heels and a belt for a skirt and I see women wearing floor length skirts/trousers and baggy jumpers. I see women wearing shit loads of makeup, and I see women wearing none. I see tousled bed hair and I see sleek salon styled perfection.

What is your point? Why do you feel the need to bang on and on about women being socialised to look attractive to men? So what? The human race is built on male/female attraction. And we all decide for ourselves exactly what constitutes attractive, and how much we want to present ourselves that way. You can see that by looking around when you're in Sainsbury's!

What the actual fuck does it have to do with people who don't know me, aren't likely to know me, yet still they feel it necessary to inform me that if I wear heels, makeup etc, I do it to attract men.

I'd rather be socialised than blinkered.

thebody Tue 22-Jan-13 22:45:33

Excellent sigmund.. Well said..

<applauds Sigmund>

Well said.

Sigmund I don't bang on about it, this is the first thread I've started on the subject. And I've had some interesting and informative responses that have made me think.

And I've had your response too. wink

Feelingood Tue 22-Jan-13 22:58:40

Sigmund but are the decisions we make for ourselves influenced or informed in any way? And if so by who?

In all seriousness though, thanks to those who've taken the time to discuss this with me, you've certainly given me food for thought.

Just to reiterate though, because a few people seem to have misunderstood my position - I do not judge people's intelligence by how they dress. I do not look down on people or disapprove of them for dressing a certain way. I am interested in the underlying reasons why so many women believe that looking a certain way is best or attractive and I use/wear/do some of the practices I mentioned in my OP.

Cortana Tue 22-Jan-13 23:13:25

I don't think anyone that knows you would think that Joyful. (know as much as you can know someone on MN)

FWIW, I'd like to think that most of my decisions were my own, but from a feminist POV I am aware that much social conditioning comes from the patriarchy. I am somewhat at peace with this as given we live in a patriarchy it would be surprising if the origins were elsewhere.

On a deep/crude level, yes red lipsticks may make my mouth resemble the female genitals. But my decision to wear lipstick is not based on this, more that I have green eyes and it makes them stand out. The patriarchy may dictate women in lipstick look good, but they can not dictate my eye colour, it's effect and my reasons.

SigmundFraude Tue 22-Jan-13 23:25:54

'I am interested in the underlying reasons why so many women believe that looking a certain way is best or attractive'

Why? Does it matter? Didn't you say that you believed we were socialised?

Feelingood - I'm quite sure the decisions we make for ourselves are influenced and informed, by peers, by friends, by society. I don't spend a great deal of time mulling it over though, I'm very aware that life is short. More often than not I don't wear makeup when I go out. It's not a statement, a smack in the face to 'societal expectations', shaking my fist at 'patriarchy', it's simply that I couldn't be bothered.

I don't understand why a woman dressing to 'attract a man' is of any concern to any other woman unless the man in question is their DH/BF.

SigmundFraude Tue 22-Jan-13 23:28:53

'On a deep/crude level, yes red lipsticks may make my mouth resemble the female genitals'

Try a different colour then, jeez.

I find it interesting Sigmund. Clearly you don't. Vive la différence.

Cortana Tue 22-Jan-13 23:36:57

Well, no Sigmund. I wear that colour because it complements my eyes, if someone on a deeper level (your namesake for instance) thinks that everything comes back to sex and genitals, that's their problem. I won't be dictated to by someone else's agenda.

SigmundFraude Tue 22-Jan-13 23:48:08

I can quite honestly say Cortana, that I would have absolutely no qualms about wearing red lipstick. As my red-lipsticked lips bear absolutely no resemblance to my genitals whatsoever. And yes, I'm female, before you ask!

MakeItALarge Tue 22-Jan-13 23:50:25

I do or wear everything on the original list, in fact I could add a lot more to it. Of course it is in some way conditioned by society, as is the food I eat, the car I drive, the type of wine I drink and the kitchen tiles I chose. We all conform to varying extents, however Im not convinced this is to attract a mate.

My dp doesnt notice whether I wear makeup or not, but my friends can tell when Ive changed my eyeliner.

Its obvious from the vast amount of threads on this topic that we all, to some extent, judge other women for they way they dress and I think its the awareness that we too are being judged that makes us conform to whichever 'look' we personally percieve to be best.

HoHoHoNoYouDont Tue 22-Jan-13 23:53:10

We're all conditioned and expected to conform. Men are expected to be attracted to women and vice versa but if you're attracted to someone of the same sex it is seen as 'different'. Fact is that many more people than you imagine are attracted to the same sex but never admit to it or come out because of pressures within society.

Cortana Tue 22-Jan-13 23:58:50

I have no qualms about it either. My point was that sometimes using products or make up is seen as an attempt to be sexual in some way. Lightening hair, wearing lipstick, wrinkle creams = attempt at youth = attempting to look young and therefore fertile = sexual.

However for me personally, I do not factor in this way of thinking when choosing what I will wear. I am aware this way of thinking exists and choose not to allow it to influence what I wear. Therefore, although I am aware of conditioning I do not believe it has such a huge impact on my life to where lipsticks and skirts are a direct extension of my sexuality.

I was not suggesting your mouth resembled your genitals, it was an example of a Freudian metaphor.

ouryve Wed 23-Jan-13 00:00:12


I like to expose my cleavage, mind. It's a great way of saving snacks for later grin

coldinthesun Wed 23-Jan-13 00:22:09

I find this questions like this a bit of a weird one.

I'm bi-sexual, so the idea of what I find attractive 'in order to attract heterosexual males' is a bit of a strange concept to me in some ways.

Its extremely rare that I'm attracted to anyone on the basis of looks alone, and this was something I struggled with a great deal when I was a teenager. The same was true for both men and women. I don't fancy someone because they wear certain clothes or have a particular shape of body.

I certainly tend to dress for the occasion rather than conform to an 'ideal' as such. Which is fitting in with a community, but not just about it being sexual and about attracting someone - certainly the case with me as my identity is closely tied to music and the fashion from various eras - which might appeal to certain types of guy, but more generally its about projecting part of who I am in a way that enables others to get clues about the type of person I am. And of course everyone dresses for the occasion/setting - you wouldn't turn up in jeans at a formal dance as its just not appropriate.

Equally a lot of women wouldn't wear heels all day, because its not practical and can hurt your feet so I think some of this leads to a mentality that they will never be able to understand why a woman might to do that, unless there is something to be gained from doing so - therefore the assumption that its purely sexual. I think perhaps that might once have been the case but I don't think its as straightforward as that these days and why I'm hesitant to say its about socially imposed 'ideals' of beauty. For me I quite like wearing heels at times, simply because being a short arse, it gives an extra couple of inches which has practical uses at times and helps me to make eye contact better.

I don't often wear make up, as I can't be arsed, its a faff and frankly I'm of the opinion that I just don't need it. But sometimes I just want to do something different.

I dunno, I think its more about 'dress up' for me. You can play at being something that you are not because of the way you dress. You can project quirkiness and confidence with a bright lipstick. It need not be straight out and out sexy.

So saying its just about sex, in my opinion, is just plain wrong. Its about communication and socialisation but theres a lot more to that than just trying to attract a mate.

This is an interesting subject, I have been surprised by the tone of some posters. Those arguing against conditioning or the extentbto which it influences them.

I feel as a society we have never been more conditioned than we are now. Whole industries have been built on our desire to conform and fit in with others. How we shop, dress, eat etc etc. We are influenced in all areas of our life. of course we are, society is just another word for a bunch of guys you know! grin There is no shame in this it is how we relate to each other and non-conformity is just another tribe with its own rules. I spent my teens resolutely wearing docs, no make up, dungarees and the like thinking what a fearless individual I was, walking down the street with my similarly clad mates to a club full of other like minded souls! Just a different tribe with its own rules of attractiveness.

Now I enjoy picking my outfit according to mood and wear make up, moisturize and the like, knowing it is the norm doesn't mean I don't get affected by social norms! We may have free choice but there is no way that every decision an 'individual' makes is not influenced by their, gender, location, parentage, social class, etc etc no one makes completely unfettered decisions.

BegoniaBampot Wed 23-Jan-13 00:43:38

Must be socialised to conform to what others decide is attractive, why else would anyone wear those ugly, ridiculous, crippling feckers of 6 and 7 inch heels.

MidnightMasquerader Wed 23-Jan-13 00:52:02

I wear make-up, I like clothes and fashion, I style my hair and wear heels if I'm going out. I like and choose all of these things, but I don't deny for a second that I have been conditioned by society since birth to 'like' and 'choose' them. Why would I? I really don't get why people get so defensive over this, either.

I think it's fascinating to look at life and society through specific lenses and ask why we do what we do.

Make-up is a good example. I rarely go out without make-up on these days. I'm 39 now and although I scrub up well, I'm also realistic aout the fact that I'm knocking on to 40.

You often see posts from women which take on a self-deprecating tone. Along the lines of always putting on a bit of lipstick, concealer, mascara, whatever - because they 'look like a zombie without it', or they 'don't want to scare small children'.

Obviously they don't really think they look like the living dead without make-up and they don't genuinely think they're going to scare people without make-up on. But they ^do think they look tired, drained, older, haggard, whatever - without it. And instantly feel a boost when they put it on. I know this, because this is exactly why I wear make-up and why I feel better when I've put my full slap on for a night out.

But the point is - my 38YO husband has no such qualms, does he? He doesn't think for a second that he looks tired, haggard, washed-out, older, like a zombie, etc, etc, if he dares step out without concealer and mascara on.

Men look absolutely fine without make-up, don't they? When they get ready for a night out, shave, do their hair, splash on some cologne and then step out with nothing on their face, but moisturiser - they look great.

Why can't we feel that we look great just with moisturiser? God, the time and $$$ it would save...

I tend to think of social conditioning as the 'skinny jeans effect'. When skinny jeans first came in, everyone was dead wary of them. I remember seeing Kate Moss in them first and being a bit shock Then everyone tried them. Then they fully embraced them. And then bootcuts - which had previously been thought to be universally flattering - where deemed 'frumpy' and 'mumsy' and everyone wondered what they'd ever seen in them.

Bit of a coincidence that this happened en mass, at the same time, right across the western part of the globe...

I think social conditioning plays a part, possibly the largest part, in why people dress like that. However it's not the only reason. Aside from anything else, if they are chosen only because of conditioning then who decided to wear them the first time?

It also doesn't take into account other factors like personal preference (just because it coincides with what society likes doesn't mean it is the same) and saying there's no personal preference reads a bit like, "You are socially conditioned, they are socially conditioned, I am wearing what I like".

Or even really basic stuff like whether it appeals to the senses? I know that personally I adore the feel of a lovely tight corset, so much that I used to wear them every day under my work uniform, which was so shapeless that you'd have never known I was corsetted - so not done for the look.

It's not a simple thing by any stretch of the imagination.

"ugly, ridiculous, crippling feckers of 6 and 7 inch heels"

Some people find them comfortable.

Some people find flat shoes hideously uncomfortable.

I like my bootcuts, i have room for me in them. Skin jeans are designed to fit everyone <sulks>

See the way i see it is this. Society and necessity dictates that clothes are needed. Less is summer and more in winter. It's just the practicality of the thing.

Now views on what these clothes are has changed. Initially as society started with clothes they weren't necessarily the most covering. over time this changed. As did our views on bodies and sex. As time has passed the influences on this view has been influenced by weather patterns and religion and the ability to produce stuff that isn't just practical. clothes and accessories that dictate position in society, pretty stuff.

Modern society is driven by commerce. In order for the western markets model to keep working it requires the need for repeat market. So in order to drive this replacement of stuff that isn't essential they have to influence the way we see things. Traditionally this was tradition cuts of clothing that lasted and were replaced as worn out. These days these are cuts that go out of fashion and are style specific. Society says you need to wear these cuts because this is all that is available in the shops.
Eg there was a time when 31inch length trousers were long. then someone changed the leg length to even inch lengths and 32 was considered long. Someone finally saw sense and made longer lengths available in more mainstream shops -up to 35inches. However some fecker has said this isn't profitable enough so they have gone back to long being 31/32inches depending on the shop.

I know that society plays a role in what i wear but the thought that i do stuff simply to attract a partner is laughable. Not every one is driving by the need to find someone to be with.

I don't conform to society's expectation of me wearing a coat, heck half the time you are lucky if i wear a jumper if it is above 10C Society generally tends to think i am crazy for this. We are all subjected to expectations and influences but we do have choice and options.

IMO your view is far far far far too simplistic. Perhaps you might have a point but currently it needs expanding to make it stand up to critical analysis. As for your list? half of those things scream body insecurities to me. But that might just be because the markets need to keep us in a state of always wanting bigger and better and never thinking what we have/are is good enough. Because if it didn't they wouldn't have control and high profits.

Am i cynical on the role of commerce? Hell yes.

*the Op's view is too simplistic

AmandaCooper Wed 23-Jan-13 07:06:18

No Bitchy I think the role of commerce is key to progressing this idea of social pressure driving trends - the manufacturers have learnt to harness our survival instincts to manipulate our purchasing choices and it's a multi, multi million pound business which encompasses not just fashion but all our spending choices.

theodorakisses Wed 23-Jan-13 08:31:02

Well all of you are lucky you have the CHOICE to wear what you bloodywell like. Surely that's all that matters? Sounds to me like op is halfway through an essay and stuck for ideas.

If that is the case Amanda they why can't i get trouser that are fecking long enough any more. I don't have a choice I have to make my own! And Tbh i think all advertising should be banned ALL advertising. But then i chose to avoid as much of the commercial advertising sector as possible. I am happy and don't need to be told there are bigger and better things constantly.

theodora you could be right but you never know some times people are genuinely in the middle of arguments and just don't like to lose but at doing so because of half baked ideas that need challenging.

Adversecamber Wed 23-Jan-13 08:35:18

Midnightmasquerader I really like your post and whilst not wishing to be conditioned by you as your part of society I have been.

theodora it's well over a decade since I needed to write an essay but thanks! grin

Some great posts overnight. Bitchy yes, I conceded last night that I was being too simplistic. It's an area that I find extremely interesting but you're right that it is far more complicated than my OP suggests - I was struggling to frame my thoughts and didn't want to confuse people about what I was referring to! I think I may have failed there. confused

Midnight I love your post.

boredSAHMof4 Wed 23-Jan-13 08:52:50

But fashions change don't they? Sometimes flat-chested twiggy-esque looks are in fashions, sometimes maxi dresses and skirts, sometimes highnecked pie crust collars.How do you explain that?

AmandaCooper Wed 23-Jan-13 09:07:12

Well either your legs are non standard length or the current trend is for trousers that are shorter than you'd like. I'm not sure I get the point you're making?

How could you ban all advertising? It's part of the fabric of human society.

MoodyDidIt Wed 23-Jan-13 09:09:54


v interesting thread

I am tall, simple. Most tall people are finding this can be a problem. Although the accessibility of cloths that fit in length is cyclical. Depends on whether it is deemed profitable or not.

AmandaCooper Wed 23-Jan-13 10:10:24

Well exactly. As a niche market you will be commercially unattractive to most trouser retailers. But there's still plenty to play for - and perhaps you can be encouraged to feel sufficiently despondent about your unusually long legs that you need a lipstick and some shoes to pick you up!

CaptainVonTrapp Wed 23-Jan-13 10:11:16

Ugg boots? Are you telling me that 50% of the female population (my estimate in some younger age groups) are wearing them to attract the opposite sex?

Seems unlikely to me.

So perhaps theres a lot less socialised women than you think? Maybe they're even choosing clothes/shoes that are appropriate to the ocassion?

AmandaCooper Wed 23-Jan-13 13:01:41

Ugg boots are an extremely expensive version of something that has been around for donkeys years at a much less eye watering price. They advertise that the wearer is so wealthy that they can afford to squander resources on luxury items and is therefore a desirable ally or mate.

LaQueen Wed 23-Jan-13 13:35:42

Solid I think there is some evolutionary theory connected to the clear skin, brights eyes etc, too.

But as regards women's bodies - I realise that fashion dictated what was considered good - so in the 1920s the androgynous, skinny, no boobs, no bum flapper look was all the rage. It was very fashionable.

But, I wonder how many men actually found that look physically attractive? Not many I think?

I remember in my student house (with 6 blokes) being surprised that not one of them found Kate Moss et al physically attractive, eventhough they acknowledged her face was very pretty. But her actual body did nothing for them.

LetMeAtTheWine Wed 23-Jan-13 13:39:47

How could you ban all advertising? It's part of the fabric of human society.

I believe that they don't allow advertising in Havana (at least not up to the present day, although this may well change in the future), and as far as I am aware they are a human society...

AmandaCooper Wed 23-Jan-13 13:48:04

If we banned all advertising we would all have to live off a diet of non specific state-issued nutritionally balanced essential foodstuff for a start - even then, recommending products on the basis of scientifically determined nutritional data would need to be made an exception from the ban on advertising. Perhaps we could request products we remember we liked from before the time of the ban and they would be handed over wrapped in brown paper with a warning not to show or tell anyone about them.

LetMeAtTheWine Wed 23-Jan-13 13:54:28

I am not suggesting it is a good idea Amanda, just that a human society does exist, and survive without it...

ppeatfruit Wed 23-Jan-13 13:55:48

The worst and saddest conditioning IMO is the look of a lot of older women in public view who don't want to show that they have wrinkles and crowsfeet etc. so they have hideous face lifts and botox etc. that actually CHANGES their face so they are not themselves any more it's horrible sad angry

AmandaCooper Wed 23-Jan-13 13:56:22

LaQueen high fashion is primarily about advertising your wealth and status though - it's not a direct visual appeal to the opposite sex; by signalling that you are well off and take care of your personal appearance you would hope to attract useful friends, prospective business partners, mates.

ppeatfruit Wed 23-Jan-13 13:56:59

Oh and they ALL have blonde hair!!!! WHY????

cerealqueen Wed 23-Jan-13 14:08:22

There is a view (research I think) that more often than not women often dress to impress other women and not men, and whenever men say what they like women to wear, women ignore it (often with good reason)

Women also if ignore what men say they like about women's bodies and think its about being skinny!

Feminine Wed 23-Jan-13 14:33:41

I think the only reason women wear UGGs with skinnies, is that they make their legs look thinner!

My deep contribution.

ppeatfruit Wed 23-Jan-13 14:48:37

yeah cerealqueen but some women think that men want skinny with a couple of grapefruits stuck on their fronts grin

"ut, I wonder how many men actually found that look physically attractive? Not many I think?"

That'll be why Clara Bow, Louise Brooks etc were ignored by men then? Rather than becoming incredibly well known pin ups whose photos were everywhere?

The "pin up" became a real big deal for the first time in the 20's. And bearing in mind this was a mostly male driven industry, I think we can safely assume that men found the stereotypical flapper body very attractive indeed.

Tbh I suspect men aren't actually all that picky! grin

ppeatfruit Wed 23-Jan-13 16:18:39

murderof YYYY to that grin IMO and E women tend to dress for other women grin

CaptainVonTrapp Wed 23-Jan-13 16:48:16

Good theory on Uggs Amanda. But I don't think men prioritise wealth in their mates as it doesn't confer health or fertility in general

In line with todays misogyny thread I'm going to suggest that many of the things women have worn over the years were designed (by men) to inconvenience us and cramp our style - keep us in our place more than make us attractive. High heels, tight, short skirts, long skirts, corsets. Anything impractical that makes us have to be careful.

Of course Uggs don't fit in with this. Practical and warm. Perhaps things are changing as women have more roles in the fashion industry.

I agree feminine they make legs look skinny which is what women want - but not men and women know that - I think its women dressing for women.

goldiehorn Wed 23-Jan-13 17:06:40

I hate the thought of teenage girls wanting to go under the knife for bigger boobs etc before they even get to adulthood and find that pretty depressing.

However the things mentioned in the OP:
High heels.
Exposed cleavage.
Cinched waists.
Exposed legs (in skirts or tight trousers).
Tight/skimming clothing.
Hairless legs/armpits

Meh, I just cannot get worked up about these things. Apart from the high heels, none of those things harm/do any damage to the woman wearing them. I happen to like the look of all the above things, much more so than a baggy t shirt with hairy armpits sitcking out teamed with jogging bottoms.

I am under no illusion that the reason that I think that these things look nice is because I have been socially conditioned to think so. I know that is the case, of course it is. But so what? I find it fun to put make up on, find a dress that I feel really flatters my figure (and a cinched in waist happens to be what flatters me), or wear an amazing pair of shoes. I like the fact that I have the opportunity and freedom to do this. Whats the problem?

goldie as I've said repeatedly there's nothing wrong with doing or wearing any of those things. I do some myself.

"Apart from the high heels, none of those things harm/do any damage to the woman wearing them. "

Unless the woman was wearing them because she felt she had to rather than wanted to. Unfortunately there are women who feel like this. You may not be one of them. I know I'm not. But we can't ignore them.

MidnightMasquerader Wed 23-Jan-13 18:32:19

Yeah, me too Goldie - I like to do it all too, which is great. For me.

The problem is hat there are vast swathes of people who don't particularly like that style, and to go against it takes quite a lot of guts in this society. It can make life as a child and a teenager very difficult. Or so I undertand.

And yes, I agree with Goths. In the 20s women were baring leg in a way never before seen. The 20s were quite an anomaly, and not just when it came to fashion, but to all sorts of things.

I can safely say that most men would have found the flapper look quite a, um, revelation after the 1910s down-to-the-floor gowns. Those women - well, the ones who carried it off well (i.e. as always, the lucky ones who fit any era's 'norm') were sexy. I think most men probably liked that look quite a lot. wink

MidnightMasquerader Wed 23-Jan-13 18:32:50

X-posted with Goth.

AmandaCooper Wed 23-Jan-13 18:51:53

Women's clothes on the whole do tend to be less practical and more restrictive than men's. When accidents happen, it's often women who get killed and injured because they are not dressed to escape danger. I don't think DH owns any outfits he couldn't easily run in, fight in, swim in.

Hobbitation Wed 23-Jan-13 18:58:48

Basically most heterosexual men are biologically attracted to fertile looking women who appear healthy, not too fat or thin, with visible breasts and hips.

Whatever you do around that is just frills really.

superstarheartbreaker Wed 23-Jan-13 19:40:40

You see I quite like the looks stated above;

High heels...check (on a night out but not to work)
Exposed cleavage....mabe not so much any more but in the past
Cinched, v feminine.
Exposed legs (in skirts or tight trousers) the skinny jeans and dresses. Legs= my best assest.
Tight/skimming clothing....only in the summer or when feeling 'thin'
Lipstick....on nights out; widens my eyes
Hairless legs/armpits....tried growing my hair. Not sexy for me.

I am careful not to combine cleavage with a short skirt and heels though. That is too much for me . But there is nothing wrong with prefering these looks. I alos love big chunky knits and biker boots. Women should be able to dress how they look without being branded imo.

superstarheartbreaker Wed 23-Jan-13 19:47:48

I do dress to attract men; why not but I also dress to impress women and myself. I dress differently at work to how I dress on the school run lets say and different again to a nightclub. I also have various styles; My hippy, maxi dress, holiday boho style, my sleekprofessional image and my girl about town look. I love the goth steam punk look but it is not for me but I admire in others.
One thing I LOVE about being female is dressing up in cool clothes.

"Women's clothes on the whole do tend to be less practical and more restrictive than men's. When accidents happen, it's often women who get killed and injured because they are not dressed to escape danger."

That's definitely an element, maybe not a conscious decision on the designers side, but still a part of it.

I mean, you just have to look at things like foot binding or geisha shoes, you can see how in some situations it is seen as desirable for women to be restricted quite a lot. Both of those types of shoes force the woman to take small, close together, "dainty" steps. They also mean the men are in a position to physically support the women, making the women reliant on the men. While these are real niche items, there are definite parallels between those and your average high heels. It is not easy to take big striding "masculine" steps in them. You are forced to take smaller, "daintier" steps, and there is also more chance that you will need to lean on another person to walk in them. This isn't to say all high heels have this effect. Or that all women find they have that effect on them. But it is the effect more often than not, and it becomes more pronounced the higher the heel.

Though this isn't just about gender. If you look into the past you'll find that even men wore high heels. Though I suspect the reasoning behind that was more to show that they had other people to do hard work for them, so their clothing didn't need to be practical.

And then in some ways high heels, in particular platforms, were practical in their own way. Eg. platforms were worn as a way of keeping full length dresses out of the mud.

Nowadays I suspect high heels are a mix of both of the above. eg. showing you can afford not to be practical, accentuating your femininity/daintiness, sometimes practicality, making men more necessary.

And then of course some people just like the look/feel of them.

AmandaCooper Wed 23-Jan-13 20:45:41

I was with you right up to the last sentence MOG, you have made some really interesting points - but I don't see how you can reconcile that final sentence with everything else you have said - do you really believe it?

Yes, I do.

Because while social conditioning my be a big part of things it isn't the entirety of them.

Personally I love the feel of restrictive clothing, I also find the curves of things like high heels very visually appealing. Curves are incredibly easy on the eye. So, while I am aware there are other influences at play, I am still aware that personal preference does play a part too.

I love your posts MoG, they're really interesting.

<blushes> Thank you, I always worry I'm being rambly and boring

thesnootyfox Wed 23-Jan-13 21:30:35

I don't disagree with the OP because it is right. However I may have been conditioned to wear clothes that are attractive to men but I'm more bothered what women think about me than men. I'm more likely to dress down when I'm with men than I am when I'm with women.

BegoniaBampot Wed 23-Jan-13 21:46:58

I remember the late eighties and early nineties when high heels seemed to go out of fashion. I was just starting to go out and then I found Docks, it was great and fashionable to dress in sensible, comfy shoes. I really don't remember young people wearing high heels. Then a good few years ago they seemed to make a big comeback, I thought folk would think fuck off, I'm not going back to those bad old days of crippling, hobbling shoes just because someone (man probably) has decided they should make a come back. I can't believe women embraced them again, more then embraced them, they seem to be a must and higher and more crippling than ever. I really thought we had woke up to all that.

"I can't believe women embraced them again, more then embraced them, they seem to be a must and higher and more crippling than ever. I really thought we had woke up to all that."

But people do like them. And if they like them why shouldn't they wear them?

In interest of full disclosure I have wanted these since I first saw them, because I reckon they'd feel good and I love the look of them. And I say this knowing all about foot binding etc. They just appeal to me, so I can totally see the appeal in 6 inch stilettos.

It isn't because society has forced me to like them, in fact I suspect the majority of society would think I was nuts for liking them.

AmandaCooper Wed 23-Jan-13 22:02:22

Begonia in my Doc Martin wearing days the fashion was for wearing them without socks, which after a series of blisters and bleeding gave rise to a distinctive patch of scar tissue. Fashion's a funny thing!

AmandaCooper Wed 23-Jan-13 22:03:51

Good lord MOG they look punishing! shock

BegoniaBampot Wed 23-Jan-13 22:05:28

But if people did like them, why did they forsake them when grunge etc came in and fashions changed. Fashions changed big time back to mega high heels and young people are wearing them again. it seems to be more about fashion dictates to me rather than people preferring them. What issues me off that generally it was men dictating and designing fashion but do they wear the fuckers. Didn't Labotin even admit they were uncomfortable but it was worth it to be in fashion.

BegoniaBampot Wed 23-Jan-13 22:07:07

Amanda - I used to wear them with big black opaque tights and a lovely little skirt and jacket with a lace blouse or something. I thought I was so fab.

rollmopses Wed 23-Jan-13 22:08:37

Put all the 'attributes' from the OP together and what do you get? A cheap, vulgar tart.
Probably tres attractive to certain social class, though.
However, I fully agree with OPs sentiments.
This world of ours revolves around sexual attraction, it always has and always will. Continuity of the species. It's programmed.

cerealqueen Wed 23-Jan-13 22:11:39

I worked somewhere once where aspiring women who wanted to get on were taken aside and told to wear higher heels by their female bosses. Wearing flat in the corporate world just wasn't cutting it as you were seen to not be making an effort.

BegoniaBampot Wed 23-Jan-13 22:14:01

Seriously MOG, did a man or woman design those shoes, I'd really be curious to know. Aren't we weird - you love them and I think they are hideous.

"But if people did like them, why did they forsake them when grunge etc came in and fashions changed. "

By that logic then how do we know that people genuinely liked Docs? Maybe they only wore them because they were socially conditioned to?

"Seriously MOG, did a man or woman design those shoes, I'd really be curious to know."

I'm not sure actually, would be interesting to know wouldn't it? They are based on ballet shoes as they look when en pointe. So, based on something that is practical for it's purpose, which also adds an interesting angle to them.

BegoniaBampot Wed 23-Jan-13 22:18:58

Well I did, I happily threw aside the heels and embraced docks and never really went back to heels. I just love comfort, I love being able to break into a run when I want - I'm weird that way. I do wear a smallish heel occasionally when it seems the outfit requires it, but I have to drive there and generally sit down and drive back. Even dance differently.

BegoniaBampot Wed 23-Jan-13 22:25:06

I used to read ballet stories as a kid. They always described en point shoes as being deforming, painful, bloody etc but it was all considered worth it for the art. Any dancers who can confirm or deny this?

"Well I did, I happily threw aside the heels and embraced docks and never really went back to heels. I just love comfort, I love being able to break into a run when I want - I'm weird that way."

I'd happily throw away all flat shoes and only wear heels grin

Neither of us is right or wrong in our preferences, just different. Which makes it hard to say something is only social conditioning, because personal preference still plays it's part.

Had a read up on the fetish shoes, looks like there is an even more extreme version from around 1900 where the heel is longer than the sole so you could never stand in them. Yet to find who was the original inventor of them. I suspect it was a man if it was that far back, as I can't imagine women being in a position to design clothing.

AmandaCooper Wed 23-Jan-13 22:29:09

I would never have thought to wear them at all if I hadn't been buying into the whole grunge rock tribal look - again for social reasons; in my parents' day doc martins were hard wearing school shoes not fashion items.

doyouwantfrieswiththat Wed 23-Jan-13 22:33:09

Our tastes influence who we are accepted/admired by, hopefully we appreciate the same people who appreciate us, for some people these criteria seem quite narrow.

I can accept that,and I've toned down my whackier bag-lady tendencies as I've aged and joined the employment market. I find the idea that 'fashion' is just for the young a bit misogynistic but I know my shape has changed and now it's not so easy to wear what I like and be pleased with the result.

Personal hygiene and attention to grooming is a good sign that I'm feeling mentally well as far as I'm concerned and perhaps that is part of why we are feel easier about people who appear to look after themselves or make some effort.

BegoniaBampot Wed 23-Jan-13 22:33:59

And weren't the folk behind Docks so clever to reinvent them. Like Lucozade, used to only be bought for folk who were ill or in hospital. Or jeans even. Designed to be hard wearing for the working man. Then Levi just tapped into the market. All so fascinating.

AmandaCooper Wed 23-Jan-13 22:34:45

I don't hold with this "personal preference" thing. I just can't accept that the sole occupant of even the most accommodating landscape would have a preference for high heeled shoes in the absence of any other social beings.

FanFuckingTastic Wed 23-Jan-13 22:37:06

Woot, I wear crocs and socks, uggs with everything, trackies and plain t-shirts in colours I like, men's hoodies in purple and sometimes will have purplish hair or just plain old brown with grey streaks. I wear clothes for warmth and comfort. I am disabled, I don't need to make my life more difficult by being uncomfortable in heels or tight clothing.

I like to wear makeup to hide my blemishes because they make me look ill, and I do accentuate my eyes because they are prettier that way, but I only do it when I want to do a bit of man attracting any way, I have needs you know and only a man can fully fulfil them.

Funny how in most species it's the male that does the dressing up and showing off their best bits, and we are the opposite.

I also dress up like fantasy characters, yaknow, elves and rogues and stuff, and play make believe games. I enjoy this too.

FanFuckingTastic Wed 23-Jan-13 22:40:42

And yeah, sometimes my personal hygiene and clothing look more iffy than others, those are they days I haven't been able to get in the shower or keep up with the washing and ironing. Thank goodness for dry shampoo I say, on those days it's dry shampoo, face wipes and baby wipes, then clean underwear and whatever I can find to wear that is like covering my body and not smelly.

People find this unacceptable they could come help me at home?

"I just can't accept that the sole occupant of even the most accommodating landscape would have a preference for high heeled shoes in the absence of any other social beings."

But is that because you can't imagine choosing that way?

AmandaCooper Wed 23-Jan-13 22:58:24

It seems completely illogical. Something has to drive your preferences.

doyouwantfrieswiththat Wed 23-Jan-13 23:02:29

"Something has to drive your preferences."

Physical sensation maybe? Or aesthetics? You'd still have aesthetic preferences even in a social vacuum, and who is to say someone wouldn'tlike the look of high heels?

BegoniaBampot Wed 23-Jan-13 23:23:52

I think it might be mostly just fashion, for the majority that is.

LadyBeagleEyes Wed 23-Jan-13 23:31:31

Ok, maybe it's social conditioning, fair enough.
But i won't accept feminist social conditioning either.
So I'll continue to make the most of my appearance, but believe me it's not for a man, I'm single, divorced and love my life, there's nobody male that can change that.
<Applies mascara>

"I think it might be mostly just fashion, for the majority that is."

I suspect you are right in the majority of cases.

DizzyZebra Thu 24-Jan-13 01:31:27

It just does look nicer. Most people think that. If you don't, thats fine. If someone doesn't want to, that's fine, but dont patronize us by telling us we can't possibly want to dress a certain way.

I want to dress lots of ways, i just don't have the money to fund the sort of things i'd need to pull it off.

And do explain goths and hippies and women who are fat out of choice if we're all so conditioned.

DizzyZebra Thu 24-Jan-13 01:32:28

And explain why i don't wear heels outside... I wear them lots at home. Am i trying to attract the heterosexual fucking sofa? Or the wall?

"And do explain goths"

Goths are actually quite a bad example, they are notoriously conformist (within the scene anyway). While they may not conform to society on the whole, they Goth scene is known for having very low tolerance for anyone who dares dress in a way not considered "Goth enough".

DizzyZebra Thu 24-Jan-13 01:48:04

MOG - I was using goths as an example against the typical sort of 'sexy' female portrayed in the media, Not as an example of a diverse scene.

"I was using goths as an example against the typical sort of 'sexy' female portrayed in the media"

Unfortunately that doesn't work either. The usual goth look is very fetishised vampiness. Very stereotypically sexual.

Hippy is probably a better one to look at.

MidnightMasquerader Thu 24-Jan-13 01:56:16

Wow, Dizzy - you seem mad!

It's weird that I don't feel patronised in the slightest by acknowledging that I am affected by social conditioning. I wonder why others do, and get quite so defensive...

We all know marketing works. We all understand the power of brands. And yet some of us feel that we're better than that and not susceptible to the influences that others are. Do people feel that there is some sort of insult implicit in social conditioning; that there's an inherent slur on their ability to think independently, or something? Maybe they think they might have to change their ways or alter their behaviour if they think there is some truth in the reasons why we do what we do/make the choices we make. Kind of like opening a can of worms. I dunno.

Personally, I am slightly of the opinion that it's really quite, um, arrogant to believe that you (generic you) is above such influences, and that you operate in a vacuum, with a mind and thoughts and brain and personality and opinions impenetrable to outside factors. <runs and ducks for cover> grin

Goths and hippies are influenced by societal sub-sets; they reject the overall norm and find kindred spirits elsewhere. And some bond with and conform to those sub-sets even more strongly, because they're so glad to find like-minded souls after years in the wilderness, never quite fitting in. Women who are fat by choice - well, there's a myriad different reasons for that. And that's another thread entirely.

Besides, it's not a tangible, measurable thing. People are conditioned to a greater or lesser degree. Some acknowldege their conditioning and reject it. Some, like me, acknowledge it and accept it and go along with it. Some refuse to acknowledge it at all (lots of people on this thread). It's not a mathematical equation.

"We all know marketing works. We all understand the power of brands. And yet some of us feel that we're better than that and not susceptible to the influences that others are."

Totally OT, but in my experience the people who talk the most about not being affected by advertising/marketing are often the most susceptible to it. I think it's because they are so determined not to admit to it that they don't examine their thought process to closely. Instead they just keep telling themselves that all the thoughts in their head got there without any external influence, and so can't or won't step back and analyse those thoughts.

I wonder if it's the same with societal conditioning?

Just a note though, it's just as daft the other way when you get people who are aware of the presence of societal conditioning but will refuse to accept that personal choice plays a part too, tellingly personal choice only applies to their own choices.

Both affect our decisions. It's like the nature/nurture debate. It's a bit of both really.

MidnightMasquerader Thu 24-Jan-13 02:09:01

grin Absolutely personal choice comes into it. Which is pretty much why Communism continues to fail.

DizzyZebra Thu 24-Jan-13 02:29:01

Wow, Dizzy - you seem mad!

Well that depends on what definition of the word 'mad; we are using grin

It's weird that I don't feel patronised in the slightest by acknowledging that I am affected by social conditioning. I wonder why others do, and get quite so defensive...

No, I understand marketing, i understand fashion. I don't believe i'm above influence of such things.

What i find offensive is the sort of women (Not saying the OP is but these sorts of things usually lead to it) who cannot accept that some people just do things because they like it for themselves, That any woman dressing a certain way must have a sexual motive. As a PP pointed out, most women dress for other women.

I personally don't like or have any interest in mens fashion. But i'll look at pictures of pretty women all day long.

Obviously, I would be stupid to deny there is no influence. That's what fashion is. If there were no influence we would all still be walking around in rags and skins.

It's also the judgement often involved. 100 years ago we were under the orders of men. These days it's other women. You only have to browse a few threads on here to see that - Why don't women wear make up? Why don't women dress nicely? To the other end - how dare this woman wear a revealing dress? How dare this woman display her body in a magazine? Must be because she's forced to by men. No, Not because they enjoy it at all and want to do it.

Harriet35 Thu 24-Jan-13 02:30:20

I think women are more conditioned by the media than men are when it comes to ideas about female attractiveness.

MidnightMasquerader Thu 24-Jan-13 04:30:00

See, I don't see anyone saying 'how dare women X, Y, Z?'

I just see people asking why we do things and perhaps sometimes feeling a bit exasperated by the status quo...

Different perceptions of the same thing, I guess...

controlaltdelete Thu 24-Jan-13 07:25:26

I only do 1 thing off your list and I never had a problem with attracting the opposite sex either.

AmandaCooper Thu 24-Jan-13 07:34:29

"Physical sensation maybe? Or aesthetics? You'd still have aesthetic preferences even in a social vacuum, and who is to say someone wouldn't like the look of high heels?"

You would almost certainly still crave aesthetic expression, as your life would be incredibly empty and unnatural. Is it plausible that wearing heels might be part of that? It seems counterintuitive to me - surely in the total absence of other humans you'd seek to change the aesthetics you were looking at rather than your own appearance?

Perhaps you might wear heels sometimes for the novelty factor. Certainly if you came across a pair you'd never seen before you would try them on for the mental stimulation of doing something different. But that's not the same as making a footwear choice really.

Of course it might be a fetish - but I honestly don't know enough about fetishes to understand whether one might develop in such circumstances.

Montybojangles Thu 24-Jan-13 07:41:38

Meh, and why do men wear the clothes they do, have the hair cuts/beard styles changes they do, wear aftershave etc?

Humans are still animals with a basic drive to attract a mate and procreate. Man or woman we all do it to some degree. Each of the things you mention enhance a feature that is attractive to the opposite sex and is acceptable in our society. I have fantastic tits but doubt I could get away with walking down the high street without a top on (western society), other places in the world it would be perfectly acceptable, so instead I just flash my cleavage.

I don't quite understand the reason for your post. So your friend dresses the way she does because it makes her feel good, don't we all? generally we don't really dress too far outside our society's "rules" while wanting to feel good within ourselves.

I only think its an issue if you dress to please others not yourself (exh-"wear shorter skirts/high heels blah blah", me-"fuck off"). I can, and do still look damn hot when I want to in the clothes/makeup I like. And enjoy doing it, fully aware I am dressing to catch men's eyes.

I find it rather tragic when young women think its the most important thing, and feel that dressing like barbie (or a TOWIE extra) is the way to get a man and security, rather than wanting to challenge themselves and do something constructive with their lives and contribute to the wider society, but that's a different matter entirely IMO.

Mesopatamians and ancient Egyptians wore lippy, I'm guessing marketing wasn't too hot then, purely cultural, so society driven, as we all are to a large degree (whether you like it or not).

BegoniaBampot Thu 24-Jan-13 08:44:17

Maybe social conditioning is highlighted better with how we shave or remove our body hair. Hate that we are pressurised to conform in that way but I still do it if my legs, arm pits, bikini line are going to be on display. So though I recognise it's social conditioning and adhere to it sometimes, it still frustrates the hell out of me that people feel pressurised to conform.

AmandaCooper Thu 24-Jan-13 09:26:42

Oh crikey don't go opening that can of worms again!

TheRatsTheRats Thu 24-Jan-13 09:32:54

I'm sorry but I just don't think some of these things (mainly the clothes ones) are attractive and at 22 I am not sure that is the message we are getting. Women who wear tight clothes are often mocked and have their morals questioned.

The cinched waist to me is wanting to look healthy, and feel it, and know that I am taking care of my body and working at it. It's the only body I have got. The rest of the things though - absolutely.

BUT why do we need to tell ourselves this is just poor women and how women are treated? Look at ourselves on MN. Was there not a thread about beards just the other week? It is totally natural for a man to have a beard and yet the VAST majority of us hate it and find it unsexy. That is the same thing.

fromparistoberlin Thu 24-Jan-13 09:34:01

well, yes and no

there is NOTHING wrong with wanting to look nice, nothing. I have alot of respect for people that are well presented

the items you mention can look slutty as fuck, or extremely elegant

I am sure you have a point here, but....... confused

TheRatsTheRats Thu 24-Jan-13 09:37:45

As a PP pointed out, most women dress for other women.

Bingo. That IS the whole fashion industry. Men just don't get it so it's not for them grin

"It seems counterintuitive to me"

That is however going to be clouded by your own preferences.

"surely in the total absence of other humans you'd seek to change the aesthetics you were looking at rather than your own appearance?"

It sounds logical, but doesn't necessarily mean all people would react that way.

Pigsmummy Thu 24-Jan-13 11:02:31

I look far better in a pencil skirt than trousers or jeans, add a pair of courts and great. It's true, nothing to with conditioning/advertising etc I am slightly insulted at the suggestion that women don't know what looks good or not and that it is all somehow a male conspiracy. Give us some credit

AmandaCooper Thu 24-Jan-13 13:14:51

MOG we can but speculate! smile

Latara Thu 24-Jan-13 14:25:17

I am on my own today, not leaving the house to meet other people until this evening.

But i'm still wearing make-up.

Why is that; i'm not sure!

AmandaCooper Thu 24-Jan-13 16:33:24

If you are conditioned to feel better with makeup on, then I guess you will feel better with makeup on regardless of where you are and who you are with. This doesn't mean you will always wear it, but it would explain wearing it around the house.

BegoniaBampot Thu 24-Jan-13 18:59:27

My mum put makeup on every morning no matter what, even if she was just staying in all day. And every day I'd ask her where she was off to, you'd think I'd click eventually. When she became terminally ill, everyone knew it was close when she stopped putting her make up on, was the first thing everyone mentioned. She must shake her head at me, I'm the opposite and much more a casual slob, only wear make up the odd evening out if then.

Have BBC been reading this thread ideas for articles??

woozlebear Fri 25-Jan-13 11:31:54

"We all know marketing works. We all understand the power of brands. And yet some of us feel that we're better than that and not susceptible to the influences that others are."

I kind of fall into the category you're talking about, except I don't think I'm not susceptible, rather I'm hyper aware of how susceptible I am, which I why I make a very conscious effort not to read certain types of magazine and to watch very little tv. My personality naturally veers towards the non-conformist, although this in itself is something I've fought against at times - I've often wished I could feel happier being a tad more normal, and I've tried to, and failed. Over the years I've realised that I'm at my happiest not being exposed to this marketing. I genuinely think I look my best wearing whatever, no make up and looking fairly musssed up doing something I enjoy. In that sense I am not influences by the same things as most people I know, but only because I've made a conscious effort to encourage my innate thoughts and feelings and avoid these influences.

Interesting info about high heels

"The high heel was worn for centuries throughout the near east as a form of riding footwear," says Elizabeth Semmelhack of the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto.

Good horsemanship was essential to the fighting styles of the Persia - the historical name for modern-day Iran.

"When the soldier stood up in his stirrups, the heel helped him to secure his stance so that he could shoot his bow and arrow more effectively,"

"Although Europeans were first attracted to heels because the Persian connection gave them a macho air, a craze in women's fashion for adopting elements of men's dress meant their use soon spread to women and children."

"In the 1630s you had women cutting their hair, adding epaulettes to their outfits," says Semmelhack.

"They would smoke pipes, they would wear hats that were very masculine. And this is why women adopted the heel - it was in an effort to masculinise their outfits."

Interesting that high heels were originally seen as masculine!

doyouwantfrieswiththat Fri 25-Jan-13 14:03:38

Some men still rely on a cuban heel now and again.

but can he ride a horse

MidnightMasquerader Fri 25-Jan-13 19:40:13

MoG - your link didn't work...?

Haha, that'd be because i tried to link you to the word "for", which is helpful of me hmm

The actual link

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