At some point, a child gets lost in what they are told to believe and what they find they actually believe. This goes for nearly everything, and taste is certainly included. Magazines will have you believe all sorts of nonsense, and television will do the same. While the family is always the primary socializing element, it is one's peers who often provide constant influence on people. We are taught some things that are extensively harmful and socially destructive by those we like the most.
Women are taught that natural hair color is something that should never be allowed. A beautiful woman with silver (either in abundance or in strands) is often subtly or overtly harassed by her peers, coworkers, family, and friends. The perpetual obsession with blonding has bloated into a multi-billion dollar industry of insecurity. The artificial tanning industry will tell you that the best place to locate a tanning "salon" is in a college town. Horrifying. Men are of course taught that only sissies and fairies wear pink shirts and that wearing an undershirt with writing on it is acceptable for dinner in someone's house. Further, men and women are taught all sorts of wretched ways in which they should interact. I have always felt that magazines purporting to assist women in their confidence, style, etc., do the exact opposite. If you are the narrow demographic who reads this horsecrap that I write often, you may suspect that I feel that your society has failed you. I spent the last several weeks asking around to like-minded men friends of mine... some single, some married, some involved, but all who have some good advice on this subject.
In an un-sciency survey, I compiled the anecdotes into my standard unsolicited and pompous advice for the normal and well/semi-adjusted women:
1. Don't color your hair.
Are you over 30? Deal with it. Once you start coloring, you can never stop, and life goes on. Silver, natural brown, red, blond, black... whatever it is, do it proudly. You will still be attractive. Also, stay away from trendy "hairstyles". A woman attending her son's college graduation should not have coal-black hair or some unnatural freaky two-tone that nature did not bestow upon her. All agree that it looks terrible when men do it, but it also looks dumb for women... it's just that nobody is saying it.
2. Don't let your boyfriend/husband/partner/date dress two tiers below you when you go out.
I always get embarrassed when I see "date night" between couples... the woman is well put-together but her date is dressed like he's the teen-aged son being dragged along for the ride. Tell him to shave, put on a jacket if you're going to a reputable restaurant (or at least long pants and a proper shirt), no jeans, and for God's sake, no running shoes. "Welcome to Artico... Sir, may I take your fleece and ball-cap?"
3. If you can't walk or dance easily in certain heels, don't wear them.
You may be up for a lengthy evening of dinner, drinks, and dancing, but if your feet are not, the whole effort is wasted. A modest heel is still perfectly elegant, and you won't look like a new-born giraffe trying to walk.
4. Drink well, and hold your liquor.
Don't drink anything that doesn't taste like alcohol (fruit-juice based nonsense) because it will get you into trouble. Granted, "trouble" as I use it here can mean anything from telling great-aunt Agnes that she "smells old" to being lifted down the stairs by the event staff because the clams casino you ate earlier made an unwelcomed re-appearance into the fountain at the MFA. Most grown men these days drink like girls, so develop your taste for liquor. You will be Queen Bee of the gala or party when you ask for "Oban 14 with a little ice". The mama's boys and childish society bachelors will simply leave you alone.
5. Dress like an adult.
What sort of man do you want to attract anyway? Worse yet, why are you dressing like your children? Or like you are still 13? The time to wear little or nothing will present itself easily enough, so in the vertical mean time, elegant and sexy can exist simultaneously. Work-out/yoga clothing is fine if you are at that moment engaged in working out/yoga. If you have been painting or gardening, it is fine to go to the store with your painting or gardening clothing on, but shuffling around town in sandals and sweatpants is too overplayed at this point.
6. Apply only a reasonable amount of make-up.
You want to be recognizable in the morning. Occasionally, certain events call for more, which is perfectly acceptable, but on a day-to-day level, keep it within reason if worn at all.
|Candice Bergen: Still has it.|
7. Stay away from surgical or pseudo-surgical modifications.
Everybody is pierced like a voodoo doll it seems, and plastic surgery is now a lunch-hour procedure. Elective vanity surgeries won't cure your self-esteem issues. If you want to throw money at body modifications to feel better about yourself, do something actually worth while and provide orthodontia or reconstructive surgery for less-fortunate children anonymously.
|No Gray area: From once partially lovable to irrelevant|
8. Do not pass on your weird hang-ups to children.
Don't let your daughter bleach or highlight her hair until she's old enough to vote. That gives you 18 years to teach her to be confident and to feel attractive with her natural beauty. If you have a boy, don't treat things like nudity as if they are family or social sins.
Natural and honest beauty is not as rare as people think, but it's often hidden deeply under external peer-pressure (especially among adults). The sexiest characteristic a woman can have is confidence. Blog after blog talks about "GTH" pants (one of my least favorite acronyms... few phrases are more gratifying to spell out than GO TO HELL, so stop abbreviating it). Where I'm from, they're just called pants anyway. That aside, why not apply the same doctrine to everything else?