I'm reading Lucy Moore's Anything Goes about the Roaring '20's in America. In those days, women began to shed the homemaker role, and exalted in their independence. (opens in new tab)They "roared" along with the decade, and they did this partially through celebrating their beauty.
In the 20's, starlets were hitting the silver screen with attitude, and flappers danced and drank with the best of them. Women began wearing makeup extensively, to capture the glamour they saw on the silver screen. In fact, Max Factor coined the term "make-up" for his product in 1920 (opens in new tab), and Chanel No. 5 debuted in 1921.
Women found a bold voice, while accentuating and basking in their beauty.And this contributed to their newfound independence. (opens in new tab)
But after a discussion with some friends in my office, I'm wondering if beauty has become detrimental. Has it gone from empowerment to pressure?
In my office, we were discussing girls' obsession with bags. I don't just mean regular bags that you grab and pack up for an errand. No, these girls were talking about hundred/thousand dollar bags.
My ongoing "figuring out girls" project is going about as well as my quest to figure out what was here before the Big Bang, but I decided to get to the bottom of this "bag" thing.
One girl explained:
"Well, you wear different bags with different outfits."
"Wear?" I thought. Last I checked, you carry a bag-you don't wear it.
Another girl said:
"There's tremendous social pressure for us to look beautiful so this is just part of it."
Still one more girl added her thoughts:
"It's sort of an aspiration-a status thing."
The bag purchase must have to do with how it makes the purchaser feel and with perception from other women. First of all, men don't notice a nice bag, and I don't think women expect us to notice. It's not like we highlight it when we meet an attractive girl:
"Wow, she was funny, intelligent, (opens in new tab) cute,and you should have seen the Fendi python bag she was wearing!" (opens in new tab)
So what makes the female love of bags unique to them? Not aspiration.
Men have their aspirations represented by purchases: watches, cars, etc. And we have silly expensive vices; for me it's guitars.
The differentiator is what my one friend said: Women feel pressure to look beautiful. And this pressure comes from men and other women.
The women in my office said women judge other women, using bags and shoes as benchmarks, (opens in new tab) so they care what other women think of their looks.
Men dress for different reasons.
I select clothes for attitude and confidence to an extent (opens in new tab), but mostly to get positive attention from females.If dressing in a Barney's suit ensured luck with the ladies (opens in new tab), I'd go out every weekend in a Barney's suit. I dress for women-I don't care what my buddies think, unless I'm trying to entertain them.
I want to look good, but I feel like my personality might help get around looking bad in the end. (opens in new tab) As an average looking person, I need to rely on my personality. It's the opposite for beautiful people who don't have to develop personality as much or don't get to showcase personality because people are distracted by their beauty, or so I'd assume. (I could be wrong.)
Women are pressured to look great above all else to get a guy's attention, (opens in new tab) because men are shallow.
One other thing-it seems women sometimes judge one another, and this bag/fashion thing seems like an arms race between two world superpowers. Women are feeling the pressure from both genders.
It's sad that this pressure exists, especially if it shows women they have a better chance at success in love and career if they simply look good. I hear guys say it all the time, about attractive women.
Take Erin Andrews, the ESPN sports personality (opens in new tab), for example. I'll hear guys say: "I wonder how she got that job." But if you look at her background, she graduated with a degree in telecommunications, has a decade of on-air experience, and she knows sports. If you actually listen to her, she also has a confident, quality on-air voice. Sure she's beautiful-but she is also talented.
Maybe I'm looking too deep in to this: Perhaps some women simply like bags like some of us guys like gadgets/electronics.
I'm afraid that sociology and biology dictate this beauty pressure-that's a tough cycle to break. It's a shame that "beauty" has turned from empowerment and independence to pressure. It should have evolved, but it went backwards in a way.
What are your thoughts? Do you feel pressure to look beautiful? Do you accessorize and buy beauty products because you love them, or because you feel pressure to look beautiful-or both?
Follow me on Twitter: twitter.com/richaravens (opens in new tab)
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