Granted, some complaints cited men ignoring them in bars but a bar is a total pickup joint. I'm not surprised a woman wouldn't feel appreciated for her intellect, wit or compassion there.
|Even Jessica Simpson's on board, see?|
|Another of Jessica Simpson just for contrast.|
(See how different it looks to be dressed sexy vs. baggy?)
Once, though, a friend of my partner, a gorgeous, petite girl who always dressed sexy took me aside and suggested I dress more provocatively for my mate. She said he would appreciate it. She seemed to indicate he had expressed this wish to her but I didn't really want to dress sexy and so I did not.
I have this memory from standing on the cusp of being wonderfully un-selfconscious to suddenly self-aware.
When I hit adolescence, I was an ugly duckling. I was tomboyish and climbed trees and played soccer and ran through the woods with my dog. I was kindof a loner. I had a few friends but not many. I wasn't popular but this was okay, I liked being alone. I certainly didn't get the attention of any boys and was used to being invisible. It was nice.
My family moved near the beach after our house sold and I began zipping up and down the shoreline on my bike. I rode for hours, it was the only thing I wanted to do. I didn't care what the weather was. I didn't have special gear or clothing so if it was hot, I just wore something light.
Well one day it was like 100 degrees out so I threw on a pair of shorts and had this tiny hand-me-down tank top with spaghetti straps. It was loose and so the wind could get underneath and cool me, I thought.
I threw it on without a bra since I was only 14 and barely had a chest. I certainly didn't need the support. I hated bras anyway, they signified being a woman and I rejected the expectation that I should start wearing makeup and be girly, and I especially hated the restriction in movement.
In retrospect, this top was like a piece of lingerie but I didn't realize it at the time and so threw it on and went for a long bike ride.
I stopped by my dad's shop to say hello -- it was on my route -- and he greeted me happily. We chatted a bit and then he said "um, it's so nice to see you but next time you stop by, maybe wear something that covers a little more? I don't like the way I see the guys here looking at you."
This took me by surprise.
I was indignant at first. I can't wear something that will keep me cool because some dudes will notice me? What a pain in the ass. I didn't want to be looked at. I wanted to glide through life invisibly, it felt safe not to be noticed.
In a recent discussion about workplace gawking, I realized it's not always men that do the noticing -- most of the time when someone has made me uncomfortable about my body at work, it was a woman.
Women spend a huge amount of time sizing each other up and they're not always discrete about it.
I mean, it is socially acceptable for women to notice and say things about each other's looks. Sexual harassment training at work targets mostly men but not so much awareness for female peers. Still, it's not usually a big deal. Between friends, it can even be sweetly supportive but with strangers or acquaintances, this kind of attention can feel uncomfortable.
Maybe we are like this with each other because of a biological sense of comparison. I mean, how else to explain the draw of a $3,000 purse? No dude ever asked a girl out because of her handbag.
|The purse is what's captivating here, obviously.|
But I don't want to compete.
If I'm thinner than my companions, I want to apologize and if I'm fatter, I feel self-conscious. (And I have seen this from both sides: being thinner AND carrying extra weight.) Either way, our bodies always seem up for comment.
Oddly enough, my self-consciousness can manifest in a sense of judgment too, which I am not proud to admit. Ten times a day, I may think "I wish I were that thin" or "at least I'm not like that," which is kindof a shitty projection to carry around, and paradoxically, probably the exact voice that compels the very noticing that drove this self-conscious post in the first place.
I wonder if men feel like this too, very aware of whether or not they fit in.
Maybe it's a societal thing and none of us can escape being noticed.