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but I am saying that sexual signifier are a core driver
I'm not disputing that point.
However, it seems to me that the point of showcasing sexual signifiers through clothing is (usually) only secondarily to be attractive to men - it's sheer overkill for us simple male souls - and primarily to assert/maintain status with other women. Haute couture is the extreme form of this clothing arms race (as are, presumably, stupid hats at Ascot), but even on the H&M level, there is far more going on in women's fashions than most men are capable of recognizing.
The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
Most of it looks like overpriced shit on hangers to me
Now seriously, it would seem safe to assume you don't feel inadequate for not keeping up with that kind of fashion?
Why, then do you say upthread you sometimes feel inadequate for not wearing make-up? What is the difference between fashion and make-up? And, given the bewindering variety of make-up, both in intensity and in style, does your reaction depend to the average amount and style of makeup around you?
En un viejo país ineficiente,
algo así como España entre dos guerras
civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda
y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
I can be smart when I need to be and look professional when it is required and I accept that as something I should comply with when I work. Sometimes I like knowing that I look smart. When I feel like it I'll dress up for a night out.
Most of the time I prefer to be warm and comfortable and that rules out most fashion fads for me. I'm not going to wear something that I'm uncomfortable in and look stupid in. I know I am not going to find much to identify with on any level with others who are serious about wearing silly shit, mostly.
But make up is slightly different. Some make up goes with the associated fashions and I couldn't care less for that. But some make up when subtlely done is meant to make women look prettier or more feminine and smarter. I'm not pretty or photogenic or especially elegant and the fact that I don't wear make up seems to compound that and make me feel like I am not feminine enough to meet other people's standards. Fortunately I have plenty of good friends who like me just the way I am so I am not (usually) subject to any pressure from them, it is just that broader feeling of being judged on how I look that I find hard to come to terms with.
My dislike of make up actually stems from a childhood phobia and even if I felt brave enough to put make up on I wouldn't know how to and nor would I be comfortable with it.
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