I’m not one to read or care about what goes on in the high society press, although I do have a guilty pleasure — Ann Gerber at Skyline News happens to have a Lincoln Park, Chicago-oriented blog that is a very interesting read. While she speaks of the social scene in her neighborhood, she does so in a way that isn’t typical paparazzi fluff. It’s almost an insider scoop for insiders; she dances around specifics with a wonderful gamut of language that probably doesn’t matter to 99% of the world, or even 99% of Chicagoans. She names names, sometimes; she refuses to link to other sites — if you don’t know what she’s talking about, I would guess she likes it that way, as do her readers.
No different than the corporate water dispenser after an episode of Seinfeld in the 90s, just more locally focused, Gerber’s latest article contains its usual praise and questions, but introduces a new jeremiad about something that even blind-to-society-Dada has noticed: the “inappropriate” cocktail dress that some women in town are wearing severely.
“IF YOU GOT ‘EM, FLAUNT ‘EM is the cry of some of our town’s beauties who show up at charity luncheons wearing low-cut strapless fashions revealing their real or amazingly well-augmented bosoms,” writes Gerber. “EYEBROWS ARE RAISED AS THIS NEW TREND is seen even at breakfast meetings. And the wearers are not choosing these sexy dresses because they are meeting men later in the day. No, most are moms with a calendar of civic or social appointments.”
I’m a straight man in a city with fewer and fewer men who mean no offense at capturing the entirety of a woman dressed-to-please the eyes of those around her. If I see a beautiful woman, I look. Not in a creepy way, but it’s my eyes and no one owns the rays of light reflecting off of their bodies, so I’ll take in what’s being presented. I’m not surprised by Gerber’s ponderings — these women are everywhere, dressed in really short hemmed cocktail dresses, with their tops well below their collarbone. I definitely appreciate it.
But Gerber goes on: “DO WE REALLY CARE if some females are showing off their considerable charms even when men are not present? No, but advertising their wares is what they are doing. Advertising and letting other females know they are flaunting their assets.” A little later she finishes her inquisition by asking “NO, WE ARE NOT JEALOUS, or are we?”
A-HA! An honest woman — and an attractive one, at that. Oh, yes she’s a bit older in years, but she carries herself well and she’s a fire pistol — we could use more of her and less of the “poor little me” types who leave me silently laughing — I remember those gals all too well in high school, and, oh, how the tables have turned. That last blast from Gerber is perfect: she’s pointing the finger at exactly that woman, the poor little me type.
It’s not guys who are complaining about the supposedly inappropriate dress. The women wearing those outfits are certainly not wearing them to attract men, or at least external validation doesn’t come from guys like me taking a look and sending off a coy invitational smile. Women are competitive creatures, which is why playing one against the other is such a ritual of the confident man; the ladies who have it are going to show it off, and they’re not going to do it for the guys in their lives.
Surely a woman will smile inside (and probably outside) when her drastic high hem line draws the attention of the married man, but it’s not his attention she seeks: she’d rather just pull his attention from his less-than-oogleable wife that he’s walking with, her hand taking the lead in the relationship like a pet owner dragging a puppy behind him. She knows who is in charge in that relationship, and when the dearest spouse catches her man taking a gander, the battle is declared: not by two boxers in opposite ends of the ring, but between the strongest boxer and the camera aiming at her.
The line’s been drawn: there are fewer and fewer sexy and fine figured people in today’s Western culture. Stuffing our faces with discount donuts at 3pm set the path to prevent most people from looking their best; men have their pleats, women have their “appropriate” attire. Yet guys have the Men’s Health magazine with their ab-loaded model on the cover, and women have the ladies of Mad Men, right? Now both groups also have the finely dressed (fine meaning minimally as well as beautifully) ladies romping around breakfast functions in the equivalent of high fat cottage cheese at a yoga conference: others are aghast at it, but they all secretly want to dive in.
They can’t, and to answer Gerber’s final catechism: yes, “you” are jealous.