Thursday, 25 February 2010

Men See the Point But Not the Process

Men claim they don't see the point in women's obsession with looking nice. Why do they take so long to get ready, they cry? Why all the agonising over what shoes to wear? What's with all the faff and fuss? What they actually mean, but don't know it, is that they very much get the point but don't understand the process. Being one of the world's leading statisticians* I can reliably inform you that if you are an average man, women with an penchant for looking nice will have made up a good 99-100% of all the women you've ever fancied.

The misunderstanding comes from what consitutes a woman who's made an effort. Men often believe that effort=Jordan=a bad thing. The natural beauty is more prized - if only for the fact she spends less time in the bathroom getting ready. But who is this rarest of rare creatures? (I'll give you a clue. Not me.)

The same men who moan that women are wasting their time worrying about their appearance will turn their heads, as one harmonious being, towards the woman who clearly knows her sartorial stuff. And a thing or two about avoiding Mars bars and her way around the Estée Lauder counter. It's just that if she's got it right, she won't look to men as if this is the case. We women, on the other hand, can see it a mile off and that's because we understand the process behind such an undisputedly fine achievement. It's not really devalued because men can't see it, but it is nevertheless a little bit sad.

I once went out with a guy, years ago, who upon seeing Isabella Rossellini's face showcasing Lancome's wares commented that she was a natural beauty, that she looked great even though she wasn't even wearing any make-up. On an ad for make-up. Not the cleverest thing to say and I grant you that he may not have represented every man there. But I would argue that it would only have been the presence of the make-up counter that would have given the game away for a lot of men.

I will concede that you can go too far. You've got to know how to get it all into perspective and the self-mutilation that is plastic surgery or even the tears and tantrums that follow having 'nothing to wear' are ridiculous. Being a rational and intelligent woman, this is something I see plainly for what it is and have it totally under control - as I readjust my mascara and steady the sobs of depair.

But there is nothing wrong or in fact trivial about looking as nice as possible. No, it shouldn't be your entire raison d'etre and no, it shouldn't be a cause of anguish. But beauty, or in fact being quite pretty, is still a highly valued thing in our society and this is surely as true in the opinions of men as it is in women.

I doubt most women would welcome a man backstage before the performance (which incidentally is an allegory, not a euphemism) but at least understand that we're not just turning up and winging it.

*A sadly much disputed fact.

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