As a woman of a certain age I lose count of the number of debates I have listened to and sometimes participated in about stockings, cinched waists, and the associated betrayal of the sisterhood. Apparently there are some people who believe that a woman is to be pitied if she feels compelled to apply mascara and eyeliner of a morning … because in doing so she is enslaved to the evil desires of men, no more than the cherry on the top of a cheap tart.
It should come as no surprise that the exponents of this doctrine in my experience tend to be other women, of the barefaced variety. Rarely have I heard a man decry a female’s accoutrements and decorations in favour of a sexless option; sadly it seems it is only women who tend to have a problem with other women. Twas ever thus.
In my hedonistic days working in central London I was surrounded by females who sneered at the sight of a pencil skirt and who would become positively apoplectic if they thought you might have been wearing a push-up bra …What sane woman would possibly want to dress like that? So much more acceptable to join the clan who drowned themselves in shapeless, colourless garb in an attempt to look like a man and, in many cases, succeeding. Of course, if you wore clothing that accentuated your female form, you had to be sleeping your way to the top …
Now it would be positively churlish of me to suggest that our gender should all be donning a boned corset and six-inch stilettos on a daily basis, but what is wrong with wanting to look like a woman? I can say hand on heart that I don’t apply make-up for a man’s benefit, I wear it for me. I work at home on my own most days, so when I start talking to myself in the mirror in attempt to break the solitude, it’s nice to see a half-decent face looking back (sadly, I have done that …) There is no escaping the fact that I feel uncomfortable in leggings and a T-shirt, yet I’m ready to take make short shrift of any charlatan that crosses me when I’ve got my lipstick and heels on.
I see no good reason why we need to turn ourselves into androgynous beings who wear brogues and pretend we like football to succeed in our chosen professions, although an understanding of the offside rule does tend to impress when you nonchalantly drop it into a conversation over a business lunch. Without a doubt, this touchline extends way beyond hemlines and hairspray.
There is of course, always someone who cries “foul” when they push their femininity to the point that it has perceived to have overtaken their ability. Caroline Flint made comment in her resignation letter to Gordon Brown that he saw her as little more than window dressing. All I might add on the subject is that if you type “Caroline Flint” into Google and hit “images”, you could see why GB might be forgiven if he occasionally looked at her …. in the way a man might look at a woman. If you wear black leather boots and a thigh-high split in your pencil skirt, you have to expect that a man will try and look up it whilst he pretends to listen to what you have to say. Similarly, appearing in glossy magazines in slinky red satin numbers does tend to deflect from any other agenda you might have that is drab in comparison.
The moral to my story is this: ladies, let us by all means adorn, decorate and celebrate our womanly forms publicly and without shame, but let us ensure our heads drive our curvaceous vehicles, not the other way round.