I love wearing high heels. Not so much when I am out and about shopping, for example, or walking home, but when I am in the office or the rare occasion I am going out, I like to put on a high, preferably strappy, heel. I love the way heels give me confidence and I love how much taller I am in them (I am a shorty without heels). My manager, who prefers practical, low heeled shoes, once commented on my choice of footwear.
‘I would never wear heels like that in the office,’ she said. ‘There is just no one at work I feel the need to impress.’
Well, excuse me or a moment. I don’t feel the need to impress anyone with my high heels. [Except when I wear them during sex, that is fully for the benefit of hubby.] I wear my high heels for me. For the way they make me feel.
My manager is sadly not alone in her assumption that the way I dress, the type of shoes I wear and even whether or not I wear make up, is to impress someone. And by ‘someone’ I mean men. Every so often you see an article float by with headlines such as, ‘Study shows that men prefer women without make up,’ or ‘Men prefer women who dress demurely,’ or ‘Why men love a woman with long hair.’ The examples are countless, I am sure you have seen them as well, or have heard similar statements.
These types of statements are ridiculous. If I suddenly start wearing lipstick to work (which I have) it’s because I have found an amazing red lipstick that goes very well with my blue hair. It is not because I have found a man in the office I want to impress. What women do and don’t do with their bodies, their hair, their clothing, has absolutely nothing to do with men.
When I first wrote this article (before it got swallowed up by the internet), I received comments from men who agreed with me. ‘You should wear what makes you feel confident,’ they said. ‘Confidence is sexy.’ I know they meant well. I know they agreed with me. But they missed the point. Whether or not what I do is sexy doesn’t matter. I should be able to exist as an individual, not in relation to how men view me.
Is this some myth that men keep telling each other? Do they think that women get up in the morning, look in the mirror and say to themselves, ‘What will men like me to wear today? Will men like my hair up or down today? Will men think I am sexy?’ Sure, in some settings, some women will base their appearance on how men perceive them. But the majority of us dress the way we do because we feel like it. Because of how it makes us feel.
I have a number of hella unflattering outfits. I mean, they are plain ugly. I look fat in them and the colours don’t suit me. But sometimes I love wearing them. Especially when I am in a pissed off mood, wearing those clothes make me feel badass. I strut around in them not giving a fuck how I look. Relishing in the fact that I look unattractive. It’s a small way of rebelling against the expectation that I always have to look good. Sometimes I just need that comfort, that knowledge that no, I don’t have to “make an effort” and I don’t have to conform to men’s idea of what a woman should look like.
On the flip side, if I want to go all out with a figure hugging dress, killer heels and gorgeous stockings, my hair perfect and make up expertly applied (haha, that never happens, I’m rubbish at make up), I don’t do this to conform to men’s idea of what a woman should look like. I do this because I sometimes like being very femme. I walk around feeling 10 feet tall and confident, my back straighter and my stride longer. I still don’t care about how many heads I may turn or how many men will think I am pretty.
Men, can you please just leave us alone? We don’t exist for your benefit. We can make decisions based on our own feelings and desires. You are not the centre of the universe.
Journalists out there, can you please stop writing articles telling women what men like about us? We don’t care. We won’t dress differently because we think it will please men. WE do whatever the hell we want to, so those articles only perpetuate the myth that it’s all for the benefit of men. Stop already.