Archive for March, 2012
It’s pretty seventh grade to hear the word cherry and snicker, but you cannot deny that these fruits fascinate men. They’ve got it all; they are at once sweet and tart, innocent and sexy, refreshingly clean and darkly ripe and they come in pairs. Men like pairs of round things. Oh yeah, and – this is science people – they like red.
Not just for men, cherries. This fruit is really having its moment. Retro imagery gives us more than five a day of these beauties, and it looks like women who get sex appeal flash cherries like a red light in a window, whether worn as jewelry, tattoos or part of a pattern. (Of course, cherries are also very healthy, help us sleep and we might just enjoy the taste, but stick with me here.)
Even Shelby in Steel Magnolias, God rest her, loved cherries. I mean, she was buried in the suit with cherries on the lapel. Hold on – got to soldier on. Thankfully, I could ‘run to Texas and back,’ even though Shelby can’t.
Point is, the word ‘cherries’ is often paired with the word ‘ripe.’ They imply readiness… and reward. If that’s not a style that attracts men, I don’t know what is.
Plus, men like to imagine how we eat cherries. Tilting our heads back and dipping them into our mouths and all. You get the point. How many of us practised the knot trick after Sherilyn Fenn famously mastered it as Audrey Horne in Twin Peaks?
Wow. I sound pretty objectifying for a feminist – but I’m okay with that. Being honest about what we mean and what we want is part of being a modern women. But, let’s take a cue from cherries and maintain some of their dualities and intrigue. I.e., don’t overdo the tart. We don’t need to be so try hard (sorry, Sherilyn); cherries, after all are naturally appealing. And they’ve got some taste to back up their promise.
Most people, whether consciously or not, associate food with enjoyment of life. It’s sensuous, it marks occasion, and like sex, it literally keeps us going. The more you seem to like it, the more you seem to like life.
Most men love food, and this is one of the things I love most about men. They eat because they are hungry; they eat because they want to and they usually don’t count calories and beat themselves up about it unless they need to, like some genders I know.
Before I serve up my opinions on food, allow me a caveat. This blog is all about healthy women, healthy body image, healthy confidence and healthy sexuality. Eating is part of this. Do I judge habitual overeating? Yes, but not nearly as much as a pervasive culture of under-eating, food guilt, fictional allergies and intolerances, calorie counting and diet-of-the-moment mentionitis.
It’s. Just. Boring.
When it comes to food, get involved. Order what you like and enjoy it. And don’t be afraid to use your hands where appropriate. Sure there are probably some rigid public school boys, anal retentives and Teutonic types who are so removed from their food and the pleasures of life that to see you digging in with relish will only freak them out. There are also flaming chauvinistic fattists out there who think that any level of enjoyment of food means that you will explode in one year’s time. We don’t like them anyway.
But do you know what men don’t like? When we order daintily only to stare at and eventually start eating off their plates. If you want chips, order your own freaking chips. Don’t pretend you’re going in for one only to eat half.
I joke that men should dump women with food hang-ups. Because if I were a man, I would. And that’s because I know that if a women isn’t comfortable eating in front of a man, that’s just the start of a long list of things she’s not comfortable doing in front of him.
In these ‘post feminist’ times, we women spend a lot of time wondering why it is that we don’t yet share the complete set of privileges that our male counterparts do, whether it’s examining how we treat each other, how much money we spend on cosmetics and clothes or how our very genetic make-up, from brain and hormonal balances to our built-in ability to bear children, affects how we relate with the world.
While these inequalities are certainly unacceptable and likely down to a blend of all sorts of things, what I can say is this: devoting an inordinate amount of mental energy questioning a BASIC need for nourishment is not helping. We’ve got enough on our plates.
Food is fun, comforting and sexy – just like a partner should be. Let’s just dig in.
This blog is officially one month old, so that makes it an official month that I’ve been talking a lot of sh*t about shoulders. You’ll note that my Oscars post about the magic of shoulders and the results of my extremely scientific and statistically significant poll (with a sample size of, ahem, 21) prove it – shoulders attract men!
Say what you want about boobs, bums and legs (and men like all of those things, obviously, but that wouldn’t make this blog terribly insightful, would it?); shoulders don’t take up the editorial real estate of their aforementioned cousins, but their power is by no means underappreciated. Men get a glimpse of a shoulder, especially just the one, and your work may well be done.
Style-wise, you can highlight your shoulder in several ways. A Jennifer Beals casual, ‘oh look my sweatshirt just fell off’ situation, an asymmetrical dress that bears one shoulder (this makes men go rogue) or anything strapless. You can’t really go wrong, so long as you’re remotely toned. Tanned all the better.
And the best part? I really believe that this is attention is positive. While men may initially see exposed shoulders as a gateway to a state of undress, shoulders have always signified strength. Symbolically, think Atlas; shoulders are the platform on which we carry the weight, be that physical or metaphorical. While I have previously speculated that men like a calm and easy partner, men like women who can handle stuff. They don’t want to walk through life with a weakling.
So it’s shoulders that in some way give them a glimpse of what’s to come… whether that’s for a night or the longer term.
That long view is a funny old thing. We women are notorious for our ability to fast forward the tapes. For example, we meet a guy, we have some banter about travel in Morocco, we like him. What he may not know is that we’ve already got him sunbathing naked on the enclosed roof of a riad in Marrakech, after our imaginary courtship of six blissful months. He may propose on this trip, for the record.
Well I like to think shoulders make men act, by whatever increment, the same. Maybe when they see them, they too, are fast forwarding. They might imagine kissing a shoulder and where that leads; they may consider what they could do to the breasts so nearby and what they look like naked.
On a rooftop… of a riad… in Morocco.
With Spring on its way, there is extreme pressure to get on board with patterns. With this in mind at the weekend, I happily marched off to Liberty with a voucher and a burning desire to spend some cash. After serious cognitive intervention, I backed away from the Manolos and tried on a Peter Pilotto print dress. I emerged from the dressing room to a couple of swooning salespeople, flapping wildly about the intricacy of the pattern. ‘Look at this signature chain detail, woven into the silk – and that’s just the foundation of what is an amazing print!’
As a woman, I appreciate that all of that is true. I wonder if a man, however, would see this dress as he saw one of those early 90s 3D posters – you know the kind where if you squint your eyes up and look long enough, Jesus’s face will emerge… or a palm tree… or a Rolling Stones mouth?
While this dress probably doesn’t have any of those features, it did seem to convert my breasts into Lara Croft-like wireframes. I suppose that’s a score for the men. Otherwise, I fear that patters might do to men what they do to the eye. Confuse.
The same goes for these Liberty, tropical and/or floral prints, rumoured to be all the rage this season. Are the feminine? Yes. Do they attract the eye? No question. But aren’t they just a little… Little House on the Prairie for these times? Oh wait, we are making them modern by clashing them.
I read once that the difference between art and fashion is that art, in its time, is unpopular and later proves beautiful whereas fashion is at first popular and later seen as ridiculous. Except the classics. Like the little black dress. Men, in their wisdom, like those. Well done, men.
I take it back – maybe patterns don’t confuse men at all. Maybe men just see through them to the susceptible fashion victim underneath – and recognise that more straightforward styling choices reflect a stronger pattern of thought.
As a post script, I never bought the dress (more down to fit than pattern). The salesperson did try her best to convince me; she even brought me a pair of shoes to compliment the outfit. She went with the classic choice – the Manolos, and so then did I.
In my last post about the dreaded High Collar, I made reference to the white shirt/black bra combination, i.e. the easy win. While this look can no doubt be worn elegantly, the win is made all the more easy the more easy you make yourself look. I.e., make that white shirt a vest (tank top for my American readers) with the bra black underneath, and you’ll get your man.
Pardon the pun, but this is not black and white territory – there is a lot going on here. First, men can use some pretty base language to describe a woman they see in such an outfit. Slutty. Sexy. Low class. In fact, this style is a real bone of contention for my male friends. When I suggest it turns them on, they reflexively insist it’s trashy and sloppy and that they don’t like it. All of them, and I say all because my track record is legitimately 100% on this, return to the subject a few hours or even days later, sheepishly admitting that on reflection, they agree with me. ‘It’s kind of hot.’
I think there’s a perceived wildness to wife beaters and black bras that also has a certain appeal – a sense of reckless abandon. See tights, ripped for similar effect. Actually, there is no ripped tights entry. I just like that mechanic.
Men get as much of a sniff of the crazy and think they are in for a carnal feast. They imagine toys, acrobatics, being tied to the bedpost and, they hope, a penchant for anal. Of course, what they often miss is that crazy can mean insecurity.
You know me by now, so let me restate that a confident woman, happy in herself and her body, is going to deliver the sexual goods ten times better than a nail-biting lunatic and she might not even write cringe-inducing poetry if she doesn’t get a call back. But men usually figure that one out for themselves. In time.
So maybe that’s why, despite all the negative connotations of a black bra and white shirt, I see value in this look. First, it is a statement of sexual empowerment. A woman showing her bra so outwardly is beating men to the point. She knows she has breasts; she knows she has half decent bras; she’s okay with the rest of us knowing, too.
There’s also a confidence piece. If you rock a dark bra under something as casual as a white vest, you either picked up what was closest to you (this might have the morning after appeal described in my post on the Smokey Eye) or aren’t necessarily dressing to impress in the first place. (Of course, you still will want to read my blog, won’t you?)
Finally, it is a way of letting your dark side show, and let’s face it, we all have one. It keeps things interesting and sometimes, it’s the reveal of those depths that drive the deeper connections. That – and it probably drives better music collections, too.
I’ve spent a couple of weeks now categorizing my posts as So Right, as in those style choices that attract men. Now it’s time to introduce what’s So Wrong, a rundown of things that men don’t seem to appreciate so much.
The first of these is the high collar. The magazines are predicting a big year for collars. They are all over the catwalks, they tell us. They adorn our favourite celebs, from Alexa Chung to Michelle Williams to Zooey Deschanel. The high street is literally crawling with collars, sometimes lacey, often rigid, always proper.
I, however, am not convinced – and I don’t think that men are either.
First of all, collars hide breasts. You’ll hear plenty of men extol the makings of that secretarial/sexy librarian fantasy: a white button down, BUTTONED DOWN (wear a black bra underneath and it’s your ace in the hole), but a prim collar, buttoned to the top, peeking out over a cardigan or something equally obstructive? No sir. It’s too much of a challenge, mentally and physically, for a man to undress you.
Secondly, collars in our day and age are distinctly masculine, associated with executive position or industry uniform (and this is precisely why female executives suit up – to demonstrate equality). Imagine you’re a man, you’re on a night out and you’ve spent a long day at work – would you rather be reminded of your working day or the promise of the night ahead?
On an emotional level, a collar literally keeps your heart centre in check. I do a lot of yoga (a sentence that I also find men typically like). Shining a light on our heart centre is core to the practice; it makes you stand tall and keep your posture open to the world – two things that attract people of any gender. Why would you want to close this area down unless you’ve undergone open heart surgery? Search me.
Sociologically, I see something vaguely sinister about the comeback of the collar. Distressingly, and potentially ushered in by the Royal Wedding and the subsequent focus on the posh party set, it is on trend to celebrate classism. The prim propriety that comes with a collar seems to be a part of that trend, and any inequality raises the hackles of this feminist.
Finally, on the subject of raised hackles, some of you have asked if I am promoting styles that attract men who want to shag you vs. men who want to marry you, and I’m sure many of you feel that collars are acceptable to the latter. I will of course state the obvious: the shagging kind and the marrying kind are not mutually exclusive – thank God. I’ll remind you here that women also do the choosing, thank you very much. But more simply I’ll say that connection is connection. Categorisation of right and wrong might work for blog posts (I’m hoping so). When it’s applied to people at first sight, it will close more doors than it opens.
It’s no secret that a drinking woman is an easier target for men, who, despite whatever progress we’ve made through the years, still bear the onus of having to make the first move. But when they are scanning the bar, who attracts men most? A woman with a fruity drink, wine, a classic cocktail or a glass of hard liquor served neat? (I asked this question to one of my more depraved friends, who answered with ‘Which one is showing the most cleavage?’. Point taken, but this post would be therefore be over, so I’ll continue.)
I suspect men are impressed by women who can hold their liquor, especially when it is distinctly masculine. It telegraphs ‘I can compete’, which may lead men to believe they have found a genuine sexual sparring partner. Remember when Deadwood was at the height of its popularity a few years back? Seemed just a mention of that show and an order of whisky could give men, pardon the pun, wood. #shootingfishinabarrel
Here’s the thing about whisky – and about men and women. Men like it when women know stuff, especially man stuff. In fiction and film, we have been conditioned to recognise a heroine, if, for example, she can fix a car. Knowing how and what to drink seems to be a hallmark of these types of women. If you know your single malts from your blends and why you sometimes add an ‘e’ to the spelling, you might just impress some people. Men people.
Also, different drinks beget different types of drunkenness. Tequila gives mad energy; gin can lead to some emotional swings; wine makes you warm, sometimes slurry, and wonderful. But what is it about whisky that opens the door to banter? Somehow, it seems to fire the synapses and the one-liners and snappy comebacks flow like…drink.
Ah banter. It’s the way the clever peacock; the sarcasm, the subtle one-upmanship, the laughter… the connection. It’s also a bit of a danger zone. Ask yourself: are those sparky jabs actually mean or disrespectful? And conversational tricks, while impressive, could be avoidance. Carefully divine what’s facade and what’s authentic, and watch your own delivery, too.
Yes, a man likes a woman who knows stuff. But remember my post on yellow, because they like ease and respect – a lot. They want you to know stuff so you can acknowledge and appreciate the stuff they know.
I am not betraying my feminist roots by warning you not to play too heavy of a hand – men don’t like overly competitive men, either. Instead, learn from my mistakes. I’ve been so carried with my own banter that I’ve watched that the subject of my wit walk, carrying away his whisky (and my refill). Keep your powder on the dry side and don’t banter men away before you get the attention and respect you deserve.