October 14, 2013

"Woah, Ann, all this time I thought when women show appreciation for the beauty of other women it's because they appreciate the beauty of other women."

"I still have that conceit. Pretty women clearly tend to enjoy each other more than they enjoy less attractive women. I see it all the time but I'm reminded specifically of a time when I worked third shift, and most people on our shift were dreary slobs, and there was only one woman whom I would have called pretty. Then a new girl was hired and the pretty girl confided in me, 'It's nice to have another pretty girl.'"

A new comment, by Mark Trade, from a post from several days ago about attitudes about beauty, to which I've got to say: Key word: another.

Why did he write "Woah, Ann"? (I'd have spelled it "whoa" and prefer to be called "Althouse," so "Whoa, Althouse" would have been better, in my book, but it's frontpaged anyway.) He was reacting to something I'd written in the comments:
When women show their appreciation for how other women look, I think they are doing some or all of these things:

1. Communicating friendliness and being sociable.

2. Sublimating envy.

3. Thinking about things they could do to look better (like get a dress like that or a haircut like that), so it's like shopping for ideas to be used on themselves.

4. Expressing hostility in [a] weird way. ("You look great" = you look bad on other occasions.)
How would I diagnose Mark's workplace confidante? First, you've got to notice that the person he calls "the pretty girl" was not showing appreciation to that other woman, she was speaking in confidence to the man who regarded her as the only pretty girl.

So what was she really doing? Worrying about her own status as the pretty one and fishing for a response like "Oh, you are much prettier"? Bolstering her relationship with the male who has noticed her prettiness to make it harder for the "new girl" to challenge her status? Expressing her long-term anxiety that she has been looking unattractive in the context of a workplace that appears to be somewhere only "dreary slobs" would work?

Her taking Mark aside for this mini-drama of self-esteem-boosting and relationship-building apparently worked, because Mark remembers her fondly as "the pretty girl" who was magnanimous toward other "pretty girls." She worked his vanity and male pride successfully, and it wasn't even very hard. Despite years of reflection and prodding from my 4-point list, he still puts a rosy interpretation on the scene.

The naivete. The world runs on the lubrication of this naivete!

AND: And by "this naivete," I mean Mark's naivete. I though that was obvious until I started reading comments.

27 comments:

Ron said...

"lubrication of this naivete" -- Good one! I believe I've a new nickname for it..."My naivete".

urpower said...

"Whoa Ann" would be modifying "Whoa Nelly"- an excitable horse you're trying to get to stop. Maybe lubing this pretty girl got her to be a better worker!- a male prerogative more than a female, one imagines. Lube does wonders.

SOJO said...

Maybe she was serious in a sorority girl kind of way. Not all pretty girls like being alone among the guys all the time - and they are alone if there are no other pretty girls. I remember a roommate in college saying, "welcome to the pretty girls club" or something to that effect. Not all pretty girls are Queen Bee Loners.

mrs. e said...

You hit the nail on the head. Knew it as soon as I read it...

As for the Woah/Whoa - I'd of assumed a wee bit of dyslexia or some fingers typing just (I actually first typed 'jsut') typing before their turn...

elkh1 said...

"most people on our shift were dreary slobs...'It's nice to have another pretty girl.'"

The new girl was glad she was not alone in the Land of Dreary Slobs.

Freeman Hunt said...

She may have said that because she actually liked it. If she was the only "pretty girl," she probably got a lot of attention all the time and might have been tired of it and happy for another girl to come around and take a bit of the scrutiny-induced pressure off of her.

B said...

Let's dissect why Ann prefers to be called Althouse.

Larry J said...

Back in 1990, I spent the year on a Pacific island at government expense. Unfortunately, that island was Shemya near the very end of the Aleutian Island chain (count back about 3 specks from the very end). There were only a few hundred people on the island and the women were outnumbered at least 10 to 1. Shortly before I transferred out, a new female airman joined my squadron. It became immediately apparent that Airman R. was the most attractive woman on the island and not by a little bit. She was very pretty, young (about 19), smart and a good person. Still, it was tough on her having men hanging around her door at all hours. I left soon after she arrived but I doubt her year on The Rock was a good experience for her. Actually, life on The Rock sucked for just about everyone but it was probably worse for her than most other people.

Ron said...

Isn't "Althouse" a character that Ann plays? Like "Uncle Milty"....

rhhardin said...

An extremely busted secretary would amuse the room of guys by wearing suspenders that followed some huge great circle route from shoulder to waist - probably an elliptic curve of some kind, breasts being what they are. Differential geometry would need to be consulted.

No other secretaries liked her.

The guys liked her fine, being geometricians.

rhhardin said...

Althouse vs Villanova.

Christy said...

What Elk said.

Donald Douglas said...

"...and [I] prefer to be called 'Althouse'..."

I usually address you as "Ann," but "Althouse" it is! I guess that helps maintain the mentor-mentee relationship, you might say, lol.

Or, it could create more of a casual homie relationship, as in homies from the 'hood.

"Yo, Althouse, you wanna head down and get some pizza and beers"?

Lol, sounds like we'd be "boon coons" out on the town, as my dad used to say.

rcocean said...

Wow, women are such emotional Machiavelli's.

I've been in offices where most of the women ran the gamut in terms of beauty with a couple of extremely good looking ones. The very pretty ones always seem to bond with each other, socialize after work, etc. They've weren't snobs but interacted with each other at a much deeper and consistent level.

Ann Althouse said...

"They've weren't snobs but interacted with each other at a much deeper and consistent level."

How do you know?

Did what was "deeper" ever include a knife in the back?

Inga said...

Althouse, hit it head on. It was a way of manipulating a response she needed to hear.

This notion that women care more about what other women think about their looks is simply not accurate IMO. Women who prefer pretty women to plain women are shallow, why would it matter? Do two pretty women have a better chance of attracting more males? After a certain point in a young woman's life, shouldn't they get past that need as being of prime importance?

Isn't life and friendship more than a "prowling" partner? How about genuine fondness for another woman based on mutual respect and shared interests?

Inga said...

I should clarify, a response the pretty girl needed to hear, not Althouse.

David said...

Gotta lube up that naiveté. The guy was running dry.

David said...

I think I'm going to call you Senator Althouse, ma'am.

rcocean said...

"How do you know?"

Personal observation and discussion with them and other women in the office(s).

"Stab in the back?"

Who knows. If there was a falling out, they kept up the appearance of friendship.

Sigivald said...

The world runs on the lubrication of this naivete!

Alternatively: Not everyone is Machiavellian*.

As SOJO suggested, maybe it really was what she said it was.

(* Scrolling down, I see rcocean saw it that way, too...)

John Constantius said...

My general observation is that young women tend to hang out with other young women who are roughly the same level of attractiveness as themselves. You occasionally see the prom queen with the fat & ugly best friend but it tends to be fairly rare. My instinct is that this young woman finally found someone she considered a potential friend, rather than the "Dreary Slob" sorts she might be cordial with but would never make a meaningful emotional connection with.

Young men have this tendency too but to a much lesser degree. As both genders get older the importance of their friends' relative attractiveness declines substantially, especially in middle age.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

A pretty friend for a woman is an accessory, like a purse or a husband. Like bridesmaid's dresses, they must never outclass the bride. All of which is why Hillary Clinton will be the next President.

R. Chatt said...

I've been friends with some women who were extremely good looking but not catty. They somehow knew that being born gorgeous was not something they could honestly take credit for and they picked their friends based on people's characters rather than their looks. I'm not saying they didn't revel in the chase and the attention they received from men but they were quite realistic about the motivation. They wanted something more real and genuine from their friends.

I've known some men who also were gorgeous and even somewhat embarrassed by people's reactions to them and of similar character. There are people who are beautiful inside and out.

Lots of people are insecure snobs and don't want to be seen with people who they consider lower or less attractive than themselves. You're judged by the company you keep, etc. Lots of people also don't want to be with people who they consider better looking or smarter than themselves because of the same insecurity.

But some people do genuinely appreciate the beauty around them. It's possible when you have your ego in check.

Kelly said...

I have never observed the more attractive girls segregating themselves in a working environment.. Normally woman gravitate to each other according to age, marital status and interests. At least that's been my experience.

Crazy Jane said...

My own belief is that everyone has a hurdle point of attractiveness -- men for women, women for men, either sex for each other -- and is willing to consider friendship or a relationship with anyone who clears the hurdle.
That said, I have had beautiful (truly beautiful) girlfriends and while walking down the street with them have found myself virtually invisible. I take this as preparation for my later years, when, I am informed, all women become invisible.
Like LarryJ, I visited Shemya but only briefly. The guys started introducing themselves the minute I walked into the mess hall.

Vernon said...

Back in college, all the pretty girls were Republicans.