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: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.
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.)
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.