Why Do We All Notice THAT Kind Of Woman?

A few weeks ago we went to a party at a friend’s house. I didn’t know many of the people there, but one person stood out from all the rest. You all know the woman I’m talking about.

Bleach blonde, thin, 40-something, fake boobs, wedge heels, strapless black top, and short shorts. She’s attractive, but in a contrived sort of way. She knows people (men) are watching her, and that’s just the way she likes it. She looked like a middle-aged Barbie.

I didn’t know this woman, but I became fascinated watching the effect she had on the people around her. Men’s eyes followed her. Women kept looking back at her. Even I found myself watching her, and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out exactly what it was about her that sparked such interest.

She made a comment to one of the men in our party that she was disappointed so-and-so had just left, and hoped he didn’t think she was with whats-his-name, because she wasn’t. Within ten minutes she was making the rounds, and within another couple of hours was seen leaving with that-guy-over-there.

I’m not being catty, just curious. I don’t know her, didn’t talk to her, and my first impression of her could be way off the mark. She could be a microbiologist with a Nobel prize in her back pocket for all I know.

To be honest, maybe I’ve even been that woman in the past, and I was merely recognizing something familiar.

Blonde

Women like to look nice. We spend a huge amount of time and money searching for things to make ourselves look attractive. But do we sometimes go overboard and make our appearance–and our motives for looking attractive–the main focus of our lives?

Especially if we reach a certain age and find ourselves unmarried, do we sell ourselves short and become desperately “flashy” in an attempt to attract attention?

To me, there seemed something sad about her. There was nothing unique or genuine about her. She looked like your stereotypical Dallas woman. Did she know who she was? Was her only objective in life to snag a man?

And why did I care?

I’m not married, but I do live with someone. This is the first relationship I’ve had that gives me the freedom I never had when I was married. And by freedom, I mean the freedom to BE myself and do the things that make me happy. I’m not saying you can’t have that freedom in a marriage. For whatever reason, I never felt I had as much as I do now.

Maybe it was because of being so busy raising two children. That’s a choice I would never undo, and that particular loss of freedom had many more rewards than sacrifices.

In all honesty, it was more a matter of playing second fiddle to someone else. Their outside interests came first. I let myself  become swallowed up in my husband’s life and path, and never took the time to develop my own.

No blame to him. It was my own responsibility and I let myself down.

Now I’m older and wiser. Younger women seem to be much better at making their own lives before marriage and not giving up so much of their own dreams and goals for their husbands or families. I do believe you can have it all, but it may not be easy.

We don’t have to sell ourselves short. I don’t think the woman at the party gave herself enough credit. Rather than being happy in her own skin, she seemed to be playing the role of what she expected others wanted. I’ve been there. It never works. You wind up making poor choices and getting used.

Perhaps I’m way off base about the woman at the party. Maybe she has a thriving life, full of activities and endeavors that keep her fulfilled and satisfied. Maybe she’s philosophical and has interesting ideas. Maybe she isn’t as desperate as she seemed that night.

Maybe she was just lonely. For whatever reason, we certainly all noticed.


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20 comments

  1. averageinsuburbia

    I know exactly the kind you are talking about and I’m always slightly jealous when I come across one. I know what you mean when you ask yourself why you care. I guess a part of us would also like the attention. And we think we could probably get that same kind of attention if we wanted to lower ourselves which makes us kick ourselves for being so judgmental. Grrrr.. I’m getting a little angry just thinking about it.

    • Mind Margins/Run Nature

      I didn’t feel jealous of her as much as I felt judgmental, and also somewhat fascinated by the power she seemed to hold over everyone’s attention. I generally don’t like to draw attention to myself, but that’s definitely a different sort of attention.

  2. melissabluefineart

    This was an insightful post. Sadly, I must admit that I was, also, once this woman. You are exactly right~ I desperately wanted to snag a guy because that was how I measured myself. After some years passed and I found myself still single, I slowly began to fill the holes in my heart and life with meaning of my own. I’m mortified, now, to realize how obvious I was and how I appeared to people. I’m still single, but I’m too busy to notice most of the time. Your post made me think that maybe I wasn’t the only one to go through this embarrassing phase. I’m trying to teach my daughter to measure herself differently. Maybe she will start earlier having a more meaningful life!

    • Mind Margins/Run Nature

      I think many women have been through this at some point in their lives. No need to be mortified or embarrassed; it’s all part of finding our way through life. I think society sends mixed signals to both men and women, in addition to what we see in movies and television, and we have to work hard to sort through all the confusion. When I taught, it made me sad to see prekindergarten and kindergarten girls already being dressed so provocatively by their parents, and by the fact that my more physically developed fifth grade girls could so easily be talking into doing dumb things by the older boys.

  3. SeniorRunner

    You certainly found an outstanding exemplar of a major stereotype in our society! Our labels for such a person often reflect our opinion of them, ranging across a spectrum from “Blonde Bombshell” to “Blonde Floozy” and on to “Dumb Blonde.” Of course, these and similar terms fail to do justice to the Nobel Prize winners in the group, as you suggest.

    Just a couple of comments…

    Not all women with these personality traits — such women may be blonde or otherwise — are “desperate.” Some are cucumber-cool and skillfully manipulative. True arteests. Or maybe that’s just crazy “man talk.”

    Also, while they are clearly in the business of attracting attention, I’m reluctant to fault them for that. After all, I belong to a new stereotype called “Blogger,” which, to a great extent, is about attracting attention. Sure, I write partly for my own benefit. But when I describe the agony of running through the steamy corn fields of Iowa, I’m hoping at least a few folks will read it!

      • Steve Schwartzman

        SeniorRunner raises a good point about all of us in this milieu. If we didn’t want at least some attention, we’d write in a private journal rather than a blog. I’d say the goal is to strike a balance somewhere between too much modesty and not keeping out light hidden under a bushel basket, as the old expression goes.

        Steve Schwartzman
        http://portraitsofwildflowers.wordpress.com

      • Mind Margins/Run Nature

        Yes, he has a good point. I always thought I didn’t like to draw attention to myself, so this makes me think. I think I enjoy putting something out there for others to ponder and respond to, and I enjoy being part of a writing community. If this draws attention to myself, at least it’s (hopefully) for making someone think rather than merely responding to the way I look. I guess it all comes down to your motives and what you want to accomplish.

  4. westerner54

    Ahhh…all so thought-provoking, and your post brought out such interesting comments, as well. I seem to be repeatedly chagrined when my snap judgements about someone are disproved once I get to actually know them. You’d think I’d learn. Of course, there are plenty of folks who live up to their stereotypes, which makes it kind of hard to get better…

  5. coachdougbowers

    Interesting and thought provoking. As someone who has traveled almost half my life I’ve learned to go beyond looks. I’ve had lunch with a police officer,a monk and a “lady of the evening” all at the same table. The cop was on the take, the monk shouldn’t have been drinking beer especially at that hour in the evening but the lady was indeed a lady and was putting her two kids through university – she had no other ‘skills’ but she was determined her kids would. From a distance – who would most people turn up their nose at or judge?
    It’s a funny world – good bad and indifferent – all mixed together to keep it interesting.
    I kind of like it that way.
    doug

    • Mind Margins/Run Nature

      I do, too. My sister used to be amazed that I treated everyone the same, regardless of your job, social status, or looks, and I have to admit that’s still true. I’ll talk to anyone, and am completely unimpressed with your job, salary, or number of degrees. This usually only gets me in trouble when someone thinks I should be impressed, and I’m not!

  6. skippingstones

    I saved this to comment on later (not on my phone), and it got buried. It is rather interesting – people, I mean. Stereotypes exist for a reason, but not every person who seems to fit a stereotype actually does. Without getting to know her better, we can’t really know where she really falls within that picture she was painting. I find our reactions to people as interesting as anything else. So many great comments, and we’re all going to view this from our own perspective, based on our own experiences – experiences either in observing and judging, or in being observed and judged. I know I’ve been on both sides of that fence.

    What came to mind as I read this is that I would be feeling many of the same things you did. I am a little appalled at myself because my eyes are consistently drawn to cleavage or butt crack or thigh-high skirts, but that’s the sole reason those areas were exposed in the first place. Same thing if a guy parades around the beach in a speedo. They want to be looked at. But I feel weird that I can’t seem to stop looking. The bottom line is that it is an out of the ordinary sight for us. I’d keep wanting to look, observe, study, soak it in, etc, if the person came to a cookout with their face painted blue. I just wouldn’t feel so ashamed of myself about staring.

    Also, I’d be feeling a little judgmental about the woman, too. I can help that, but I don’t often help that. I do think that is human nature, as well. We categorize and compartmentalize the things that are outside of our own realm of experience or comfort. We feel the need to pass judgement on things that don’t suit us. Perhaps it’s an attempt to justify to ourselves why we don’t do such and such, why we don’t think or act “that way”. In finding fault with her dress and behavior, we are at the same time telling ourselves that it’s not only acceptable, but RIGHT that we are not those things: flirtatious, wide open, sexy, sexually confident, aggressive, provacative…whatever it is that we don’t like about that other person.

    At least, that’s what I often find to be true about myself.

    • Mind Margins/Run Nature

      Thanks for the great comment. I’ve been in Wyoming and am just now getting around to answering email. I think one of the reasons I found this woman to be so interesting to watch is because I identified with some part of her. Maybe it was the need to be noticed, or to be attractive to men, but I thought about her for weeks afterwards. A lot of times I think we disapprove of something in others that we really don’t want to see in ourselves. It’s easier to judge someone else or look down on them, than admit that we actually have a lot in common with them!

  7. monica

    interesting post. i’ve been out of town a lot lately and i had marked this and a few other posts to read when i got back home. i think a lonely woman is as recognizable as the woman who is dressed like the above woman and yet is comfortable in her own skin. i think self-confidence is recognizable from a mile away no matter how a woman looks or dresses. and i think a good measure of self-confidence is attractive to men and women and gets positive attention. it sounds like this woman was possibly exuding something else? at any rate, i liked the post. you always leave me thinking.

    • Mind Margins/Run Nature

      Thanks, Monica. I don’t think it was self-confidence she exuded, but she did seem to move as if she didn’t care what anyone thought of her, which I liked. On the flip side, I sensed sadness and desperation. I wondered if she was lonely, or had recently been through a tough time. I bet she has lots of stories to tell.

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