To read about F's and my London trip, start here and click "newer post" to continue the story.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

...And one more thing, while I'm sitting here with my back hurting.

I thought about this again yesterday when I hobbled to the store (they were having a sale) to buy some jeans and what not.

A thing you see on the internet is men expressing distress when a woman asks if an outfit makes her butt look big. What's he supposed to say? they ask. What's she asking? They don't get it. Or they indicate that they snarkily answer, "No, your big butt makes your butt look big."

I see this a lot, although it seems immediately obvious to me what she's asking and why, and how the man ought to answer.

But I'll spell it out here so I can refer to it in future.

Anyone surely knows that a woman who is busty can have a very different appearance depending on what she wears. Imagine such a woman wearing a simply tailored, nicely fitting navy jacket with a deep v-neck and a white top underneath. Maybe there's some detail around the bottom of the jacket. Contrast this outfit with a bright international orange top, tightly fitting, with frilly crap around the low-cut neckline, and showing a lot of cleavage. Same woman, same body, but the second outfit will draw the eye to her bosom and give you the impression that she has a lot of it, in a way that the first does not. Right?

Well, this is the kind of thing we women can see for ourselves when we look in the mirror. But it's hard to twist around and look at the back of yourself unless you have front-and-back mirrors like a dressing room does.

So what she's asking is - does this outfit draw attention to my butt and make it look prominent unnecessarily or in a way that the other things I wear do not? All you have to do is look at it and apply a little analysis. If the pants or skirt is neither pulled tight nor bunchy, the waist is not visibly dragged down, and the color, cut and style don't draw the eye to that spot, then the correct and truthful answer is no, the outfit does not make her butt look big. If these things are not the case, then you should say so: you can either explain that, for instance, the pleats look roomier than they have to (don't compare her to a circus clown, it's hurtful and not value-added communication) or just say that it does not appear as flattering as some of her other outfits, the blue pants or whatever. It's a straightforward question, and should get a straightforward answer.

Of course, if she responds huffily to anything other than a flattering response, you should tell her not to ask questions if she doesn't want an answer.


Anonymous said...

You can ALWAYS plead the fifth.....

Laura(southernxyl) said...

In the context, that's still snarky and hurtful.

I think most women would like to feel that they can trust their men not to hurt their feelings unnecessarily. I don't see what's hard about viewing this question as it is asked, without trying to come up with a way to be rude about it. God knows we do not choose our bodies out of catalogs. Women who are fat, have big butts, etc., aren't doing that on purpose for the most part. Some go to extremes not to, to no avail. They'd still like to look as nice as they can, and they still have feelings and are entitled to some respect.

Kate P said...

First, I'm sorry your back hurts! I hope you're feeling better soon.

This is a sensitive topic for sure. . . at the risk of sounding sexist, do you think it's also that men are reluctant to comment on how something looks because they are "not supposed to" know anything about fashion--that it is not very manly to discuss pleats or even say, "What about that red skirt you have?"

Laura(southernxyl) said...


Hm, maybe. In which case I'd suggest that they step out of their comfort zone just a bit. It won't kill them.

Anonymous said...

Your back was really hurting 23 years ago! Remember?

Laura(southernxyl) said...

Yes, but I got a baby out of it.

Am still in considerable pain and having trouble walking. I reckon I will call the doctor tomorrow, although I don't know what more they can do than I am already doing.


theobromophile said...

I finally moseyed back to your blog, Laura. :)

Women are looking for a binary response, which is, as appropriate: "No, you look lovely/cute/slender" or "That skirt doesn't do you justice". Last time I checked, men do binary thinking very well.