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September 22, 2004


Kip Manley

The Spouse is a graphic designer in a hip industrial design firm; she wears no make-up except for the most blue-moon occasional party; she despises high heels; she is not a hippie, nor does she read much Habermas, she is not unaware of some of the benefits of the Man, and while she does not mind being mistaken for gay (overly much), she isn't going out of her way to set off any gaydar sets. —She does like various cleansing cremes, and the occasional charcoal scrub, but as these are not worn out, I hardly think they count.

But we do live in the Pacific Northwest. I believe she once or twice wore lipstick to the office in New Jersey.


I hate kissing women who are wearing stuff on their cheeks, esp. powdery flaky stuff. Also, I hate licking the face of a woman who's wearing makeup, because the stuff is gritty and nasty-tasting. If you are into face-licking, then make-up can be a problem.
No problem with nail polish.


Thank you Kip! See Belle, there's a whole non-hippie, no makeup/heels demographic. It's not a perfect proxy, of course (and I didn't say I'd having nothing in common with a madeup gal), but it's been a reliable indicator. Anyway, I'm no hippie, but I'll admit that none of the women I've dated seriously ever owned a pair of high heels and the decisions were much more "should I shave my legs this year?" than "which color this month?"

But I'm trying to branch out, really I am.

Kip Manley

On the other hand, I will note that I've found myself tasting the ghost of lipsticks past all morning: I haven't worn it in years, and I haven't kissed anyone wearing anything more than a thin sheen of gloss in almost as long. (I'd feel the need to glam out in some sort of compensatory response—Halloween is coming, after all—but the years have not been kind.)

Also, Ogged, I must add one additional data point: said Spouse is a cartoonist. And they are, well, a breed apart.


No makeup, no high heels. Really short hair. I wince at being called a "hippie," seeing as I use no drugs weirder than alcohol and caffeine, and I'm about as liberal as Wesley Clark or John Kerry. I just don't OWN any makeup, nor know how to use it - it's a legacy effect. Basically the same as my vegetarianism - my parents were vegetarian, so I never learned how to eat or cook meat.

Would you say I'm making an active point of the low-maintenance lifestyle? Seems to me I'm just taking it easy and the makeup/heels people are doing the frippery.


I don't wear heels because they're uncomfortable, I wear makeup (but not enough that you'd notice), and I wear pants to work pretty much everyday. Maybe it's because I am a feminist, or maybe it's because I only work with women and I just don't think it's worth the effort.

Cam Larios

Out here in the Pacific Northwest, I don't think eschewing makeup makes such a strong statement. I don't wear makeup unless I'm very pale from illness and want a little dash of blush to keep me from looking like death warmed over. (As for heels, how does anybody manage those?) Given, I don't have a professional-type job these days, but when I'm out walking around in the professional district or meeting with a professional, I don't feel that I'm looking particularly aggro or out-of-place.

But then, I'm lucky: I've got strongly colored features already. With a decent haircut, neat clothing, and reasonably well-groomed eyebrows, I look like I'm probably wearing subtle makeup. Just as it's hard to tell when somebody's wearing subtle, skilfully applied makeup, it can be hard to tell when somebody isn't.

I think your larger point stands, though: you never do know. I've learned that one, and how.

Another Damned Medievalist

I am also in the PNW, and am of two minds on this. I do enjoy not having to "dress" for work, and like that heels really aren't necessary. OTOH, I notice that the most respected women on campus (by the students and the admin people, at least) tend to dress up a bit. In my case, the difference really hits when I wear make-up. I don't wear a ton -- foundation to cover the rosacea and lovely adult acne (yes, folks, just pray you only have teen-age zits, because the lovely cystic kind can last past menopause!), mascara, and lipstick. When I'm lucky. This year, every day, plus a bit of shadow. And blazers. You can wear jeans and loafers and get away with it, if you only add make-up and a blazer.

I think it's all just part of a professional woman's uniform. Look authoritative and put-together. No leggings, no frills. No scary make-up, but enough to accentuate the positive and look like you made an effort.

Another Damned Medievalist

Of course, it would all be much easier if we could just wear academic robes (and make-up, if we so desire). But they would have to come up with summer and winter models.

BTW -- I feel better with make-up, but have no trouble going on camping trips where I will be unable to shower or use an actual toilet for days on end (and no, I don't wear make-up then, but do wear lots of sunscreen and still manage contact lenses ... ). It's all about context, innit?


Make up, no make up, I like girls both ways. The only thing I'm squeamish about are the unshaved legs. I've gone out with girls who didn't shave their armpits at various times, and that didn't bother me, but unshaved legs are gross. On the other hand, I don't like the foundation either, when I detect it, when I'm not supposed to at least, but I think that's more of an issue about the concept. In general though, I'm pretty envious of girls' relative freedom to dress up or not. There are lots of hats I'd like to wear, literally, without incurring their ideological commitments.


I'm curious - do spacetoast and the other people-who-are-attracted-to-females who think "unshaved legs are gross" shave their own legs?


I'm afraid that unshaved legs is one of the things that I would find aesthetically unappealing, basically because the shaved leg is one of our culturally taught dividers between the male and female, I could go out with a woman with unshaved legs but the odds of finding one with unshaved legs that yet appealed to me enough as a woman might be miniscule.


Sumana, nah, I don't shave my legs. I don't think anyone would really be interested in my doing so, and I myself know that my preference is discriminatory, unfair, etc.,--in the, imo, extremely weak way that it is--and not something to do with a more beautiful world in which we all have clean shaven legs. I admit I also have a mild second order preference that my first order preference is unprincipled in that sense, but even if I did shave my legs, that would still be the case, so I dunno.


I've taught on.....five different campuses (had to think about that) around and near Seattle, and at each and every one of them it's entirely acceptable and normal for to show up in old jeans and a tee-shirt, and beat-up old sneakers. I usually try to do a little better than that, but not much. I remember to shave about once a week. A fan of the unkempt look, I haven't owned a brush or comb in years. Women on most of these campuses, unfortunately, find they have to do a bit more than this--not because of the expectation of colleagues and higher-ups, but because of the students, who as a group are much less likely to give them the appropriate amount of respect and authority otherwise. But still, not wearing make-up is pretty common, and high-heels are unusual enough to look out of place when you see them.

This is nothing compared to my friends who work at Microsoft. They make fun of men who wear suits and women who wear make-up (when they can tell) for job interviews. (I think you find more traditional office wear the closer you get to Bill Gates, but for most of the vast army of serfs, including some well-established, well into the six-figures types, this is the case). But I also have a friend who works in an office run by Transplanted Texans who have much, much higher expectations for professional dress than most of the town, and she still doesn't wear any make-up.

So I dunno, Belle, I know the PNW is a world apart in many ways, but maybe we're changing the world, too. Which is something to be doubly celebrated. It's a more just world if we can get rid of this mandatory waste of time and money that applies to one gender only, and I'm also in wholehearted agreement with Ogged on the attractiveness on no makeup.

belle waring

I think you guys are overlooking the fact that to East Coasters, almost everyone on the west coast, and certainly everyone in the Pacific Northwest, is just some sub-variant of a great big hippie.

Gary Farber

"I think you guys are overlooking the fact that to East Coasters, almost everyone on the west coast, and certainly everyone in the Pacific Northwest, is just some sub-variant of a great big hippie."

That's an interesting out. :-)

But, yeah, I believe there's a great deal of regionalism to this question, and then there are all the subcultural inter-cuttings, which are a great deal more complex than normal/hippie.

Speaking as someone who lived in Seattle for 8 years, I'll agree that there are a lot more women w/o makeup than with, in office buildings, and as executives.

Ditto, here in Boulder, Colorado, I'm almost hard put to see a woman in make-up; they're comparatively rare. On the other hand, if one is in downtown Chicago, no problem. In my experience, in Manhattan, it's not even a matter of which neighborhood you're in, but what the specific office culture is, as well as the position's culture. Some are complex: I've seen lots of art directors, say, who are styled to the nines, would rarely be caught dead at the office without a fresh, elaborate, hip hairstyle, and ultra-thought-out clothing, but sometimes heels, sometimes not, but still no make-up (but sometimes); the goal is "look how hip I am." In a lot of hip industries these days, make-up and hip seem towards the orthogonal. (Belle, where have you lived in the U.S., elsewhere, and when, if I might ask?)

I don't think dubbing all the various clusterings of women who don't wear make-up as variants of "hippie" is a useful schema, though, and it also invites a less-than-flattering counter-naming of the category of women-who-wear-makeup.

Not that I'm suggesting you need to do a doctoral-level thesis to unpack all the sub-varieties, and what defines them. Though it might be interesting, if well-done and accurate.

(I've seen quite a number of highly attractive women with unshaved legs, and been involved with a couple; I've seen a certain number of women whose unshaved legs were not attractive to me; like most things, I don't find a general rule helpful here, though as a matter of personal preference, others will; to me, it's a matter of how it works on the individual or not; it's like being neither attracted or repelled to all blondes or brunettes, or whatever.)

ben wolfson

Even in, say, La Jolla or Santa Monica?

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