Why do I take a ‘male’ approach to dressing up? Because I’m an ace.

This is a contribution for the May 2013 Carnival of Aces: Appearances.

In both Taiwan and the United States, young women are expected to dress up and look nice and appealing, whereas young men are only expected to dress for comfort and cleanliness (and sometimes not even cleanliness).

As I’ve discussed before, I do ‘femme’ up my appearance for work, but generally participate in fashion like a young man rather than a young woman – I dress for comfort and cleanliness, not for attractiveness.

I even approach the special occasions when I do want to increase my visual appeal more like a man than a woman. Women are allowed to look like they are trying to look more attractive, while men have to look more attractive WITHOUT looking like they are trying.

Take make-up for example. It’s OK if a woman looks like she’s using make-up to improve her appearance, but it’s not OK for a man to look like he’s using make-up to improve his appearance. Therefore, a man has to be much more careful and subtle in his use of make-up.

When I wear make-up, I approach it like a man, even though I know that, as a woman, I am socially allowed to apply make-up more bluntly. I used to say that it was because I enjoyed the challenge of improving my appearance without the make-up being obvious … but that’s not the truth. The truth is that I don’t want people to think that I am using make-up to improve my appearance. Just like a man.

I think this because I am asexual.

In both Taiwanese and US society, it’s men’s job to initiate sexual encounters, and it’s women’s job to be as sexually appealing as possible so they can attract as wide a set of men as possible. I, however, don’t want to get sexual offers from anybody. Therefore, I do not want people to think I am putting effort into increasing my visual appeal, even when that is exactly what I’m doing.

Even when I deliberately make my appearance more feminine for work, my target is to look more feminine, not more attractive. Unfortunately, that’s considered a bit of a contradiction since part of being feminine in the mainstream sense is trying to look attractive, so I often just happen to be more ‘attractive’ just by looking more feminine, but that’s not intentional.

This, by the way, is mostly subconscious for me. I don’t go out thinking ‘I am going to approach fashion more like a young man than a young woman’. It just comes naturally to me. Actually making my appearance look feminine, or deliberately trying to increase my visual appeal, is what requires a deliberate choice on my part. And I think it comes naturally because that is how my asexuality expresses itself.


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4 thoughts on “Why do I take a ‘male’ approach to dressing up? Because I’m an ace.

  1. Pingback: Carnival of Aces: Appearances | The Asexual Agenda

  2. Huh…I think I disagree here. From both my experience and what I have heard from others, heterosexual males typically prefer heterosexual females who they think do not put a great deal of time into their appearance. Don’t get me wrong–the female is supposed to be gorgeous, but not ‘high maintenance’. As far as I can figure, the goal is to achieve what a professional makeup artist would in under five minutes using nothing but ketchup and a rusty spoon. This is a dichotomy in and of itself. You’re right to say that it’s more socially acceptable for girls than guys to admit to vanity(girls can do eyeshadow, guys are laughed at if they stray outside foundation), but both are considered shallow–that is, when it comes to makeup. Keep in mind that the clothing of a male is in no way irrelevant to said male. Guys know. And guys know that guys know; it’s why they treat a male in cargo shorts, socks, sandals, and glasses different than a male wearing whatever they think is cool. It’s the reason that they don’t show up in socks and sandals themselves. It seems to me that society grants both males and females the right to care about their clothing. Makeup, however, goes in a category with bodybuilding. Guys are encouraged to be muscly, but they’re supposed to achieve it through real-world tasks; a man receives brownie points for building muscle while building a shed, while one who talks continually about his macrobiotic diet is shunned by his fellow males. Makeup and fitness are different than clothing because of this; clothing is a cover. You can change your cover without someone considering you vain. But both makeup and fitness are attempts to give someone a different impression about your genetic structure. Symmetrical face=good immune system, .7 waist-hip ratio=high fertility in females. But again, you’re right–while I will contend that both males and females are disparaged for chattering about their diet or taking too long in the bathroom in the mornings, females are less disparaged for it than males. But I think I will disagree with you about the reason for this; it has less to do with traditional gender roles and more to do with current ones.
    Consider the last few commercials you have watched; the wife is responsible. The husband can do no more than belch and spill his chili onto his shirt, causing the wife to need to buy more fabric softener(downy plus!!!). Again, the human race has every reason on earth to hate the gym and makeup, since they both give false impressions about what the progeny of an individual would be like, and cause people to make evolutionarily unsound choices about their potential mate. So I will equate the fact that women can get away with a bit more time in the bathroom with the fact that she is expected to buy fabric softener; currently, our societal standards demand that women be responsible, and men unintelligent.

    Being an aesexual myself, and one who’s never been into the concept of procreation, I now get to skip on into my life and ignore everything I’ve just said as it, pertains to myself, because evolution and I aren’t so hot on each other.

  3. Ah … the last few commercials I have seen were in Japanese, and I do not remember (or perhaps never knew) what they were about.

    It is true that there are *cool* clothing styles (and hairstyles) for males as well … but in my observation, males who dress for comfort are still more socially accepted than girls who do the same (I am not necessarily talking about who people want to date – a lot of the pressure on females to dress/make up comes from other females).

  4. Pingback: Appearance linkspam – cinderace blogs

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