When less is more

A study says skimpily-clad girls are judged as less competent. But let's just say they have a purpose.

india Updated: Mar 27, 2012 22:20 IST
Hindustan Times

The goddess Mae West used to say that she spoke two languages: "Body and English". But then, she was what she was at a time when women were women and knew that they were women first and persons later. And she certainly didn't thrive in a world where it takes a scientific study to point out that women use the way they dress to negotiate their way through their professional lives. But the US-based research team did more than just confirm that clothes make a woman. The fact-finders revealed that even young girls in 'sexualised clothing' are perceived to be less competent or intelligent than their more buttoned-up counterparts.

Our first question is: what the hell does one need a pre-teen for to conclude that the perception of the apocryphal 'dumb blonde' exists? It is true that workplaces will think twice about hiring a candidate who 'wears it too high, plunges it too low'. Ask any HR boff and she will tell you that such a worker can be a distraction and could lead to reverse discrimination even when the woman worker in question is good at her job. But post-Madonna (of pop music, as opposed to virginal, fame), the old hyphenation between 'pwetty' and 'ditsy' doesn't quite hold. Some of the smartest cookies in the business can be the more attractive, as Sharon Stone testified to the world at large while holding a cigarette in Basic Instinct.

While Nabokov would had something to say about a psychological test that reviews a pre-teen on psycho-sexual parameters, it seems to be a no-brainer to us that dressing a young girl in a faux suggestive way showcases, at best, pre-teen forms of 'acting adult' and, at worst, idiocy foisted upon her by her guardians. Which, of course, makes us confident about the intelligence levels of parents who make their kids enter dance contest shows on TV. As for grown-up ladies who plop a few buttons, let's just say they have a purpose and know what they are doing. Something that the sharp-as-a-napkin's edge Mae would have thoroughly approved of.

First Published: Mar 27, 2012 22:18 IST