The Hard Facts: She’s Too Sexy

It’s Research Wednesday! Where I share the latest, or most fascinating, in the science of friendship.

“The scorn of the sexy woman is practically ubiquitous among other women, a new University of Ottawa study has found – and showing too much cleavage may just be the surest way to be ostracized from the female circle.” (“How to lose friends and alienate colleagues: Show cleavage, study finds”; The Globe and Mail, 11/22/2011)

It’s silly to think that a little bit of cleavage could determine whether or not we become friends with someone, but according to this new study, once we see a scantily clad female, our claws come out.

Here’s the gist of the research: “Pairs of women were left in a room thinking they were participating in a study on conflict. While they were waiting, an attractive woman wearing provocative clothes entered to talk to another researcher setting up the cameras. The reactions of the women were filmed after she left.” In 44 out of 46 cases, the pairs of women immediately started insulting the girl and laughing at her expense. (When the same woman entered in conservative clothes, most of the participants didn’t even notice her.)

As the author of the study puts it, “we can’t tolerate anyone giving away the milk for free.”

I’ll often hear men claim that their wives check out other women more than they do. I believe it. I notice women when they walk by, and I’ll bet you do too. I’ve always thought that women are especially catty about ladies in sexy outfits due to insecurities. These researchers say it’s more about aggression. It’s that we are engaged, in science speak, in “intrasexual competition.” What they’re saying is that The Bachelor is a microcosm of life, and we’re all just hating on each other until we get the guy.

Blech. I try not to think too much about this. It does nothing to advance the female cause. But I’m not here to agree with the research, I simply report it.

Do you think women are cattiest towards gals in sexy clothing? Does that make it harder to make friends if you dress provocatively?

MWF Seeking BFF comes out in six days! Less than a week! If you pre-order a copy, I’d love to send you a friendship bracelet as a thank you. Just email me, tell me you’ve ordered and that you’d like a bracelet. Pre-orders are great because they contribute to a book’s first week of sales, which is the most important week. They also help build buzz about a book–always a good thing! Thanks  so so much.

3 Comments

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3 responses to “The Hard Facts: She’s Too Sexy

  1. Thankfully, my hard work at maintaining healthy self-esteem does not allow me to feel threatened or for my insecurities to bloom when in the presence of a sexy dressed woman. I see the way people dress as a form of self-expression and if the woman feels comfortable in what she’s wearing and wants to share that with the world, more power to her! You have to love self-confidence. I believe that’s what really makes a woman sexy.🙂

  2. Erica

    On a possibly-related note: I’ve noticed that when I’m in a getting-to-know-you conversation with another woman, I tend to bring up my boyfriend earlier than seems entirely natural in retrospect, and – without really thinking about it – to emphasize the seriousness of the relationship, even at times when I knew perfectly well that the relationship was doomed. Perhaps part of this instinct is to provide openings for girl-talk – but I think it’s also an unconscious attempt to remove myself from any possibility of competition with the potential friend. If she’s also in a relationship, I’m indirectly telling her that I won’t steal her guy because I have one of my own, and if she’s single I’m telling her that I’m not just hanging out with her because it’s an excuse to drink wine on a weeknight. I think it’s sort of a verbal way of putting on a conservative outfit.

    • This is so interesting because I just did an interview and the woman asked me if other women ever felt competitive with me because they were worried another girl might take away potential guys from them. That thought had never ever occurred to me. But it gets at your same point–I’m married, so I’m not threat in that arena! (I don’t think I really would be anyway but…)

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