Sunday, October 31, 2010

Oprah, Designer Fashion and Groupthink

I was in the local laundromat a few days ago, and Oprah's talk show happened to be on television there. They were doing a segment where they dress identical twins in the same outfit, one from a top-name designer, the other off-the-rack from wherever, and the audience is supposed to guess which one was designer.

The models were wearing the "little black dress" under a fake fur stole (I guess that's what it's called, it looked like a vest). My eyes were drawn instantly to the model on the right, who looked shapely and confident, as opposed to the other model, whose dress looked, for lack of a better term, flat. Remembering that they were identical twins, it was obvious that I was missing something. I noticed that the shading on the "shapely" model's dress happened to have lighter or darker areas apparently placed for strategic highlights, where the other dress was the same shade throughout. So, you'd think we have a clear winner, right?

Wrong. Oprah then asked the audience to vote by applause for which model was wearing the designer outfit. There was roughly the same amount of applause for each model. The conclusion was that there was no difference, that off-the-rack is just as good as custom design.

At this point, it's all I can do not to start yelling in the laundromat: "You people are nuts! I'm just a guy and I can tell the difference! Look at them! The curves! The shading! Oh, never mind..."

So we have an example of groupthink. It wasn't just Oprah. This was the entire audience deciding that there wasn't a difference, even though the difference was readily apparent. At least that's the charitable interpretation. The worst part is, it's quite possible that all of those people can vote.

I just had to get that off my chest. Thanks for reading.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Whatever Floats Your Boat

Item: a recent article on described things that women wear that annoy men. Apparently single men don't like women who wear outfits that show excessive cleavage, because they're "slutty." Well, I beg to differ. Anyone who has been to a bar more than once knows that what you see isn't necessarily what you get.

Item: I was having lunch in a local sports bar and overheard a conversation between two of the waitresses. They were talking about what types of men they like, and the question arose: "What about chubby?" That this question would even be asked indicates that there's no obvious consensus. That brings me to the point of this article.

We all have our own preferences. Hopefully, we honor those preferences, as opposed to going after what we think we should have. When we deny our preferences in favor of the accepted norms, bad things happen. First, we approach potential partners who don't fit our preferences, but do fit the norms. When this happens, we lose, especially if the potential partners are also interested. Second, because we deny our own preferences, we implicitly deny that others have their own preferences, so we pass up potential partners who would be interested because we assume they wouldn't be, and we lose again.

So what's the answer? Take out your laundry list of qualities you're looking for in a partner, and examine each one to see if it reflects what you really want, or what you think you're supposed to have.