New Year's Eve night out: Why what women wear actually matters

Jazz already made a compelling case to avoid a night out altogether — and, to this day, my best New Year’s Eve memories involve watching M*A*S*H reruns with my parents until midnight and then skipping down the hall to go to sleep. But a chic party is fun, too, especially if it compels frequently-pajama-clad bloggers to dress festively. So, I’ll be the chipper to Jazz’s chill — and celebrate with those of you who do plan to go out on the town tonight. I hope y’all have a ball!

At the same time, though, I can’t help but implore my fellow females to aim for “pretty” and not “hot” tonight. Let me explain. Truthfully, I didn’t plan to write about this. We’re not a fashion blog — and, by and large, I don’t think what folks wear does matter. But, this morning, I read a brief blog post headlined “The Death of Pretty” — and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. This is a rather long excerpt, but it’s too good to not be shared (the whole piece is worth your time, too!):

Pretty, pretty is dying.

People will define pretty differently.  For the purposes of this piece, I define pretty as a mutually enriching balanced combination of beauty and projected innocence.

Once upon a time, women wanted to project an innocence.  I am not idealizing another age and I have no illusions about the virtues of our grandparents, concupiscence being what it is.  But some things were different in the back then.  First and foremost, many beautiful women, whatever the state of their souls, still wished to project a public innocence and virtue.  And that combination of beauty and innocence is what I define as pretty.

By nature, generally when men see this combination in women it brings out their better qualities, their best in fact.  That special combination of beauty and innocence, the pretty inspires men to protect and defend it.

Young women today do not seem to aspire to pretty, they prefer to be regarded as hot. Hotness is something altogether different.  When women want to be hot instead of pretty, they must view themselves in a certain way and consequently men view them differently as well.

As I said, pretty inspires men’s nobler instincts to protect and defend.  Pretty is cherished. Hotness, on the other hand, is a commodity.  Its value is temporary and must be used.  It is a consumable.

Nowhere is this pretty deficit more obvious than in our “stars,” the people we elevate as the “ideal.”  The stars of the fifties surely suffered from the same sin as do stars of today.  Stars of the fifties weren’t ideal but they pursued a public ideal different from today.

It’s so true — and it’s so sad. Every so often, a feminist will attempt to prove that femininity is a social construct. She’ll give her daughter a fire truck to play with and her son a Barbie doll — and, lo and behold, the little girl will wrap the truck in a baby blanket and rock it back and forth, while the little boy will force his Barbie dolls to fight. Femininity isn’t a social construct; it’s the natural complement to masculinity, written into our very bodies — and the two in combination civilize the wide world to lay the resources of the earth at the feet of even children.

Little girls gravitate to pretty. The success of the Disney princess franchise proves that. Even Sophia Grace Brownlee, the eight-year-old YouTube sensation who raps singer Nikki Minaj’s “Super Bass” word for word, appears in a tutu and tiara. But, somewhere between childhood and adulthood — or, sadly, sometimes in the midst of childhood — girls begin to think it’s an embarrassment to be innocent, to be naive.

It’s not an insult to be called naive, though — not really. The first definition of the word is “having or showing unaffected simplicity of nature or absence of artificiality.” What’s wrong with that? To encounter the natural and artless — to escape cynicism and ugliness — is to be refreshed. Yes, it’s foolish to ignore ugliness — for it’s real and revealing. But we have such a limited amount of time in a day: Why not look to the beautiful, the good, the true at least as often as we look to anything else?

Nothing reveals the time constraint on our lives quite like the passage of a year and the commencement of a new one — and even something as simple as what we wear reflects what we intend to do with our time. In 2012, will we build up or tear down? Will we strive for what is lastingly meaningful or temporarily gratifying? Will we be pretty or just hot?