Does society judge you by the clothes that you wear? If you are a woman, do people treat you differently based on your clothes? The answer is, generally, yes. Commenters on a popular Internet forum discussed the topic; some gave examples of personal life experiences to illustrate the points they sought to impart to readers and other people who are part of the discussion.
1. Blonde Hair Gets Attention
Many women said there was a noticeable difference in the way people (especially men) treat them based on how they dye their hair. This is especially true when they would go from blonde to brunette. One woman said, “When my hair was blonde/silver I got a LOT of unwanted male attention. Now that it’s dark brown again it’s like I’m invisible lol.” Another woman agreed and said, “Same. I am blonde right now and people are nicer.”
2. Wear White, Get Treated Like A Queen
You might think that most stories would impart a negative experience, but not all do. While some don’t think twice about wearing all black frequently, it’s much rarer that people wear an all-white ensemble. One of those rare individuals said, “I get treated like royalty when I wear all white, which I suppose I do more often than most people. But people will move out of my way or half-bow to me.”
3. Different Women, Different Treatment
In discussing how women can be treated differently based on what they wear, a woman of color told how the treatment she received diverged from what could be considered normal. She said, “I’m a woman of color, petite, and younger than most of my coworkers. People treat me VERY differently based on what I wear because that changes how they believe they can treat me.”
She gave examples of how this works, “when I am dressed up, hair done. With a nicer bag, accessories, etc., I have fewer problems with people talking down to me or ignoring me.”, “I am dressed casually but in athleisure (lululemon fits); people talk to me like I am younger than my age, but I am not actively mistreated.”
Finally, when “if I am wearing no visible brand names and am dressed casually, I am very often ignored, talked over, just treated like I am invisible.”
4. Do People Treat You Differently When Your Clothes Fit Differently?
One other observation made by a woman was that as she has aged and gained weight, she has noticed the difference in how people react toward her. “People, including other women, are much more shallow over 10 pounds. That’s crazy to me. So maybe people are like, did she prioritize gastropubs over designer shoes? The answer is yes.” But I don’t know why we can’t still be friendly in passing because we have different priorities.
A different person stated the opposite of this reaction: “The inverse of this is I lost ten pounds once and went from slightly overweight to “normal.” I still wore the same clothes, but I guess they fit better. Suddenly, my sourpuss male neighbor, who NEVER spoke to me before other than to complain about noise, was chatting me up in the elevator and complimenting my bag.”
5. Medical Treatment Dictated By Your Clothes?
Several users noted that doctors treated them better if they dressed up. It was the same whether or not they were there for treatment for a life-threatening disease or a less severe condition; they felt that they were listened to or required to submit to unnecessary tests. A cancer patient said, “When I was diagnosed with cancer, I had to go to many different doctors alone (since my husband and friends all had to work.)
I dressed in business casual and noticed the doctors took me more seriously and didn’t talk down to me.” Another woman said, “I also spent some time, over a decade ago, researching what was written about medical biases regarding gender and socioeconomics, both online and in books written by medical professionals.
I read an excerpt from a book on women’s healthcare written by a woman doctor who is a proponent of the stereotype that various women’s health issues are psychosomatic, stemming from ’emotional trauma'” and “She has patient case studies in this book and in one chapter gives this horrible description of how she viewed a patient who was a working-class woman.
She demeaned her patient (in the book, not in person, fortunately) for wearing blue jeans and sweatshirts to her medical appointments.”
6. Do Bright Colors Attract Interest?
It’s not just the fit or the type of clothing that figures into how people treat women based on what they wear, but color. We’ve already shown how white affects a person’s perception, but how do other colors affect that view of women? A user said, “When I wear bright colors, people go out of their way to talk to me, which is unfortunate because I love wearing bright colors, and I hate meeting people!”
Yet another woman said, “Do you see a difference in the colors you wear? Every female has a different look and vibe that works for them. And it probably depends on the area as well. But I feel I get more male attention when I wear pastels.”
7. Dress “Feminine,” Get More Male Attention
If you wear a dress or skirt, you will likely be treated better and get more attention, especially from men. No surprise there, but it is good to acknowledge this. Take it from this woman who switches to wearing thermals when it gets cold in winter, “I tend to wear skirts and dresses more underneath to offset my thermal tights.
So I look more feminine in winter and consequently get more preferential treatment. I wish I could pull off something similar in summer!” She got an answer from a different user on switching to wearing dresses during summer months, “Sundresses and wedges! I am a mom to toddler twins, probably haven’t slept in 3 years, and am usually a leggings + shirt gal.
Once in a blue moon, I run out of clean clothes and throw on one of my sundresses with wedges. I get so many compliments even though I still have the same baggy eyes and my hair in a mom bun.”
8. Do Androgenous Looks Affect How People Perceive You?
How are women with androgynous looks judged, and is that perception colored by what they wear? This androgyne responded to the thread and said, “I’m somewhat androgynous looking. When I have dressed fem[inine], I am often complimented, catcalled, leered at, etc.
And when I’m dressed masc[uline], I am stared at, but not in a sexual way, in a scary way.”
9. Glasses Still Send Messages
Yes, this situation has stayed the same. People wearing glasses have learned that eyewear sends a powerful and positive message. Celebrities use this subliminal message during interviews to change their perception of their intelligence. This bespectacled woman observed, “I swear people treat me better if I wear my glasses.
They think, even subconsciously, that I must be smart because I wear glasses.” Yet another woman found that glasses and more casual clothes spared her aggressive male attention, “I wore a tight skirt, tank top, my contacts, and my hair down to the grocery store and had a man follow me around.
Another man asked me out. I saw the man at the store the next week in my socially acceptable pajamas and glasses, and he didn’t look at me twice.”
10. Are Sunglasses Intimidating?
Do sunglasses change how people perceive you? They do! Usually, people who are blind or who have other serious eye problems wear sunglasses indoors. In the forum, a woman who wears sunglasses for medical reasons said, “I’ve recently had to start wearing sunglasses inside due to extreme light sensitivity.
I want to know who gets cataracts at 28, and I’m genuinely enjoying the peace. People stare at the glasses for a sec, and you can almost hear them thinking, “Is she blind? She’s staring back,” and then totally avoid you.”
11. Do Piercings Change People’s Perceptions of You?
Specifically, three users talked about how a septum ring affects how people react to them. A stay-at-home mom stated, “I wear it at home because it’s home. But when I put on sunscreen on my way out, I flip it up, and it stays hidden until I’m home again. When visible, the jerks think it’s okay to be disrespectful or rude.”
Another woman responded, “[In] certain settings, it’s totally fine, but if I’m doing something “expensive,” like checking into a nice hotel or shopping at a luxury store, I always flip it up. It absolutely affects the service I get, which is pretty funny because I got it 15 years ago and am a corporate sellout now.”
This septum ring fan uses the jewelry to test people, “Yeah, people can be seriously judgy about those. I’ve had a septum ring for about a decade (the early thirties), and I leave it flipped down 24/7. It’s my test to see if I want to be around someone.”
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