This past weekend, my husband and I had the pleasure of hosting long-time friends who came to our neighborhood to meet the parents of their soon-to-be daughter-in-law. Sharon and I have been friends since first grade, while my husband and David’s close relationship goes back to 1978. The sensitive among you will refrain from examining the math too closely to discover exactly how many years have gone by. Suffice it to say, our conversations range far and wide.
When we were out walking on Sunday, Sharon and I chatted about needing to buy clothing to adjust to east coast winters. The topic arose of how zippers on women’s clothing used to be hidden. In fact, learning how to insert invisible zippers was the bane of sixth grade sewing class. We observed that nowadays zippers feature prominently as integral parts of clothing design. When we concurred that the fashion industry constantly changes, thereby encouraging women to buy new clothing every year, it became clear that the men were listening to our conversation.
“It’s sweet how naive you are,” one of them said while the other nodded his head.
If you asked me to name four adjectives that describe me, I don’t think that naive would be among my choices. There is much, like profanity, that I choose not to allow into my life, but I’m aware that many things of which I disapprove exist in our society and are rampant. Yet, I had no idea that zippers could present a hidden message that completely eluded me.
During our friends’ visit, David, who is a passionate music lover, explained sonata form to us. While my husband and I may enjoy listening to classical music, David ‘gets it’ on an entirely different level. Similarly, he recently shared a video analyzing the artist Vermeer’s masterpieces in a way that completely magnified my appreciation of the painter and his work. Now, it seemed that I also needed him to help me take a deeper look at women’s fashion as well.
According to the men in our lives, Sharon and I were naive for not recognizing that wide, prominent zippers on women’s clothing send a message to men saying, “Unzip here.” While this may not be meant to be taken literally, subconsciously men’s imaginations are being directed to think of whatever is beneath the impossible-to-miss zip. Certainly, the fashion industry wants women to wear this season’s clothes and tries to make those clothes easily identifiable. That is why different seasons feature different colors, lengths, styles and patterns. I knew that clothes portray an image, whether the sophisticated and feminine look of Kate Middleton or the, masculine look of women’s power suits in the 1980s, and that the styles match the times. Was I completely missing more subtle clues and messages?
I have long been mystified by the woman who wears a cleavage-revealing top while asserting that she wants to be judged by her mind. The balance between dressing in an attractive vs. seductive manner is one that leads some women to look frumpy while others err in the opposite direction. Yet, if men, who know more about men’s reactions than I do are right, there’s messaging going on that I hadn’t even begun to consider. Are they right?
Many other hidden messages are being given all the time. Right now, you can save money while learning to recognize the messages of socialism disguised as compassion and fairness. Find it all in ancient Jewish wisdom’s exploration of nine verses of Genesis.
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