This is yet another follow up article! In fact, this is an explanation for the earlier articles and my stance on dressing up!! There was a strong feedback from a reader. She was very upset with the articles and me. She quoted Chain around the neck and asked what is wrong in wearing jewelry or dressing up for a loved one; quoted Blame Game and asked what is wrong with using cosmetics; she quoted Minimalistic decision making and asked what is wrong in spending more time shopping if that can give relaxation… like an entertainment. She felt offended that I am considering women who dress up or who spend more time in shopping as less equals; she also quoted that women tend to behave this way as they grow up in the ladder and they have a need to prove that they are not "feminine" or they do not have the characteristics of the other women.
My response to all her three "what is wrong" questions, of course there is nothing wrong as long as it is you who consciously decide to do it and it is not out of a compulsion or mandate by someone else or as a result of social conditioning. Don’t I dress up? Of course I do! I do dress up differently for different occasions or environments; my liking towards different types of attire has changed many times over a period.... like all of you! More importantly, I have considered / I do consider the sentiments of loved ones when I wear an attire for a specific occasion. For example, I try to avoid wearing black when my parents are around as they fear that I will fall sick after wearing black. But I do have a quite a number of black in my wardrobe! When I go to work in India, I dress up very formally and it is Indian formals. Off work, I wear western casuals quite a bit. When I visit other countries, I dress up in a way that works for me in that country. When I go to weddings, I wear jewelries and deck myself up. You can easily see the range of variations in clothing from these details.
I think, all of us do have a range! Men do too. I am sure, men also would not like to go to board meetings in shorts and they would go in their choicest formal suit if the meeting matters to them. So the points I raise are not against dressing up suitably for the occasion nor against having a wide range of choices. It is about who decides what is appropriate for an occasion. I believe, women have the necessary intelligence to decide what is appropriate for an occasion and others do not have the right to decide it for them. If someone wears an attire that is traditionally not worn to a specific type of an occasion, that person may feel odd and learn what to wear next time; if they do not find it odd to wear, it is fine too; they will continue to wear it next time too. It is their choice! If someone is willing to let go of this right to decide, I am fine with that too as long as it their conscious decision to let go! My concern is about how the social conditioning is blinding women and making them believe that wearing an extra chain represents their love for their husband or the longevity of his life and they can not wear certain colors depending on whether he is alive or dead. I do not want some one to stop me from wearing my favorite colors because of my marital status or force me into liking pink because I am a woman!
Shopping is the most interesting feedback for me! By all means, if shopping is like an entertainment for someone, they are free to do that as long as their time and budget allows it. My contention was against the inability to take decisions! If someone spends more time in shopping because they are not able to decide which clothe to buy, it is a problem to be fixed or opportunity for improvement! They need to train themselves in taking quicker decisions.
It is about striking the balance between satisficing and maximizing! It is about understanding that all estimation techniques are useful only to an extent. Cost of decision making will depend on cost of information collection. Accuracy of an estimate depends on breadth and depth of information used for the estimation. Without some basic information, no one can estimate. Till about 60% of information, there is good positive correlation between amount of information and accuracy of estimation. But beyond 60% of information, accuracy of estimation does not correlate that very well with amount of information and it fluctuates around the same level. The next peaking of accuracy of estimation happens when we have close to 100% of information.
Ironically, all information is available for estimation only when the activity is completed! Estimation is useless at that point in time! Task is completed anyway! It is the same logic, I am applying for shopping! One needs to learn to take decision with less information except for some very rare scenarios that expect high level of accuracy. If you do not consider shopping as a task to be completed, a decision to be made, and treat it as a recreation, this logic does not apply to you. The logic I use for my recreation will probably be more comparable! Spending a lot of time in decision making is a costly affair in terms of time as well as the amount of energy it can drain from our psychological energy pool. If the returns of that spend is not worth it, do not spend that much is my only recommendation!
Make up interpretation was a shocker to me! I took a decision not to use cosmetics when I was 18 years old in an effort to be eco-friendly! Believe me - yes, to be eco-friendly! I wanted to reduce the chemicals I use. Of course, I do not have control over all the chemicals used in the value chain of all my consumables. But wherever possible, I wanted to reduce chemicals! Definitely not due to the fact was I was going up in the corporate ladder :-)! I was not even in the corporate world when I took that decision! In fact I did not even know that such a thing called corporate world exists!
More over, I do not use chemical cosmetics does not mean that I do not like things like henna. Not many people would have seen my nails without the color of henna / maruthani! I do take time do it. In the middle of the night, after all my calls are over, I spend 10-15 mins to apply maruthani about once in two weeks! In Blame-game article, I did not mean to promote "no-cosmetics" idea. When someone is not used to do something for a long time, doing that activity will not be perfect, will take more time, will not feel good and they may feel that they are clumsy! At least, I felt I was very clumsy with these things and I did not like the stickiness of the moisturizer! This is my only point! :-)
Coming back the "less equals" feedback, all I am saying in these articles is, I do not want any one to generalize and influence how women behaved generally or a specific woman behaved all thru her life. In fact, I am against any & all generalizations and tagging people to these generalizations! All of us change, all of us have choices, and all of us are free to exercise those choices with an eye for improving ourselves constantly! I do not claim to be better than other women!! To me, there is nothing called as "better than others"! Each one is unique and precious, if you care to be one, that is!