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About clothes and men: an interview with a psychologist on a topic I don’t write about

At the end of December, I got the idea to talk to someone really competent about a topic that, whether you like it or not, POPs up in every second (in fact, every first) discussion about fashion. In my blog, as you know, I don’t raise the topic of what the opposite sex likes (or doesn’t like). On the comment “what will men think?!”I try not to answer or respond in a lapidary way (although it doesn’t always work, so I take out an imaginary checker and start waving it around, telling them that there are too many opportunities in the XXI century to waste energy on an imaginary beauty contest in front of imaginary men).

I am genuinely outraged by articles (and even books!) about how to dress to please men. A greater concentration of nonsense on a paragraph of text can not be found, perhaps, even in the books of Vadim Zeland. Outraged questions from interviewers, who do not care whether the audience of their publication will open a new door, a new opportunity in life, after reading the thoughts of professionals, or will be left to suffer and rush around in a tight cage of “folk wisdom” and “so it is accepted”. (I do not even stutter about the format “but we will ask an unknown singer Vasya what he thinks about women’s outfits”). And the unfortunate professional still has to answer the question “what to do to get married, and not to undergo a course of therapy instead”. And he, having turned from the professional path, also begins to give not devoid of meaning, but difficult to access in practical execution of advice such as “stop wanting to get married” (well, how will she stop if she wants with all her heart?). We will not point fingers on the principle of ” don’t criticize, take it and make it better.”
Thank you Cosmopolitan, which gave me the opportunity to do not better, but in a different way: choose the hero of the interview and ask him very different questions. I talked to Andrey Yudin, a psychologist and author of brilliant columns in SNC. (If you’re interested, my favorite is “Why doesn’t a boyfriend replace a psychologist”). Here and here is the published material in two parts. And below I give the full author’s version of the interview, before the Cosmo editing, which, admittedly, was minimal, for which I thank them again.

WANDA: Andrey, I will start without Preface, if you will allow me. Your articles are amazing. From a psychologist’s column in a glossy magazine, you expect more of a soothing purr. You offer the reader, in fact, to completely change the picture of the world, and even warn that the process of change, to put it mildly, will not be covered with delicate rose petals. Do you believe that five thousand printed characters can change the reader’s mind?

ANDREY: I definitely don’t have any Ambitions to change someone’s picture of the world just by writing a column in a magazine: I believe this is impossible. The maximum effect that I expect is that after reading my article, some part of the audience will no longer be satisfied with someone else’s prepared answers to important life questions, will start looking into themselves and slowly looking for their own. Sometimes it works.

Q: I’m starting to believe in the possibility of a paradigm shift with the help of articles. I write about fashion, and, much to my surprise, I get a lot of comments that, after reading my articles, someone threw away their entire outdated wardrobe, someone looked at themselves with new eyes, someone allowed themselves to combine clothes in a way that was previously feared or shy, or did not even assume that it was possible. There is no, of course write and something like “Yes as you dare impose its view, and taste you have and at all there is no.”

A: I think this is a good sign. When you write something important and worthwhile for a large enough audience, it always causes strong and, as a rule, polar feelings. And there will always be a few readers who will take what you wrote as a deep personal insult.

Q: So I’m writing to a fairly large audience (laughs). But let’s move on to clothes. Look here. I write exclusively about fashion and style, not about men. I don’t even touch on borderline topics like “how to dress for a date.” But here you will write “in fashion oversize” and “intellectual sexuality” (that is, not the cleavage to the navel and mini, ending right under the buttocks), and in the comments will be: “men do not like this”, “and will I look pale against the background of girls who emphasize their charms?”, “I love this style, but men need something else”, “men on a date do not expect a girl to come in a bag of potatoes”. Why do you think this is happening?

A.: There may be very different reasons behind such reactions. Usually they are caused by the picture of the world, the life philosophy that has developed in a person. It consists of many different bricks. Most of them are somehow tied to parental messages or cultural stereotypes, behavior approved by society: every “good” woman must marry at a certain age, give birth to children, and for this you need to like men, and men like femininity. All this construction seems to its owner reinforced concrete, indestructible and absolutely logical — but exactly as long as no one really looked at it. In fact, the picture of the world, built on someone else’s experience, is always extremely contradictory and unstable. A person feels that if one of the bricks wobbles, and now the whole building is at risk of collapsing. And when you ask women to wear something more modern, relaxed, without a direct goal to please the opposite sex, whether you want it or not — you affect the whole system of views. Because if you can dress the way I like, and not some spherical men in a vacuum, then maybe you can not listen to your mother? And do not get married until 30, 40 years, or even at all? And live the way I want to? The system is shaky, the woman is nervous, she is afraid to give up the familiar and familiar.

Q: You say that liking men is socially acceptable behavior. What about the instincts of nature?

A.: Household rumors about what is inherent in human nature are greatly exaggerated and have nothing to do with science. Man differs from most animals in that his behavior is determined to a very low degree by genetics and to a very high degree by upbringing. For example, people who were isolated from society for many years after birth (for example, Mowgli people) were almost incapable of social adaptation and resembled wild animals rather than people. The desire to find a partner for mating, of course, is biologically determined, as is the ability of a person to look for different ways to solve this problem, but the desire to receive signs of attention from a large number of men is in its purest form a socially conditioned behavior that a person can learn only by living among people.

Q: Listen, here we are, following my readers, “men, men, like men.” Not someone in particular, but as if all the men in the world who need to be liked, so that the proverbial stacks are formed. In this case, we are not talking about the fact that, for example, Sveta wants to please Seryozha, nothing like that. Sveta just wants to please men. Two won’t suit her, for example, or one? Why do girls put it this way?

A.: first of all, this is again a stable stereotype: that a woman must be liked by a large number of men, and only in this case she has the right to feel like a “real woman”. Second, it may be a lack of self-esteem and a sense of self-worth. About narcissistic elements of character that everyone has to some extent.

Q: what does self-love have to do with it?

A.: in psychology, narcissism is not self-love, but an unconscious habit of seeking confirmation of one’s value from the outside. The essence of narcissism is not that I like myself very much, but that I am split into two poles: I either hate myself or consider myself almost a genius. If I somehow manage to get external “confirmations” of my importance, success — I feel triumph, and if not — I fall into self-flagellation and experience the associated suffering. A person lives constantly in anxiety: “will you be able to find external nourishment, confirmation of your goodness today or not?”. The habit of receiving confirmation of their value from the outside, most often, is formed in the childhood and adolescence, when parents teach the child that their attitude depends on the results of his activities. Most people in our country are brought up in this destructive paradigm: “I will be good if…(I get an “a”, get a job, buy a car, people will like me)”. Accordingly, when a person finds himself in a social situation, in any, starting from kindergarten, what is he trying to do? He is trying to somehow influence the environment in such a way that he is praised, shown attention. And through this, he somehow lets go, the anxiety for a while eases. Admiring glances from men and the attention of friends like “Oh, how good you are in this dress” — this is also such a narcissistic reinforcement that allows you to muffle painful doubts about yourself for a while.

Q: how do those same men feel when they meet a woman who tries to please all men in General? That is, the need to like, to enter into a relationship, to love, it does not occur after meeting such a wonderful man, but long before? It doesn’t cause feelings, there are already feelings.

A: I think men usually avoid women with a preset set of programs.

Q: Why?

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