If a girl talks about her personal style for more than ten minutes, I promise you that she will say, “I dress for other women, not men.” Not dolling up for men is a law we carried down on a tablet from the top of Girl Mountain. Yet many girls believe dressing for other ladies will keep us abstinent for the rest of our lives; we must either choose fashion and celibacy or clothes we hate that will bring the boys to the yard.
I’ve never believed that wearing a gemstone collar is the equivalent to throwing a garland of tampons around my neck. Miley Cyrus replaced her extensions with a knock-off Robyn haircut and landed on the top spot of the Maxim Hot 100 list, and even Leandra Medine—the Man Repeller blogger who documents her eccentric outfits that are supposedly too kooky to give dudes boners—got married. Even in our sex lives, I thought we could lean in and be the self-empowered bad bitches we were born to be. But at the same time, part of me has always wondered if girl code was right.
So I signed up for Tinder, the heterosexual equivalent to Grindr, to find out.
For those heteros who have yet to step into the 21st century and use their iPhones to hook-up, Tinder is an app for people looking for an easy lay. The app allows users to upload pictures of themselves and then quickly approve or deny other users based on their profile pictures. Once mutual approval occurs, users can send each other messages. Like a teenager catfishing a classmate to land on MTV, I created two Tinder profiles: one in which my profile picture showed me as a girl dressing for other girls and another that showed me styled as a girl trying to make the bros holler.
For my girly look, I created an outfit that can best be described as “Pebbles Flintstone if she joined the cast of Gallery Girls.” I threw my hair up into a topknot (the signature style of fashionable women), swiped on dark red lipstick, and accessorized with a polka-dot collar, rhinestone necklace, and earrings made of gold shark teeth. I felt cute and confident, as girls tend to do when they dress for other women.
I approved the first 250 men who popped up and then waited to see who took the bait.
Slowly, responses trickled in. Although several men liked me, few tried to initiate chat. About 30 responded over a three-day period, and the guys who liked me tended to have foreign and exotic names, which, since I’m a white chick from Boston, made me feel quite sophisticated.
The few who spoke to me were fairly flattering, though.
To engineer my guy-oriented look, I asked guys their preferences on Facebook. Most guys refuted commonly held stereotypes of what men find attractive, saying they hated high heels and makeup. While I found this refreshing, I didn’t believe them. Most men simply fail to notice makeup on a woman unless she’s painted on a Lil Kim death mask. Still, I chose to go fairly subtle with the guy-look: bronzy makeup, a simple tank top, my hair curly, and no accessories that looked like they came from a Mattel jewelry box. I also posed throwing my best duck face, which is taboo in girl world because duck faces scream, “I WANT A MAN TO LIKE THIS.”
Within 12 hours of posting my second selfie, more men messaged me than had responded to my other selfie in three days. I am not exaggerating when I say that 25 percent of these men were named Pat.
Their messages went way beyond the pale.
Needless to say these offers did not get me hot and bothered, but I showed the messages to a gay friend and he was delighted. “No one even sends me stuff that lewd on Grindr!”
It wasn’t that men didn’t voice attraction when I dressed for girls. They were just a lot more responsive when I played into their hands. I guess it’s that simple to get a guy’s attention.
But I’m not sure I want this attention. Maybe we need a separate social media app—an all girl, asexual Tinder where women can approve or deny each others outfits, matching to discuss where they bought their shoes or how they achieve their Heidi braids. That kind of attention sounds more satisfying to me.