Making A Good First Impression On A First Date Is Not’ Dishonest,’ It’s Normal

Earlier this week I wrote a post sharing my thoughts on a recent Salon article on dating in a pushup bra. The gist of my post was that I don’t think wearing a pushup bra is a big deal. Like makeup, high heels, clothing, etc, pushup bras are just another weapon in our accessories arsenal, no more dishonest than bright red lipstick or a smoky eye. An excerpt:

And really, what isn’t a little dishonest about the dating process? When I was dating I wore makeup, high heels, clothing that hid my problem areas and accentuated my assets. How is wearing a bra with a little oomph worse? Most partners could care less once they have you in bed anyway, or at least that is the common saying.

I think my words might have come off wrong to some people. Earlier today, I read a post from Caro from The Lingerie Lesbian (whose blog I am a huge fan of). Regarding the above quote she wrote:

Doesn’t it seem somewhat ludicrous that certain clothes are ‘honest’ and certain clothes are ‘dishonest’?

Now, I want to start off by saying that I in no way meant that pushup bras, or anything else are particularly dishonest. You aren’t “lying” to some person you’re dating by wearing them. My point was that a pushup bra, like the aforementioned bright red lipstick, adds something to your look. Heck, the entire dating process is about putting yourself in the best possible light. Some people may interpret that as “dishonest,” and I was poking a bit of fun at that idea. Honestly, I was a little baffled at her interpretation:

“The ickiness of the phrase ‘problem areas’ aside, this quote seems to be saying that there would have been more honesty if she had worn clothes that emphasized ‘problem areas’ and ignored ‘assets.’ But that doesn’t seem to make any sense– that sounds like honesty is making yourself look the way you don’t want to look.”

I thought it was pretty clear that I didn’t mean anything like this, but I guess it wasn’t. Of course I don’t think a woman has to downplay herself to be “honest” on a date. My point is that pretty much everyone puts in a little more effort than usual when they’re going on a date. This is true of both women and men. Whether that effort is makeup, nail polish, a spiffy new tie, a new pair of shoes, a sharp suit etc. Men and women go the extra mile on dates, and probably won’t be putting in that same work five years into the relationship (at least not on a daily basis). I loved dressing up for dates with my husband, but I also love watching Scandal with him in my yoga pants and college t-shirt.

Another point I want to make, is that I am in no way advocating or encouraging women to hide “problem areas.” I have written numerous times here on The Gloss and at our sister site Mommyish about my body issues. I said I was hiding MY problem areas and accentuating MY assets. Why is it that whenever a woman discusses a personal issue (how they view their bodies, they style choices, their parenting choices, etc. etc. ad nauseum) it suddenly becomes something people take as a personal affront to their own choices or issues? I refuse to be body shamed into pretending these issues I have with myself don’t exist.

Dating in general is all about putting your best foot forward, and to me that could very well mean putting on a pushup bra, the way the author of the Salon piece Delatorre does. To be 100 percent “honest” (if you’re going to look at it that way, and I really don’t) you wouldn’t wear clothes that “emphasized ‘problem areas’ and ignored ‘assets,’ you would wear your regular, knocking around sweats and t-shirts. Whatever you wear to do your grocery shopping or dog walking in. That would be the most accurate portrayal of what you look like on a daily basis. But what would be the fun in that. Half the fun of a first date is deciding what to wear and putting a look together, and I think this is true for both men and women. And as one of Caro’s own commenters said in her post, “We are not natural, nobody is, and there’s nothing wrong with that! “

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    • Lindsey Conklin

      Very well said!!

    • LingerieLesbian

      Great post! Thanks for the clarification :).

    • Elizabeth

      This is mostly related (and very indicative of my recent mindset): I’ve been thinking a lot about how we create value with presentation.

      I’ve been on a bit of a knitting kick recently, so I decided to open a little Etsy shop. Before I set my prices, I did a lot of poking around to see what other people charged for similar items. I found scarves that were sold at a cost that barely covered the materials advertised with bathroom iPhone selfies, scarves sold at about twice that price displayed on dress-forms and advertised with point-and-shoot pictures, and scarves sold for much more than I ended up charging with photos that didn’t seem significantly better than the point-and-shoot bargain scarves.

      Now, there was definitely a difference in quality, but it didn’t seem to justify the radically different prices. I decided that my product was of a good enough quality to justify the price I wanted to set for it (I use a few different techniques to set my work apart from others, and I’d like to think I’m pretty good at what I do!). But: the photography must reflect the price point. So I took my boyfriend’s very nice camera and spent an obsessively long time styling my products and editing the photos and overall creating the world that a $37 scarf lives in. (My shop is called Partridge Road if you’re interested in looking, by the way.)

      All that rambling brings me to the point: That we all create our own value with the way that we present ourselves. A $37 scarf isn’t worth $37 because that’s how much the yarn costs. You could sell the same tank top in Forever 21 and Urban Outfitters and White House/Black Market for three completely different prices, because each of those places is styled differently and creates their own world of relative value. And, as it relates to the dressing-up-for-a-date question, neither sweatpants nor a slinky little dress are inherently dishonest, but they do create different values for the wearer. There’s nothing wrong with creating a persona with our clothing choices.

      (Just to clarify: I know that the way I phrased this might sound problematic. A woman wearing yoga pants and an old t-shirt is ABSOLUTELY just as valuable as a woman in wearing designer clothing, and everyone should dress however they feel the most comfortable on a date or otherwise! For me, there are many reasons I might wear a particular outfit: comfort, because a certain dress code is expected, because I’m trying to create a certain persona. That said, I don’t at all believe that anyone “should” dress a certain way on a first date!)