Sunday, May 15, 2011

In the Eyes of the Beholders

"Leah Garchik informed us in her syndicated column on San Francisco Chronicle that
Danielle Steele told the Wall Street Journal, which describes her as "newly Parisian," that she has left San Francisco.

"San Francisco is a great city to raise children, but I was very happy to leave it. There's no style, nobody dresses up - you can't be chic there. It's all shorts and hiking boots and Tevas - it's as if everyone is dressed to go on a camping trip. I don't think people really care how they look there; and I look like a mess when I'm there, too."
I am afraid that I have to agree with her and I do find that not only San Franciscans look way too casual, myself included, its much praised beauty is overrated too.  San Francisco is surrounded by natural beauty of a specific kind and if it's your thing then you are in heaven; if not, you will find yourself trapped.

However, San Francisco does have legions of its defenders, on fashion front and on the beauty front.

It all depends on the perception and reaction of the beholders.

The comments by Steel reminded me a very interesting anecdote.

Danielle Steel, the romantic novel and New York Time best seller, is known for her novels concentrating on the rich and the famous and had a huge followings, particularly women, had at least one of her novels branded as pornography by Chinese censors.  That "pornography" book was Family Album.  Wikipedia described is thus:
The novel came out in March 1985 published by Random House. The novel tells the story of Faye Price (later Thayer), since World War II to her death in present day. It relates her professional life as an actress in Hollywood's golden era to finally becoming one of the first female directors in Hollywood. But more important to her is her family life, from her marriage, the birth of her children, separations and reconciliations with her husband, the struggles to raise her children, and the problems they go through once grown up until, in the end, they come through stronger from the ordeal.
Yet, for Chinese authorities, in 1990s, the book was inundated with sex, drugs, hippies, free love, homosexuality, protests, Viet Name War, and death.  The only missing element was incest.  Porno!

I wonder if Steel would be amused or not.


  1. What does "too casual" mean? Sure, it depends on the context-- I wouldn't show up to the opera the same way I dress on weekends-- but I think it's a wonderful thing that there's places like San Francisco and Seattle where people who are comfortable in shorts, hiking boots and Tevas don't feel judged when they go out in public that way. I'd love to live in a place like that. If you'd prefer to see people more dressed up even when going to the grocery store or a casual restaurant, there's plenty of places for it, including Washington DC and the well-to-do South, or parts of New York, or parts of LA. If Danielle Steele would rather live in one of those places, it's great that she's able to, but I think it'd be a loss for the country overall if everywhere conformed to a homogenous prioritization of fashion.

  2. Well, we cannot compare ourselves to Steel, can we? Most of us don't have the luxury to be glamorous all the time. But I do understand her complaints, if you ever work in an office people show up in flip-flops...

  3. If your job doesn't involve meeting with clients who might take offense, why not wear flip-flops? I don't think a manger's aesthetic preferences should take priority over workers being able to dress like they would in any other public place, if there's nothing more than that at stake.

  4. Dressing somewhat more formally is a way to show respect to the job, to colleagues, and demonstrate an attitude. Of course, I'm not championing a return to 1950s, which is suffocating. But, an overtly casually attitude towards dress, can be extended into the same casual attitude towards the products one's supposed to produce and I'm speaking from my observation.

    To be able to wear casual clothes to work, used to be a symbol of status. Now, being absolutely democratic, everyone at work can do so, for better for worse. I have same discomfort if I call, say, a chancellor, a vice-chancellor by first name. It is supposed to show the equality of us but it is absolutely false.

    I am quite old fashioned, I suppose.