Discussion of everything related to the Theory of Evolution.
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I wrote something which I believe gets to the origin of fashion and gossip in a simple and logical way. I would be happy with any comment on whether it makes sense to you or not.
Why do women find it important to be in on the latest fashion trends and gossip? Fashion couldn't be just to look nice for the opposite sex, because most men hardly notice the latest handbag or shoes. I believe the reason lies in our evolutionary background of hunting and gathering.
Compared to the male hunting, female gathering seems a pretty simple task. You walk and walk and every now and then you bump into that tree full of fruits or those vegetables just ripe to be eaten. What I want to show is that the occupation of gathering wild fruits and vegetables is far from simple. It is a highly information intensive occupation.
A tree full of fruits is a temporary store of valuables you encounter by chance. The female that finds it comes home with enough fruits for her family, and one important bit of information; where others can find more of what she has. This information will not last, many animals are after the sugars in ripe fruits. But it is very valuable information.
Who should she share that information with? In her best interest, she should share it with someone who will return the favour another day, so she can get fruits and vegetables another time. The best person to share the information with is the one that always seems to be in on the latest finds. She is the most likely to be able to let you in on the next bargain to be had.
This is why it is important as a woman to always show you are in on the latest finds. It will get others to share the information on their finds with you, which in the end is what gets you that regular stream of fruits and vegetables you and your children need.
Gossip, especially being the first in delivering certain news, is a good way to show off the quality of your information network. Trendy clothing and accessories is another more recent signal between women, intended to sort the ones in the know, from the ones out of it. Of course clothes can also signal attractiveness, group affiliations etc., but there is a separate interest in signalling being up-to-date.
Fashion may not have been a signal before the mass production of clothes, just like cars could not always have been a signal of status in men. But the instinctive need to signal is there, the method will change to the most efficient one available. Women still dedicate a lot of effort to keeping up with the latest finds and showing it off, because once it really was a matter of life and death.
For a more complete explanation, and some other ideas:
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