"I am not some hard core skier with a big beard, living in recluse out on a mountain, with duct taped gear."
I have had the good fortune to meet many a hardcore skier from both Epic and TGR over the past season. NONE of them have beards, are recluses, and have duct taped gear. Way to promote a stereotype!
"I am a city guy who loves to ski and sees nothing wrong with taking advantage of the immense selection of styles and colors of ski gear that are made available every year and which companies spend nearly all their budgets to develope and bring to the public."
That's fine. But I think if you work your way around both TGR and Epic you'll soon discover that while the bulk of the members are indeed "gear whores" they don't put a lot of stock on the fashion, but rather the functionality.
The general concensus that I've picked up on my meager time on both sites is that if you're going to be flash you better back it up with serious steez (i.e. straightlining Corbet's in a dry year type of steez). Either that or have a wonderful sense of self-effacing irony (i.e. rocking women's gear or a neon fart bag, etc). Even then, if you watch a lot of the ski movies the pros aren't that flashy these days. In fact it seems to be more in fashion at the moment to play it cool in terms of the flash and gaudiness of one's gear.
Nobody is bashing your enthusiasm for the sport. I think we're encouraging it. But sometimes your focus feels like it's more about the look than the actual process (and don't use that "product of the environment" excuse, my friend!)
I'm a city guy myself and while I can't deny that I don't pay a little attention to the look of my gear, ultimately what's important is how the gear functions. Besides for the most part the folks I ride with are more concerned about skiing than what they (or I) look like. I think you'll find that most of the Bears are coming from this point of view, as well.
Case in point. I'm skiinng with a helmet for the first time this season. I think I look goofy as hell in the helmet (yes, i was vane enough to stand in front of the mirror for hours checking out my helmeted look). I recently rode in Colo and nobody said anything about the helmet other than "Good to see you got a helmet Dookey." They didn't care what I looked like, they cared that I had stepped up on the safety tip.
One final note, I occassionaly do rock a beard (but I leave the duct tape in the truck). When I do it's usually because I've been too busy riding to worry about shaving. In short, when ski season starts it's all about the snow. I'll take a shower so I don't offend those in the lift lines, but if forced with first lines or taking the time to shave, first lines will win out every time.
As for mindset, I have adopted the outlook that I ski half-assed well (I believe that quote should be attributed to Mr. Crab, if I am not mistaken).