Friday, September 12, 2008
What Not to Wear
I had just extricated myself from financial peril (aka turned in my library books) and was walking toward Walgreens to buy goldfish crackers and bubbles (don't ask) when I stopped at the crosswalk. W. Street is busy at the best of times, and it was rush hour, so I had kind of a wait. I fidgeted. I stared at my feet. I listened as an eloquent gentleman in a run-down pickup truck composed a lengthy extempore ode to my rear end.
(Sir, you were both creative and thorough, but I have to confess I was a little miffed. Why not my elbow? Or my clavicle? Why is it that the the only rhapsodizing I've ever inspired isn't about my brain or my talent or my *AHEM* winning personality, but instead exalts the part of me I sit on? Not to mention: dude, you need to get out more. There are superior posteriors!)
My one overriding thought at the time: CRAP. I GUESS I CAN'T WEAR THOSE JEANS.
See, it took the pickup truck lothario to show me how far I've strayed. As women we are taught to garner the attention we can, to be at all times as attractive as we can be. It's a straitjacket I've intermittently resisted, but yes, I remember dressing to look cute.
In the past year, though, I've begun -only half-consciously- to chose clothes and hairstyles not based on whether they look good, but on whether they make me, from a sexual perspective, invisible. I've rummaged through the dresser for my baggiest, rattiest T-shirt to wear on a walk, yanked back my hair prior to meeting friends, bought a shirt specifically because it was drab and mildly unflattering.
Part of this is a time-of-life thing. Part of it is big-city living. But today it was driven home to me that dressing for invisibility is just as much of a restriction as dressing for attention. Why should I have to retire those jeans? Why should I have to wear them? Why should I have to dress up or dress down? Why can't I just cover my *$#@#$ XXX-tra fine *$##-able $*# with whatever the #($*# I want?