Sunday, April 24
We Make the Sun Ourselves
Dress I got from this wonderful lady, Seychelles heels, thrifted sweater, homemade hair, vintage earrings.
Sometimes I don't know what to think about everything. And by everything I guess I mean irritatingly amorphously huge life-questions, like what is my place in the world, or why am I doing what I'm doing. I do think it feels odd to go from my work, where I'm routinely assumed to be a teenager, to the doctor-bar here in this doctor-town, where some 50ish dude last night said he thought I was 35. For serious? I mean, actually, the 35 part doesn't really get me down, and I guess he's not all that wrong, and I guess it doesn't even really insult me because why should some dude's assumption about my age insult me when I wouldn't even know how old I am if I met me? I feel 35 sometimes. Sometimes I feel 18. Last night I felt about 25 and happy and loved because I have friends who actually call me after work to hang out with them! And this morning I feel ancient because I didn't drink enough water last night, and my skin feels papery and full of tired energy. Also I feel like I need a berry smoothie.
I think one of the things that gets me down about both these assumptions (teenager, 35) is often men seem to think it's their prerogative to comment on women's appearance. Because we are women, our appearance is public spectacle, and as such is subject to their verbal appraisal, to our faces, whether or not we are in a bar, whether or not we work in "public" job (like in a bookstore. Or hell, even if we're doctors. Maybe especially then). The other day, I was working at the cash-register, and an older man approached with his purchases. He watched me for a moment, then he said "You're built just like my wife. Long, thin limbs. You probably couldn't gain weight if you tried." I was sort of shocked, although I don't know why -- this sort of thing happens all the time, to me and to every girl I know. But it still astounded me that this man (and men like him) supposed I'd want to hear his estimation of my body and my metabolism, that he thought I'd like to know that I'd never gain weight; his wife has been a "runt all her life." Runt. That is what he called me. But then he winked and qualified it by saying "Of course, that's a good thing." Of course it is! You're using a word with negative connotations to my face, after visibly taking stock of me and assessing my worth! OMG, thank you so much!
Maybe it's hypocritical to complain about this on a blog where I post photos of myself in fancy clothes. But I put pictures on my blog to share with my readers and I want your opinions of my outfits and my text -- that's why I have comments open. Here, here is a place for opinions, because I consider you all my interweb friends and we share a common interest: dressing up. But dressing up is not dressing for men, and vanity (because sure, I'm vain) is not the same as sexuality. The majority of my readers are female and the majority of those females are all too aware of the complexities of female value in our culture. Eg: I like looking pretty. Doesn't mean I like dudes. I'm wearing a dress and have long hair: that is not a free pass to comment on my appearance, for good or ill, whether you think you're "complimenting" me or not. If I have short hair and am wearing a t-shirt and jeans and you assume I'm a lesbian, this is still not a pass to comment on my appearance. If I am overweight: sorry, it's not appropriate. If you think my breasts are small, or large, or if you think I need to get my bangs trimmed, or you think my necklace looks like a penis and so you actually reach out and touch my chest to finger the necklace (yes, this happened two weeks ago): OMG you guys, it's still not okay to say something!
This sentiment has been expressed multitudinous times and in more eloquent ways than I have space to do it here, but suffice it to say that while I surely enjoy feeling beautiful and even sexy, those warm and pleasant feelings are not created by anyone other than myself. We all know this. If you're having a down-day, everyone in the world can tell you that you look great and none of it means a lick. What's such a shame is that because girls are raised in this evaluatory culture, we derive so much of our personal power and worth from these banal assessments by people who don't even know us. (Prime example: dudes who catcall when we walk down the street (nice short post about that here, please check it out). I don't know. Sometimes it just seems like loving ourselves and our bodies -- without the sticky glaze of masculine approval/disapproval -- is damn near impossible, if only because their feelings about women are always apparent and always, always more socially validated than women's feelings about themselves. I don't know. But I'm trying.