A couple of weeks ago Beth and I went to a cake and craft show. We dressed for the event in our usual unique style – Beth in her skinny jeans and favourite Hollister top and me in a 50s style gingham circle skirt and pin curls. We both wore our now slightly famous ice cream shoes!
Our shoes got alot of attention with people asking how they were made, where they could buy them from….but as it sometimes does outside of my usual circle, my vintage inspired style also prompted a number of second glances.
During the week I have a ‘normal job’. I work in an office and dress to fit the corporate environment. I think it’s only right that my attire represents the organisation, but for someone who loves to express themselves through their appearance, it sometimes feels a little bit alien. So at the weekend I let my personality come out in everything from my clothes to the colour of my toe nails!
The older I become, the more confident I get and the more I seek out and surround myself with people who are accepting and appreciate people for what makes them different and not just what they have in common. Unfortunately while my appearance prompted some very sweet compliments from strangers, it wasn’t immune from judgement.
Stall holder: “That’s a nice skirt – did you make it?”
Me: “Thank you – no I didn’t, but I’ve got some fabric to try and make a similar one.”
Beth looking very proud: “We customised our shoes though.” Bless her 🙂
All very pleasant? Yes. But then (and I’m not exaggerating when I say this) she looked my 12 year old up and down and then turned back to me, looked me up and down, tutted and narrowed her eyes…
Stall Holder: “Ah yes I see, it’s a complete look. Can I ask, why did you wake up this morning and purposely dress differently to everyone else? Is it because you wanted everyone to look at you?”
You know those times when someone says something rude and you don’t know how to respond …. until later of course when you can think of a hundred things you should have said? Well I’m happy to say that this wasn’t like that.
Me: “Nah, I just woke up this morning and put on clothes that I like – I think it’s odd that so many people got up today and chose to wear practically the same outfit. Do you think they enjoy blending in or maybe they’re just worried that people will judge them for standing out?” *smile, head tilt*
An eye roll later, she shook her head and shifted her gaze. We sashayed away from her stall (oh yes we did!) to an imaginary round of applause.
While I’d rather that people
only spoke to my child in loving tones of adoration never looked my 12 year old up and down or judged her, part of me is glad that she got to see this. Because unfortunately she will see this sort of thing many more times in her life. People are judgemental – that’s what the World is like and I think it’s good that she saw her Mum brush it off.
Recently I’ve become aware that alot of this kind of judgement of people’s appearance comes from women. We wouldn’t accept the same kind of behaviour from men!
If a man looked at a woman like that and said “Did you dress like that so everyone would look at you?” we’d be up in arms. “How dare he!?” we’d say. “Women can dress however they want, it isn’t anything to do with anyone else.” But we all know that people often judge or make assumptions based on appearance, without bothering to get to know someone. Whether it’s what kind of a person they think they are, or whether they ‘belong’.
We all know that we shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover (or stereotype). We know that not all Mums wear flat shoes and stripey tops, not all blondes are bimbos (though I’m told they do have more fun haha) and not all larger people are ‘bubbly’. A person covered in tatoos can be sensitive and sweet, a glamourpuss can be a genius and the quiet ones, well sometimes they’re just quiet. We know these things – so why do we still put up with being put in boxes.
We should embrace people who don’t blend in, don’t fit the mould. The more of those people there are, the more people who are happy to be different despite the funny looks and the judgemental comments, the weaker these stereotypes become.
(who is an intelligent, blonde, glamour-loving feminist; a working mum who bakes and crafts, a gobby, secretly shy girl who wears old fashioned clothes and shares her thoughts on the internet)