A few weeks ago, I posted something about how I’m always known to wear dresses. Upon reflection, this is true, so I went into the middle drawer of my dresser (yes, the middle drawer) and pulled out two pairs of pants. These are great pants. They are fitted and were overpriced but they are made of some wonderful material that is guaranteed to make your tuckus look great, even after a full day of riding around in a car. And… it seems I really am a girl who wears dresses.
I didn’t like them at all. They made my tuckus look like it was born in an office chair. (So much for the promise of my great pants.) As comfortable as they are, they just aren’t flattering. Maybe I have lost too much weight for these pants, or maybe they just aren’t expensive enough, but whatever it is, I didn’t like the look.
So why is this a big deal?
I like to stand out in a crowd. I like being smart and funny. What I don’t like is being a strange stereotype. When I say I’m Christian, I don’t like people to draw a line from my religious views to my attire. It mutes the real reason I wear dresses, which is that I think they are pretty. When I wear something pretty, I feel pretty.
I have a strange juxtaposition here. A modern women in traditional women’s clothes. A free thinker who follows a prescriptive religion. A feminist in dresses. As with many things I believe and say and do, there is a contrast. And I bring it up because this isn’t really a discussion of what I am wearing, but how other people perceive me.
A few years ago, a friend made a very big deal of coming out to me. To her, it was a “close the door and sit down,” sharing moment. To me, it was more startling that she felt she had to come out to me at all. I mean, seriously, it was hard to miss. Among other things, her “lady friend” was practically draped in a rainbow flag. I didn’t want to be insensitive to her big moment, but this wasn’t news. “How did you know?” she asked in bewilderment. “How didn’t I know?” I laughed. “I’d have to be blind to miss it.”
It produced a longer conversation about why she felt a need to tell me in the first place. She had been afraid to tell me. Why? “Because you are such a traditional Christian.” I felt sick. I’m a strong, outspoken, unionist who lives in a more enlightened era than all that. And yet here is a woman who knows me, but was still afraid of condemnation.
Fashion isn’t just a reflection of what looks pretty. It’s also a stage for what we want the world to see about our belief system. When we show up in heels and dresses, it sends a message as clearly as if we showed up in Doc Martins and a trench coat. Christian Dior versus army surplus. They do not carry the same message. Both announce something important before you speak.
So here I am, all lipstick and heels and dresses, carrying the banner of equality. And yet, if you scroll up, my biggest concern is how my tuckus looks. Probably that alone just made the ghost of Andrea Dworkin roll into a ball. I have no answer to this issue. I’ll continue to wear dresses. I’ll continue to look a wee titch more devout than anyone foresaw, and maybe I’ll hit ‘em with surprise when my acerbic tongue loosens on my political views.