Wednesday, August 30, 2006
I begin to doubt my experiences are typical. . .
When I was a little girl, my mother dressed me in pretty dresses (lots of yellow ones, for some reason) and shoes and barrettes and all the girly things that little girls are dressed in. I don't remember much of it, but there are pictures, so I know it is so. When I was old enough, I stopped wearing dressed. I don't like them. I don't like skirts, either. It's hard for me to move in them, it's hard for me to sit comfortably and I don't like the picture of me they present to the world at large. Part of that is because my mother wears dresses every Sunday and gets all prettied-up when she goes out and entertains. And, well, I had a decided need to rebel against my mother. But that was when I was a teenager. To this day, I don't wear dresses unless I have to. Why? Because I don't like them. I honestly don't. I don't feel comfortable in them, I don't like that it tells the world I'm a "girly" girl (because I'm so not). I don't like the expectation that I'm going to wear them, just because I'm female.
But mostly, it's comfort. I like the way pants feel. I like the way shorts feel, too. Even though the world wants to tell me I'm too fat to wear shorts, I don't care. They're comfortable. When it's hot, they're cool. I want to be cool and comfortable, not hot and cranky. Ergo, I wear shorts in the summer and pants to work. I don't think about if they make me look sexy. I don't think about if they'll make people look at me. I just think I want to be comfortable.
Some of that comes, I think, from growing up on a farm. There was a lot of work to do and you might as well be comfortable doing it. I also prefer to go barefoot. Because that feels better to me. I like the feeling of the grass or the rock or the dirt under my feet. The first thing I do, every day, when I get home from work, it take off my shoes. And the shoes I do wear are very specific -- sandals in the summer, boots in the winter. I don't wear tennis shoes or jogging shoes and I absolutely, never, ever wear heels. I cannot walk in heels, they make my feet hurt and why would I do that to myself?
I like bright colors and soft fabrics. I like funky patterns and interesting jewelry. I hate mainstream fashion, partially because none of it is made for a body like mine and partially because, aethetically, I find it displeasing. But where do those preferences come from?
I think what I'm asking is, the portion of our choices made because we simply like something, how much is that influenced by where we come from? If I hadn't grown up on a farm or had a mother who is stereotypically feminine, would I still have the same preferences I have? If I had grown up in a city and had a mother who eshewed 'girly' things, would I still prefer a bohemian look? Or would I be one of those women who wears heels and hose and make-up everyday?
I'm not making any judgements on what any woman wears, by the way. I'm assuming, at least on some level, that she dresses the way she dresses because she's getting something out of it. Maybe she enjoys it, maybe she's using it to send certain messages, maybe she's dressing to get ahead in her career. Who knows? I certainly don't, no more than she knows why I dress like I do. I'm just wonder if society, in general, has as big an impact on our clothing/appearance choices as some bloggers suggest. I'm not doubting it has an impact, but I'm wondering if maybe our family of origin has the bigger influence.