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Posts Tagged ‘fashion’

Mine!

I am a woman. That does not make me a traditional feminist, but while I say that, I’m also not an old-time fundamentalist either. On my hardest days at work, I think we’ve got a raw deal – I’d rather be home playing (and napping) with my tiny girl than slogging through the blech all day. But then, when I do get to stay home, I’m reminded of how hard my husband’s job really is, I re-appreciate the opportunities I’ve been given, and I also re-appreciate all the men and women who’ve been stay-home parents.

What I want, though, is respect. A woman at work put it very concisely this week when she said, “men are pigs.” Another has a bumper sticker on her desk saying, “Men are NOT pigs. Pigs are sensitive and intelligent animals.” OK, now, I’m guessing that there are at least three men who read this blog relatively regularly… so please take no offense, Handsome Panda, The Philosopher, and The Chemist. Just as men stand around and joke about how long it takes women to get ready to go out, women can generalize too. We love you. I know one of you Biblically – and another of you very well – and I’ll be the first to say that you’re two of the best. Which means that you probably can admit to having been a pig, at least once or twice. However, this post is most definitely not directed at y’all.

And, while I’m caveating up a storm, let me say now that this has absolutely nothing to do with the current political environment and all the cries of sexism that are being bandied about. I abhor political rhetoric, and all of that is political rhetoric for its own sake. Yuck. No, this is personal.

So. As I said. Respect. I’m not a frumpy dresser usually, and I do take some pride in my appearance (whether warranted or not). I clean up, fix my hair, apply my makeup with as much care as I can with a toddler hollering “me too, me too!” at my feet. I work in an office where the people mostly dress up – men in ties, women in skirts or slacks and heels, jeans on Friday. But even on Fridays, many still dress up, and “jeans” doesn’t mean grungies, it means trouser-style, dark dye, often still with dress shoes or boots. So I really don’t mind a second look, if offered. I’m self-conscious enough to think I’m having a wardrobe malfunction when I get a second look, anyway. However, by and large, I expect to be treated just like every man or woman, old or young, minority or majority, person in the office, in the neighborhood, or among my acquaintances.

By “respect” and “treated just like,” I’m not even referring to the equal-pay-for-equal-work rant that many women have. It’s hard to quantify all the differences that go into how a person is paid, including things like life decisions that take them away from work, but also including how aggressive they are about asking for what they deserve. Another generalization – men not only are more aggressive by nature, but also, an aggressive man is perceived as a “go-getter,” while an aggressive woman is considered a “bitch.” Go figure.

What I’m talking about is this. What makes it OK for a man (who’s not her husband or best friend) to ask a woman whether she’s “expecting”? Since when is it OK to ask a woman how old she is? Or her weight? Should I be flattered rather than offended if a man I hardly know saunters by saying, “Well nobody told me this was where all the cute girls hang out!”? Well, hmm… I do appreciate being told I look nice today. And I do compliment people when they’ve done something well or I like a particular pair of shoes, piece of jewelry, tie, whatever. But whether I’m speaking to a female acquaintance or a male one, I don’t want to be wondering whether they’re a) contemplating the health and occupancy of my uterus, or b) contemplating how to change the status thereof. If you’re close friends with somebody of the opposite sex, those lines blur a bit. You can joke around more without feeling like your privacy has been invaded. But if you’ve reached that place with someone, you know it, and if you haven’t… well… you damn well should know that too.

This is my body, and it is reserved.

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Blond Experiment

Today, I am getting my hair done. I will not be dying it blond or red or jet black or even hot pink, all previous colors of my youth. Rather, I will keep my hair in its natural state, a slight dark brown with a couple of caramel splashes.

My mother used to let me dye my hair as a form of expression. Instead of sneaking off and branding myself with a tattoo or piercing some obscure part of my body, I could dye my hair as long as I knew what I was getting into, and as long as I didn’t get in trouble with the principal at my private high school.

Throughout school, from kindegarten to my senior year, I was forced to conform to a silly dress code. Plaid dresses with white blouses in the winter time with stockings that had pre approved thread counts and “loafers”. I shuddered at that word, thinking that my shoes would look more like Frankenstien’s since my feet were unusually large for a girl my age. In the summer, I was to wear a blue and white pin stripe dress, white blouse, and I think I was allowed to wear those shiny, silver LA Gear sneakers that were so popular in the early 90’s. The boys nicknamed them my Star Trek shoes. I would then begin to cry.

It wasn’t until the summer going into my 7thgrade year that I started to push the envelope. I would find create ways to tie that bold, red sweater they made us wear in the winter with our bold red plaid outfit. I painted my nails dark blue. I smeared tiny sparkles on my eyelids on days when I was happy, and on days when I was feeling moody, I’d chip and peel my nail polish. Now, I’m not saying that I started the ‘Emo’ movement, but I was a trendsetter in that little Los Angeles private school.

Then one summer, while swimming with a girlfriend who adored my sense of style and my need for rebellion, sprayed something in my hair that would forever change my life. Sun-in. We spent all day out in the sun, spraying, swimming, giggling about boys, and spraying some more. By the time my mother picked me up, my hair looked like it belonged on the head and body of a cheap cabaret singer in some smokey joint. It was terrible.

From then on, my hair was “treated” by hairdressers, streaked with platinum blond highlights, dyed dark red to emulate my favorite TV show actress, Claire Danes, dipped through hot pink temporary color fo No Doubt concerts, and right before moving away to college, by to its natural state, nearly the same color it is now, dark brown. I still found ways to express myself through my hair in college. After every semester, I would either cut 7 inches off it or dye it a different color, a sort of cathartic thing a woman does after losing a great love in her life. (Oh trust me, I changed my hair after breakups as well).

My boyfriend loves my hair the way that it is, and general consesus of my friend in Austin can’t even imagine a super blond Meredith. To them, I am the dark and long haired woman, wtih poetic pieces of hair that sometimes hang in my eyes, but don’t think that I’m an emo-kid in any way.

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