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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

I Don't Care What You Look Like

And I don't think you should care what I look like, although feel free to tell me if you think I'm looking particularly foxy. I have yet to experience a major breakdown over someone else's appearance (over my own, I have. Back in the day, a single zit could send me into a downward spiral faster than you can say Clearasil.) I've been told by more seasoned parents than I that I don't know how bad it can get. Maybe they're right. But maybe not.

My parents and I don't always agree on what looks good. Apparently, my Doc Martens made me look like a lesbian. I'm not quite clear on why, especially because, several years later, when the cute girls started wearing them, they were suddenly...cute. And I don't really see anything wrong with looking like a lesbian (if a pair of shoes can do that, which I sincerely doubt), although I guess it could be seen as deceptive. Somehow, I don't think Mom was thinking about all those poor disappointed lesbians. Or maybe she was, because when I stopped shaving my legs for a brief time, she seemed concerned again that I was trying to fool lesbians. If I caused any difficulty for lesbians, I do apologize. Sorry, lesbians! I like you and I never meant to hurt or deceive you!

My nose ring was met with similar anger. And I use the word anger, because that's what it was. From my parents' reaction, you would have thought I had gotten a tattoo of a naked bum smack in the middle of my forehead, a hairy naked bum. I got my nose pierced because I thought it looked cute. Period. I was always willing to take it out for work, without being asked, even. It was never a political statement. It was just a fashion statement. It was no different from the fashion choices my mom (Talbot's) and my dad (pleated pants) make every day. I wouldn't make those choices for myself, but I couldn't care less what they wear. And I don't care what my kids wear, as long as it sort of fits and is more or less appropriate for the weather.

Clothes should make us feel good. On the first day of pre-school, O. wore a carefully planned outfit. At the time, he was in the habit of rocking my sister's t-ball shirts from the early eighties (so Old School - that kid has always had serious style.) That day, he wore a red polyester t-ball shirt, red polyester gym shorts that he had insisted on buying, to go with the shirt, red socks, pulled up like thigh-highs and red shoes. He looked awesome and felt like a bad-ass. I was so proud.

For an entire year, O. wore shorts to kindergarten. At first, I objected, until I remembered that we live in South Carolina. If it ever was cold enough here for there to be a risk of frost-bite, the kids wouldn't have school any way. The only time we'd leave the house would be to buy milk, bread and eggs for the impending blizzard (we like to eat French Toast during blizzards). And I knew that the only reason I cared was that I was worried what the other parents and teachers would think of me as a mother. And I know I'm doing just fine. Any time your answer to a "why" question starts with, "Other people..." it's probably the wrong answer.

The other day, my mother in law visited my sister in law, V.* She was only there for fifteen minutes, but that didn't stop her from driving V. a little crazy. Our mother in law, with tears in her eyes and a choked voice, begged V. to get her seven year old son a haircut. "Other people" apparently think terrible thoughts about my nephew because of his hair. Although it's beside the point, I think he looks pretty cool, like a British rocker. But these "other people" do not agree. I'm not sure what they think about him, perhaps that he's a drug user, a pimp or a little boy with parents who don't care if he gets a haircut. According to our mother in law, he is a handsome boy, but no one will ever know, because his hair makes him look ugly. Wow.

My mother still makes comments about my looks, although she tries to be kinder. I think she really believes she's doing me a favor, but it hurts my feelings. Telling someone they have spinach in their teeth is doing them a favor; telling them their eyeshadow looks bad is mean. Mom would claim that I shouldn't be hurt, that I shouldn't care what other people think. On this point, I agree, but it's a fact of life that we usually do care what the people close to us think. It's not that I need everyone to approve of my fashion choices, but it hurts to think that someone you love could love you less because of something so inconsequential.

My mother's brother is getting married on Saturday (his third wedding, but he's remarrying his second wife, but that's another story!) and I know I'll wear the wrong thing. Somehow, I always manage to be dressed wrong around my mom's family, so I've given up and just wear what I like. There are a bunch of unwritten rules in her family about what's appropriate, and I really need someone to write them out for me. Several months ago, I was with her family, including two cousins who have babies a little bit younger than Baby J. At some point, I had to breastfeed Baby J, which I did fairly discreetly; after three children and years of breastfeeding, I'm pretty good at it. I was rather proud of myself for being so smooth, until I saw my cousins whip out tents. They had these tents velcroed around their necks, so their babies could eat in peace out of the public eye. At least, I think they were eating; I guess there's no way to know for sure what was going on under there.

So, my uncle's (third) wedding (to his second wife - oh wait, did I already say that? Oops!) is coming up and I don't know what to wear. The wedding is on a farm. The ceremony will be by a lake and, following that, we'll walk up a hill on a dirt road to some sort of building with concrete floors. As you can imagine, this scenario presents me with shoe challenges. The only clothes I own that go with dirt road, hill walking shoes are sweatpants and jeans. And those aren't even my party jeans, which I wear with heels. Despite my pleas for suggestions, mom is no help. Maybe I should call my cousins, who seem to be more in the know. As it stands, I'm planning on wearing a brown tweed, pleated mini skirt, a deep teal silk blouse (by Mayle, bought on sale - yes!) and my brown Yves St. Laurent platform boots (also bought on sale, several years ago, for 90% off!) All I need to complete the outfit is a pair of magenta fishnets. I'm going to look great, according to me.

By the way, I don't rock the nose ring any more, but I've kept the hole open. When I'm in a nursing home, I plan to wear it. It should help me weed out the people who are more interested in the way I look than they are in me. Too bad for them, because I have good jokes.

Namasté, y'all!

*V. and I are married to brothers, although one time, after a few glasses of wine, V. told someone at a party that our husbands were married. That earned us a few funny looks.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I absolutely LOVE this quote!

"Any time your answer to a "why" question starts with, "Other people..." it's probably the wrong answer."

I think I will be making this my motto.