Thursday, October 11, 2012

Clothing and Empowerment: Why I Look the Way I Do

A lot of people go, Oh I hate putting a suit on and how can you be comfortable in a suit? And it's like, because this is like medieval armor for me. When I put this on, it's like when you see in the movies and they put a breastplate on and there's a valet and he's standing next to him and a page, and they light a candle and whatnot and I kneel down in front of the thing and I cross myself and I kiss the end of my sword, and I look up at a picture of the king - oh fuck yeah! - and there's a giant purple crystal hanging over my head, and Nicol Williamson is there with a conical hat with mystic runes on it and shit, and an owl flies into the room and sits on his shoulder and looks at me knowingly, right? And then, I fucking put my thing on and they put my cape over me and I mount a giant horse and shit like that. That's what this feels like to me. I feel like I have the protection of the Lord, and that I might go on the crusades - safely - and return with massive booty, and sack Jerusalem, and even meet a Saracen girl. All those things go through my mind when I put my suit on.
--Greg Proops, from his Smartest Man in the World podcast

Yesterday, I realized something as I dragged my copper glitter eyeliner across my lashline and pinned my slouchy beret to my hair: this is my armor.

I don't mean armor in the sense of putting a barrier between myself and the world, an appearance that makes me unapproachable. No. The clothes I wear and, when I think to put it on, my makeup are one of my ways to feel strong and confident. When I wear them, I can walk up to people and chat with them more easily. I don't get flustered. I can speak confidently when others approach me. Cat calls don't get to me. Insults bounce off. The world can't hurt me. I am invincible. I am strong.

A lot of people may not get this. Ruffles and lace, corseted bodices, flowers pinned up and down the side of my head until I look like I have sprouted a garden... it doesn't compute. If I am to be strong, the world thinks, I must don traditionally masculine garb or some semblance of it. My clothing would assign me to a chair in the kitchen or by the window, waiting for someone to come rescue me.

That is, of course, bullshit.

Some people feel empowered by that, certainly. I'm not trying to discount that, but that's not the only way to feel strong. Some people feel empowered by wearing miniskirts. More power to you. Some people feel empowered by wearing suits. Awesome. Some people feel empowered by wearing clothing that allows them to move with ease. Go for it. Wear whatever makes you feel your most confident, your strongest, your wisest, your best.

I feel empowered when I am wearing full skirts and a heaping helping of barrettes.

And maybe I'll be the lady waiting at the window, the princess in the high tower. But it's even more likely that I'll be the crusading knight. Maybe I'll climb a mountain. Maybe I'll discover new places. Maybe I'll cross deserts to find something I can call holy. Maybe I'll meet a Saracen and communicate haltingly in mime until we come to some form of understanding.

And maybe I'll do it in skirts. With the way I feel when I put them on, nobody can stop me.


  1. I'm generally a blog-stalker, and not an active commenter. But I really wanted a "like" button for this post and there isn't one. If there was one, I would have liked it to show my agreement and gratitude that this post has been written.
    Consider yourself like'd.

    1. Thank you so much! I don't get many comments on my blog, and it's nice to know somebody's reading it. And agreeing, apparently.