Let me start off by saying how sorry I am for that last post… not that I think I was entirely wrong, mind you, but because I might have seemed like I was aiming it exclusively at women and I wasn’t. Also, some people… (okay, they were women, and I am scared to make women angry because I have a rudimentary brain and a strong sense of self-preservation)… now think that I am one of those people who buy into the standards of beauty set by the fashion and cosmetic industries when nothing could be further from the truth.
In short, in my last post, I didn’t say stupid things, but the things I said might have been said stupidly.
My big mistake was using tattoos, mini skirts, skinny jeans and crop tops as examples, because this sounds like I am aiming primarily at women. My other mistake was to try to be funny about a serious subject. But in my defense, that really is what I do around here when I am not busy being just plain silly. I try to get people to talk about things and think about things… sometimes even uncomfortable things… controversial things… and sometimes it works out that we learn things while we laugh.
I in no way meant to imply that any of these fashion decisions can’t or shouldn’t be worn by anyone over any certain age… or weight… I am not a fashion expert. In fact, I have no sense of fashion at all. But now that I am backpedaling furiously in an attempt to save my own saggy and almost nonexistent ass, I am beginning to feel a little defensive because a big part of me thinks that maybe we are so concerned about hurting the feelings of anyone who doesn’t look like a model that we might be passing up a very real and valid point here.
Hey, if you don’t look like a model and you want to wear a mini skirt and crop top and tattoos, more power to you. Society has no right to tell you how to dress or judge you in any way… but the fact is, we are. We say we aren’t… we pretend we aren’t… but we really are.
This might be the first time where I cross a line that gets me hate mail, and I have purposefully written horrible things on my blog to racists, gun nuts, terrorists, the KKK, extremists, reactionary conservatives, people who take any religion too seriously, Dick Cheney and stupid people… all without getting any hate mail…
But I am going to say this and just hope it isn’t one step too far; there is a certain point past which some styles and fashions are doing the wearer a favor. It isn’t my fault that some clothing is designed with some body types in mind. It isn’t my fault that clothes that might flatter one person might not do the same for someone else.
We can all see how this is dangerous ground to walk on. It gets right to the very heart of what honesty is and where it becomes hurtful. Let’s use, as an example, the question asked by so many women over the years; “Does this dress make me look fat?”
If you are overweight and you know it, do you want a real answer if you ask that question? Is it a test of our honesty or our ability to lie convincingly? If you have a friend who has a skin complexion that really doesn’t go with a certain color dress, and she asks you your honest opinion, do you tell he that it is a bad combination or let her go on the date in what you know is an unflattering look? Doesn’t the same need for honesty apply to weight or age?
I think, perhaps, that we have become so conditioned not to pass judgment, not to be mean, that we can’t even really be honest on this subject. I am in no way a sexist. I have two daughters. I love women. I would never intentionally insult or demean someone because of how they look. But if a male friend of mine asks my opinion on what he is wearing, and he tried to squeeze himself into something that makes him look like too much meat in a sausage casing, I am going to tell him.
I think if you are really, brutally honest with yourself, you will admit that you have seen people walking around in outfits that you knew were wrong for them. I might say at this point that I am not a huge fan of mini skirts on anybody because I think it just sends the wrong message. Hey, wear what makes you feel comfortable and attractive by all means. But if you pick an outfit just to get noticed, don’t be surprised if that is what happens.
The same goes with tattoos. What might seem cute or edgy when you are twenty might not garner the same admiration when you become a grandparent. Tramp stamps are called tramp stamps for a reason. They make you look as if you are trying to fit into the lower edge of the classy envelope. If you try to look like you are twenty and you aren’t, people notice. They might not say anything to you, but they do. And once again, doesn’t the same criteria apply to body type?
My other mistake was making it seem like women make more of these bad choices than men do. They don’t. But another sad truth about fashion and style is that men have an easier time of it than women do. That is the only reason my list seems weighted towards women. That and the fact that I was just trying to do a fast and funny little post without thinking too much about it. There are plenty of guys out there sporting the bad comb-over or dressing about two decades out of sync with their age. We have all seen the heavyset guy wearing the t-shirt that is way too short for him. And we all think; “Well, that really isn’t a good look for you.” Is this some inherent cruelty on our part? When you see the old guy driving the convertible muscle car, you can’t help but think ‘mid-life crisis.
I am not picking on people battling weight issues. I am not decrying those who long to feel younger than they actually are. The fashion industry gets paid by making us buy their clothes. And they purposefully put examples of those clothes on people that are by definition what most people find attractive. Those people are called ‘models’. Most of us aren’t models… or we are later models… (ha, see what I did there?)
I didn’t invent the concept of fashion. Hell, I don’t even support it. I wear t-shirts and either shorts or jeans. I wear tennis shoes. I don’t buy designer anything or get expensive haircuts. I don’t drive a fancy car. I own one set of nice clothes for funerals and weddings. I have one tattoo that I got when I was in the Navy when I was 17 because it tells a story.
You will never see me walking around in a midriff muscle shirt. Because I’m old, I’m shy, and I know nobody wants to see that… but mostly because I am honest enough with myself to know that it would be a little ridiculous.
I’m sorry if I stepped on any toes.