The Empowered Female, An Empowering Dresser?
I may be a fashionista, but clothes remain an oddity to me. I gave up dressing for the male gender along time ago and now if I show off my tits it’s because I want to. And because I like my breasts, to me they are empowering.
I embraced the baby doll tent/trapeze dress for summer because for once it was a style that was breezy and light and dare I say it comfortable. I decided I’d stick it to the man (or men) who found the style unappealing. I liked it. And they showcased my legs, another of my favorite features. It allowed me to keep the ladies under wraps but let people go gaga over my gams.
All in all, I loved the shape of the summer dresses, or the fact that there wasn’t much shape to them at all.
But it all got me to thinking. In a way although we dress for ourselves, we do dress for others. And the other night I had a horrifying experience where in all of this shapely/shapeless controversy came to a head.
I was walking to the train from work, standing on a corner about to walk into Union Square. It was late and I was tired and talking to my boyfriend. That day I had worn an American Apparel strapless tube dress with a flouncy tunic to cover up the fact that the dress showed more curves than I was comfortable with.
So, I was showing off my shape, but still covering it up. And I had on my mother’s old cowboy boots, since I work at a Texas BBQ restaurant and its pretty much the only dress code requirement of a hostess. They also draw way more attention from men than I ever imagined—I get a “hey cowgirl” at least every other day.
So, I’m walking and talking and standing on a corner and some guy on a bike rides right by me and manages to CUP my ass cheek. It was not a graze, a tap or a touch it was a distinct cup of my ass. While he cupped my cheek he managed to say “That’s MINE.”
EXCUSE ME, NO. I was startled, then disturbed then pissed. Before he rode too far off all I managed to scream was “FUCKER.” My poor boyfriend’s ear, I was very loud and very angry.
Maybe it was just that guy, that creepy ass cheek cupping biker, or maybe it was the fact that my ass looked too good for him to pass up.
Whatever it was, it started me thinking about what these clothes are to me. Although I am dressing for myself, am I wearing styles that are empowering to me as a woman?
In a way, I loved the shapelessness of the summer dresses because I could go to work and not get hit on. Or not get hit on at all (despite the cowboy boots). Covering up my body was empowering because I knew what was underneath and could show it to those I cared enough about to reveal that part of myself.
And now that fall is fast approaching and the shape of the clothes are changing with the weather, I have no doubt that I will transition my summer dresses into ones that work for cooler temperatures. Black tights and sweaters over my summer dress all nipped in with a belt. It’s cute and it’s still comfortable and lets face it, affordable to make it work for more than a single season.
In this article in the New York Times, a 23 year old mused that the shapeless summer dresses and flats made women un-empowered and a lot like a duck in fourth grade.
But to me it’s less about the designers and more about the way I design the clothes to work for my body, in a way that I like.
To me that is power. Even if I do get my ass cheek cupped in the process.
At least I am empowered enough to yell back and keep on dressing the way I desire.