By Marcie Everhart
Do you silently consider clothes — pieces, outfits, accessories — and wonder “what would this say about me”? There’s a fascinating internal script that runs through the head — Am I fun? Am I feminine and girly or cerebral and polished? Maybe you like to push boundaries as a rebel or are more interested in what’s “proper” or simply functional. Well, who am I today? In my fifties?
I’m an older woman who is not ever going to wear painful shoes again. For so many years that was an obvious decision for me. Short girls have to wear a heel to look leaner and make the clothes drape right. Fast forward, and I feel like an ancient Han Chinese woman who subjected herself to foot-binding to be seen as beautiful and catch the eye of a husband. Thoughts, realizations form as I look at the tiny blue veins marking my arches and heels and the crooked, calloused toes. Is this “empowered”?
Here’s the better question, sisters: If a woman chooses to dress herself in painful shoes and a dress that barely covers her private parts, is she empowered because she made that decision? Or is she still bowing to a society that says she’s a sexual object and “this” is considered attractive in this society?
Sorry for getting all political today, but I’ve been feeling this way for a long time. When I look at the fashion of the last ten years, all I see is sexual objects lacking personality and any power projected from confidence and charm. I feel that an evolved feminist doesn’t shriek “I’ll dress however sexy I want to with no repercussions!” Instead she asks “Why are you trying to infantilize me by putting me in a toddler dress?” (Wait a minute, Everhart. You’re the chick who wore an American flag bikini for a 4th-of-July post! All I can say is my ironic patriotism knows no bounds.)
For today I’m the woman who chooses a knee-length dress that intrigues with its swaying skirt in motion, a flat shoe that is jaunty and a pleasure to walk around in, and a jacket that combines both sporty stripes and girly flowers.
Whenever I wear all black (sleek slacks and a shirt or simple dress), my husband never fails to mention how striking it is on me. Any other color or attempt to soften or lighten my look gets nary a glance. I do “feel” more “like me” in it — serious, mysterious, timeless, and most importantly, removed from the struggle. I hope it says: You don’t get to know all my secrets.
What fascinating stories would our outfits tell if we took “man-pleasing” off the table and focused on pleasing only ourselves? And I mean no disrespect to the sisters for whom man-pleasing is pleasing to them. We have enough judgment, gosh, thank you very much. I’m just pointing out that clothes speak volumes, and have I really been in charge of my own script?
I love this dress — how great is a short-sleeve with just enough coverage to conceal the distracting skin under an older woman’s arm. If I’m pointing to a graph or chart during a presentation, the arm is covered which projects more authority. And if I drop my pen and bend over to retrieve it in this dress, I’m not going to create alarm or discomfort in others around me. Has recent fashion been a little “inconsiderate” to others even?
The current situation in fashion is that it’s time for the pendulum to swing back again. The movement is being called the Modesty Trend, and it’s being driven by the industry listening to the dollars of wealthy Muslim women. Some of the most exciting bloggers out there are young Muslim women styling pieces to meet their needs and aesthetic.
I for one am cheering from the stands.
The Real-Real Behind the Scenes
Oh my, doesn’t that arouse the emotions. What does any of this even mean? I see two very different societies doing the same thing — using women as their canvas to paint a picture of control. Exactly who is “empowered” in this picture? Do any of the women in this photo project power and command respect?
A Little Background Music
*Photos of Marcie by Darrin Presley