Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Mini Rant: Your Efforts to be Right Makes You Sound Insane

Women, feminist women especially, hear my call. You don't have to be right all the damn time. Sometimes, it's nice to be wrong. When you have this long-standing belief that makes you feel like shit and like the world is against you, it feels wonderful to be proven wrong. But it seems like some people still feel the need to be "right," by which I mean wrong, since they're holding on to a belief that is based on things that might have been true at one point in time or were never true in the first place. Instead of relieving themselves of this oppressive burden, they choose to remain oppressed just so that they can be "right." Case in point (I feel like this isn't going to be a mini rant after all). 

Feministing has been publishing some anti-fashion posts lately from their community bloggers. As someone who shops like a fiend, I get pissed off with this supposedly basic feminist gripe with fashion. These posts become a breeding ground for those who believe there are no clothes on earth that look and feel good for them and that everyone else in the world, especially the skinny ladies, have wonderfully amazing experiences with shopping and fashion. As a skinny lady, I know this to be false. Shopping is tough for everybody and, like anything, it takes some hard work to find clothes that work for your shape. It doesn't matter if you're tall, short, plus-sized, or petite, we all have to put in some effort to make our clothes look great. The good news is that your efforts will pay off. But you wouldn't know that by reading what some of these feminists had to say about "mom jeans." After reading the good news that I spread about shopping being sort of an ordeal for everybody but there's great stuff out there for women of all sizes, people had to save face by holding on to their irrational belief that they're freakish and that the fashion industry is horrible and that I have it much easier as a thin person than they do as a fat person. In other words, they just reinforce the fallacies that the people who want them to feel bad about their bodies have been telling them they're whole lives. In other words, there's no use in holding on to this belief unless you value being "right" over feeling good about yourself, which is something that only people with a serious mental illness do.

Exhibit two. Someone asks if high heels are oppressive or empowering. I say neither, and I squash the rumor that heels are uncomfortable. I have several pairs of heels that are comfortable, and it doesn't take much effort to find them. I even suggested wedges and platforms, which are way more comfortable than stillettos and still give height. Pure wisdom, right? Not for the feminists who believe they must be uncomfortable at all times so that they can prove to the world that women are forced to wear stuff that makes them feel like shit! I didn't get the memo that women are pressured to wear shoes and garments that hurt. I'm glad I didn't. Or maybe I did but I threw it in the trash. And then the women in this thread went through my trash, read that memo, and thought it was a good idea to live by it, against the better judgment that their feminism allows them to exercise without feeling like a jerk. You know, the better judgment that liberated women have that they use when it's convenient and abandon when it's time to prove why they're feminists in the first place. The better judgment that I use to look good and feel comfortable and not blame uncomfortable shoes and ill-fitting clothes on The Man instead of my own choices. Because apparently there's so little evidence to support our belief in gender equality that we need to make shit up to talk about. All in the effort to be "right," though, which is more important than anything else.

Someone in the high heels thread actually claimed that I believe that people aren't influenced by society when making their clothing decisions, despite saying nothing of the sort (refer to the serious mental illness bit above). If there's anything that should hurt more than heels, it's definitely picking a lie that gigantic out of your own ass. Anyway, there are plenty of people who base their clothing choices solely on what the powers that be expect them to wear. That's one trend I don't follow. It's not worth it. My clothing decisions are based on my body and mind. I've looked at myself closely in the mirror with just my undies on many times. I've noticed some things about it. I love my body a lot, even though there's a lot to it that people probably would want me to hate. Too bad for them though. I put on clothes that look good on me, and I get them altered if need be to really look my best. I feel great and look great. Pretty neat. Not to someone who calls themselves a feminist but still insists that people who take time to look great can't possibly make these clothing decisions based on anything but the patriarchy. If I did dress myself according to what the powers that be want me to, there would be a lot of things I would be doing at the expense of looking and feeling my best:

  • I'd be stuffing my 34 A bra. But I don't. I don't buy padded bras either, unless I can take the padding out. Taking the padding out of a 34 A. That's empowering
  • I'd be wearing skinny jeans. But I don't. I've tried them on, and they're really made for women who don't have much in the hip area. That's not me, so I don't wear them.
  • I'd be wearing maxi dresses. But I don't. Maxi dresses are for women who are taller than average. I'm only 5'2", so to-the-floor dresses would make me look even shorter. That's not what I want, and it's not worth looking like an elf for the sake of a trend.
  • I would try to gain weight so that people would stop calling me anorexic or complimenting me for the weight that's due to my genes.
  • After gaining some weight, I'd try to lose that weight based on other people telling me that I looked better the other way.
  • I would hate my body and my very self. 
But there are women out there, feminist women even, who prefer to look and feel like shit in order to validate their beliefs. They also prefer to try to make the feminists who disagree with them feel like shit. They try to take advantage of the fact that most women are unhappy with themselves, but don't realize that they're talking to someone who is very satisfied with herself (thank you feminism!). It makes no sense. Is it better to be "right" than to be sane? I enjoy being both.


Depresso said...

The thing about laughing at someone who was wearing tights and a scrunchie? (In the Mom jeans thread) How very feminist to laugh at someone for the choices they have made about what or who they want to present as themselves to the world.

Also; did I miss the memo about tights somehow being bad or something? *hunts down the lime green pair, wears with pride*

I recall seeing a woman in Glasgow city centre not too long ago, wearing a bright yellow sweater and nearly-matching yellow cargo pants. My Mum made some comment about how she must not have a mirror at home but tailed off when I pointed out that very few people see themselves in the mirror without distortion anyways. She insists that she has to lose weight, despite the fact that she's nearly 59 and we come from a big-built family. My Gran is only petite because of osteoporosis. And what's the point of criticising what someone wlse wants to wear? Does it actually make anyone feel better, knowing that they've had to put someone down to do it?

Hah, I seem to have my rantypants on today! Which are big and comfortable, naturally.

FEMily! said...

The thing is, I don't disagree with you at all. Nobody should put anyone down, especially based on clothes. I don't make value judgments based on clothing. Maybe the woman your mother was talking about doesn't have a mirror in her home because she thinks that she's so ugly that she can't stand to look at herself in the mirror. That's troubling, and making a joke about it is equally troubling. When I see people who are just throwing clothing on themselves without taking into consideration their shape, I wonder if they know their bodies or if they have a distorted body image.

There are things about everyone's body that we're not supposed to like, and it shouldn't have to be that way. And it doesn't have to be. Like I said in my post, I should hate lots of things about my body and try to change them, but I don't because I've learned to love them and dress them. Man, if I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say something like "My ass is huge. There's no sense in hiding it, so why try finding pants to make it look smaller?" Like you said, everyone looks at themselves in a distorted way until they find ways to love their body. Chances are, that person's ass isn't as big as they think it is, but they can make it look that big by, for example, wearing light tapered jeans or tying a sweater around their waist. It's just reinforcing an irrational belief that makes you feel bad about yourself. It's not worth being "right" about the size of your ass instead of being rational about it and dressing it to make it look as good as it really is.

All I was saying in the posts that I linked to was that clothes can work for you. You have to make clothes work for you. If I waited for the Emily store to open up that's filled with clothes that only fit me right off the rack, I'd probably feel and look like shit. In fact, I did when I thought there was something wrong with my body because clothes didn't fit right off the rack. Then I realized that they didn't have to, and if clothes didn't fit me, that's something wrong with the clothes, not something wrong with me. With a little tweaking, I can make the clothes work for me. That's when I gained control over how I dress. That's when I started shopping with my body in mind and not what I was "supposed" to wear. I stopped stamping my feet and cursing the fashion industry and saw that, in reality, there are a lot of clothing manufacturers out there that make it easier for clothes to work for the shopper instead of the other way around. I'm just trying to impart that knowledge to other women who still have the same problems with clothes that I used to have.