Ladies, Put Your Dresses On

Corrida de Toros en Sanlucar

I’m not a particularly dressy-uppy kind of person. Hailing from a practical, Midwestern family, both my sister and I would prefer a quick ponytail to any amount of fiddling around in front of the mirror. The two of us have even noted how unlikely it is that we would look at ourselves openly in front of a mirror in a public restroom. We dash out, so that no one sees us looking at ourselves.We must have inherited some kind of ingrained belief about liking ourselves being sinful. Isn’t that ridiculous?

In my late teens I remember writing a poem with a line that said, “I see you going out to see painted ladies with itchy stockings and I don’t want to be you.” I was attempting to write an angry treatise on my feelings toward superficial seeming, vanity-stricken women and probably thought I was quite clever. The reality was that I was cut-off from my femininity and ultimately, my own personal power. I had no idea, until I began traveling in Latin America and saw new ways to revere the feminine, that dressing elegantly and wearing make-up could be an expression of femininity instead of a desperate attempt to receive approval.

So now I do these activities from time to time because there is some kind of mysterious power and allure that seems to accompany the process. Why should I be a stranger to feeling good? It’s good vanity, my partner would say. It does feel good, and I love this picture. A bullring, in Spain, on a warm summer evening, wearing a dress and a suit and hearing the crowd roaring, “Ole!” is just plain FUN. That night will never happen again, and we really enjoyed every minute of it.

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5 responses to “Ladies, Put Your Dresses On

  1. I know that photo!!! 🙂 You both look so beautiful.

    I have always had the same issue with dressing and froofing up too. Receiving my hormones and therefore breasts at an early age did nothing to help this affliction in my world!

    You ARE so right that women do naturally channel their creativity into their personal style and appearance. (Some to a fault!) But there is a reason for this too that dates way back to the beginning of our species… that is that men are very if not primarily visually oriented beings. So, in order to propagate, the female had to stand out and to look healthy… like good stock~ Our focus has changed somewhat from good stock to sex kitten, but the process is the same underneath.

    Great post! You really are beautiful, inside and out.
    xo mia

    • Mia, I totally agree. I’m able to finally recognize that men are simply geared-up by different things than women. And as you aptly remind us, this has its roots in a long-time-ago kind of way. We might as well own it. Thanks for dropping by. xoxo

  2. Are you surprised to hear that I can relate to your post!? It was my duty (I may have been influenced by that poem you wrote) to rise 15 minutes before I left for school and put my hair in a pony tail…It was the P-town resistance movement. Then I realized after-MN that I liked skirts and even feel sort of empowered wearing mascara (perhaps for all the wrong reasons). I read this piece on feminism yesterday immediately before I read your post. Food for thought. http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/06/20/lady-power/

    • Thoughtful article; thanks for the link! Left me wanting to stay open for the possibility of finding some easy spaces between tomboy and LadyGaga. We don’t have to be either/or, right? Both/and, both/and….

      What were the wrong reasons for wearing mascara? How could it be wrong?

      • Mascara–what’s wrong with it. Good question. I suppose it’s my Puritan training that makes me feel guilty for wanting to look attractive and/or be noticed by others. I’m still not sure how I think about it, feminism and my own desire for liberation from “oppressive” expectations of femininity. I certainly would like to find that space between as you say.

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