Category Archives: Fashion

Halloween makes me Cry

Halloween: How stuff is.

Halloween: How stuff really isn’t.

via the fabulous Fucknosexisthalloweencostumes.

Take a minute to check it out. And realise that for men, Halloween choices are virtually infinite. And that for women, the choice is ‘woman in sexy outfit’.

Seriously? THE WOMEN’S ‘COSTUMES’ DON’T EVEN LOOK LIKE WHAT THEY’RE SUPPOSED TO BE!

Seriously, check it out.

Ever seen a pilgrim look like that bloke? Why, yes, indeedy. Ever seen a fucking pilgrim dressed like that woman?? Are you frickin’ kidding me? No wonder they burnt them as witches.

The bloke looks like a fucking Angry Bird, right? You get that the woman is just a woman wearing a dress with an Angry Bird on it??? Right?

And scary? Because excuse me, but aren’t Halloween costumes supposed to be scary? Sure, the male mummy is scary. The female mummy looks like she’s just stepped off a Lanvin catwalk. Scary, yes, but not in the traditional sense.

And quite apart from anything else: DO YOU KNOW HOW FUCKING COLD IT IS THIS TIME OF YEAR?? I know which Melon I’d prefer to be and I’m Northern.

And just in case you think the kids are left out of this idiocy, check this out. No prizes – no, none at all – for guessing which type of ‘child’ is hiding behind that werewolf mask. And no, no prizes for guessing the same for the Reaper mask. Oh, and just in case you were really confused, no prizes for guessing which type of ‘child’ is wearing the pretty dress, complete with swirling skirt and out-turned leg. Because nothing says scary like a pretty dress and an out-turned leg.

Fuck’s sake.


Boy in a Dress: How it Ends

There is no answer, is there?  There is no consensus on whether I should allow my two-year-old boy to go forth wearing a dress.

So you know what?  I’m just going to let it happen.  If he asks for a dress, he’ll get one.  If he wants to put it on, he can.  If he wants to go out in it, he can.

If there’s no right answer?  Fuck it!  Let’s do it. I’m not going to get all Aunty Mabel on his arse because he happens to want to wear fabric swishing around both legs instead of one at a time.

It’s as good an answer as any.


Boy in a Dress

L’il Boo wants to wear a dress.

If I were a different kind of person, I would get all panicky and start throwing Tonka trucks in his general direction, but I am not that kind of person.  Not least because I know where this desire has come from.

Every evening, to avoid school morning meltdown, I ask Boogie the following question: ‘Skirt, dress or trousers?’  She picks one, then I get two of the chosen items out of her wardrobe and she points to the one she wants to wear the following day.

Whilst largely not being arsed about clothes, Boogie is very specific about what kind of clothes she finds acceptable on her skin at any given time.  Some specifications are long-term, non-negotiable (buttons, frills), others are entirely arbitrary and fleeting (‘today I will scream if my jeans are in the wash, tomorrow I will tremble at the very mention of the word jeans’).

Given that this has been the case since she first turned two, the current system (after much trial and error) really works for us both; I get to take the ring road round Whinesville in the mornings and she gets to feel she ‘chooses’ from a choice simple enough that it doesn’t overwhelm her. Happy smiles all round.  By a conservative estimate I reckoned it’s saved me approximately eleventy million whining hours. Good times, eh?

L’il Boo, ever the copier, has now started to display random, fleeting likes and dislikes to items of clothing (dear god, no!).  So random in fact that I have no idea what he’s objecting to in any given case.  I very much doubt he knows either.  He’s just seen his sister do it, and that’s good enough for him.

He’s also, of course, seen that his sister gets choices he’s not offered.  No ‘dress, skirt or trousers’ for him.  Firstly, he gets offered nothing because I’m desperately trying to convince him he doesn’t have any preferences whatsoever.  Secondly, of course, because boys just don’t get the same choices, do they?  It’s ‘trousers or trousers?’ for them.  Or maybe ‘trousers or jeans?’ if I’m being creative.

The boy wants the option.  Practically, I can give it to him because I have enough of his sister’s old clothes in boxes to find something that fits.  But should I?

My first instinct is to say Fuck it!  The boy wants a dress, he can have a fucking dress!

Two things about this: I know enough to know that ‘Fuck it!’ is my first reaction to most things and to far too many things than can actually be good for me.  I also know the way the world works and it does not work well for boys who wear dresses.

He’s two.  Wearing a dress, he would be entirely unaware of any statement he’s making.  I, on the other hand, would be acutely aware of the statement he’s making and, because he’s two, it would be a statement about me more than him.  I’m already known as the resident weirdo feminist amongst both friends and acquaintances.  L’il Boo rocking a dress will do naught to lessen this reputation.

I will be accused (just ask Storm’s parents) of using my child to make a political and social statement, one which, bless him, he can’t possibly have had a say in.  That he chose a dress will not be a defence, merely another example of my man-bashing indoctrination of my children (y’know, like we feminists do).

Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a problem with any of that (Fuck it! I say – see?)  If anybody has a problem with me letting my son wear a dress, it’s just that – their problem.

But, though L’il Boo’s only two, he understands shock, and disgust, and horror and disapproval.  He understands all that just by looking at people’s faces.  Just like we all do.  And he will not understand that those faces are in reaction to his clothes, not to him.  And – have I said he’s only two? – he’s too young to have that explained to him.

Why would I want to put him through that?  It’s been bad enough when he goes forth wearing pink trousers (which, along with green trousers, are currently top of his ‘like’ list).  Trust me, people do not like being flummoxed when trying to assign children to a gender box.  On the other hand, why should I restrict him in an entirely unnecessary way?  My only stipulation for Boogie’s clothing choices are that they be weather-appropriate and even that’s fairly laxly enforced.  Why should it be different for L’il Boo?

Is he too young to wear a dress? Or I am just copping out, bowing to The Man?

And if I do cop out here, where’s the fucking line?  What do I compromise on next to stop bigots looking sideways at my children?

Answers on a postcard, please.


An Addendum

genderless partywear

I meant to add something else on the bottom of that last post which is that I also trust my children.  I trust them to come to their own conclusions and I trust them to have the humanity to make those conclusions good ones.

Mainly, I was thinking about this point because of this I read in the Guardian on Saturday in the ‘Gay Dad’ column:

On the way home [my son] chats animatedly about the afternoon while digging out the contents of his party bag. He mentions, en passant, that one of their friends turned up to the party wearing a tunic dress. Apparently he often turns up wearing one.

‘Why, I ask. “He just likes them,” Ed replies. Do the other boys tease him? I ask. “Nah, he’s a really good guy… Yay! I got a Transformer!” Ed can’t believe I’m asking so many questions about a subject he obviously considers relatively humdrum.

‘I ponder how much has changed between my generation and his. The other fathers and I don’t quite know what to say to each other because they work in finance and I work in fashion, while our eight-year-old sons will happily run around playing games together barely batting an eyelid that one of their number is wearing a dress.’

Because sometimes, children’s conclusions aren’t just good, they’re way better than what adults come up with.


Bodies

I’m currently reading ‘Bodies‘ by Susie Orbach.  I’ve never quite got round to reading ‘Fat is a Feminist Issue’, so this is my first experience with Orbach and I have to say, she’s got some pretty bloody interesting things to say for herself.  In a nutshell, Bodies basically explores how, in the last thirty or some years, our whole concept of what a ‘body’ is has changed from being merely the physical structure housing a person, to being the sum of what a person is, and as such, something that we must now ‘perfect’ in order to ‘perfect’ ourselves as people.  Or bodies must be tamed, made to conform to ever decreasing notions of of what is physically acceptable, or we will be found wanting as people.

This made me laugh (wryly):

People whose wardrobes are so various, jangled and changeable as to engender in the observer a sense of not knowing who they are encountering from one meeting to another are not living easily in their bodies.’

For a large portion of my adolescence and early adulthood, this described my wardrobe perfectly, and whilst I knew even then that I wasn’t ‘living easily in my body’, I never connected my sartorial promiscuity precisely to that fact.  I just imagined I was too damn hip to be tied down to one fashion tribe.

But then I guess I did kind of make the connection eventually.  About ten or so years ago, I came to the quite startling revelation that every single item of clothing I’d ever bought and never really worn had one thing in common: they were perfectly good items of clothing, but only for people who weren’t me.  More precisely, they were for the person I wanted to be.  Even more precisely, they were for the people I wanted to be; because when you want to be anybody other than yourself, there are a lot of choices.  It took a little while to rid myself of inappropriate clothing choices completely, but from then on in, I couldn’t stop myself from asking Is this me?  Or is this the glamourous Soho private club member who is universally considered to be the life and soul of the place and who occasionally crawls across the piano in a sequinned shot-to-the-hip number and croons soft show tune interpretations?  Or is it the stylish Left Bank intellectual who spends her day reading Sartre before donning a YSL mac and spending the evening drinking absinthe at the Zinc bar, later picking up some skinny-hipped youth and orgasming over Simone de Beauvoir?  Or is it… You get the idea, I think.

A lot of choices.

And as I got older I began to find it increasingly ridiculous if I did purchase something which the answer to Is it me? was no, no it really isn’t.  I had fondly thought that I was just growing up, but I realise that I was ‘growing in’, growing into myself.  And in much the same way as women under the age of about 35 almost universally find it impossible to attain the ‘capsule wardrobe’ so beloved of fashion magazines, I could no more have limited my fashion ‘choices’ when I was younger than I could have made sense, in any shorter time than I eventually did, of the events of my childhood and the effect they had on me.  I had to grow into my self – into my actual self – before I could accept my body for what it was and clothe it accordingly.

I think it’s because of my own journey that I have endeavoured to encourage Boogie to be unthinking about her own attire, to view clothes as simply coverings which change according to season and activity.  I want her not to have to walk the same journey I did.  I want her to just ‘be’ in clothes in the same way I want her to just ‘be’ in her body.  I want her to ‘live easily’ in it.  Given the preoccupation we now have with the body and the clothes it wears being projections of our very selves, however, I wonder whether I have done the right thing.  Boogie may not yet judge her own body, or her own clothes, but others will, and indeed already do (apparently, she ‘dresses like a boy’, said with a smile of faux-concern). Am I effectively preventing my daughter from understanding the relationship between how you look and dress, and how you’re treated by others?  Is it possible to teach her to understand these things without making them chains to bind her with? Is it possible to teach her to comprehend others’ perceptions whilst at the same time making her aware that she doesn’t have to accept those perceptions as relevant to her?

I’m honestly not sure, but one thing I do know: if she does end up on the same journey as me, I’ve got way more wrong that giving her the wrong clothes.


Pants-tastic!

It is one of the ironies of my life that, in the midst of my efforts at gender-neutral parenting, stands a six year old girl who refuses to wear trousers.

It is made only slightly less ironic by the fact that it has absolutely nothing to do with any gender perception she has of trousers and everything to do with a pathological hatred of buttons.

From the age of two onwards, I could dress Boogie in anything – curtains, a suit of armour, barbed wire – she didn’t really give a shit as long as it didn’t come with buttons.  Trousers, invariably, have buttons (or poppers, which if anything, she hated even more), or at least the ones she had in her wardrobe when this whole thing started did and by the time I experimented with an elasticated waist, it was too late.  Trousers, with their devilish penchant for round fastenings, were out.  Totally, totally out.  And you could not even mention the word ‘jeans’ in our house.  Boogie will actually back away from a pair of jeans in a shop like she’s backing away from an errant grizzly bear – hands out, eyes down but watchful.  Boogie is actually scared of jeans.

Or I should say: was scared of jeans.

some kinda miracle

Because this – ta-dah! – is a picture of the lovely Boogie wearing jeans!!

Believe me, I understand that this is not a universal thing.  This is not going to be one of those instances where you think you’re all alone and, when you finally break the code of silence, you find you’re not alone at all and that so many people have been suffering silently with you there’s going to be an Oprah special on it and you’re the star guest.  It really isn’t going to be one of those things.

This is a picture of Boogie.  In jeans.

There were times I never thought I’d be able to write those words.

See?  This really isn’t resonating with you, is it?

Trust me, I have been hugging myself for two days.  Why?  Well, not because I think jeans are the answer to anything, but because we have moved forward.  Boogie actually said these words: ‘I’m not scared of jeans anymore.’

My mind spins!  Who knows, maybe progress will continue until she finally stops asking to go and see Alvin and the Fucking Chipmunks, Part II: Even More Misogynistic than Part I.

I can dream, amirite?


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