Saturday, February 4, 2017

Plaid Effects


Preface: I had begun this essay a couple of weeks ago, well before the Twitter #DressLikeAWoman protest went viral. I would like to point out that as of right now, there appears to be no proof that President Trump has made specific references to how women should dress since he took office. Things he’s said prior to that are well documented so I will not make any remarks on those. The spirit of the movement interests me. It has led to women from all walks of life to share how they really live- and dress- to a wide audience and with pride. That’s a great thing.

If you weren’t aware, I went to an all-girl Catholic high school. Yes, many many MANY years ago I actually WAS what so many girl bands have pretended to be and what an entire genre of fantasizers dream of: a plaid be-skirted school girl. My time was even before Katie Holmes graced the halls, so I have a long view on what I’m about to discuss.

Misc K-Pop artists, Taken from Timmdee’s article The Not-So-Innocent Side of the “Innocent” K-Pop Girl Group Look.
I had many opportunities in high school to take on a variety of roles and challenges- both academic and otherwise. The school managed to provide a fairly diverse community that allowed the students to begin developing into their own selves before sending us off into the wider world. I remember some teachers who challenged me to think critically, speak clearly and act decisively in whatever it was that I believed in. I thank them for their efforts. Even the people and things that bothered me at the time taught me something in the long run. The uniforms we wore made life a bit more simple and allowed us students the opportunity to weigh our daily accomplishments more on real merit than whether or not we “looked good” doing it. I had an amazing high school experience and it has definitely positively influenced my life to this very day. Some ways in the exact opposite direction that my parents probably intended when they first enrolled me, but that’s a tale for another day.

It wasn’t until well after I graduated that I discovered how close this adult-to-schoolgirl interest had been existing alongside my life back then and only in recent years how worldwide this phenomenon has become. Yes, men way older than should be looking really do like those uniforms. I would recommend that anyone NOT in a school with uniforms really reconsider donning the look to appeal to this particular interest.

As Timmdee points out in his Soompi.com article, “sexy” is fine and everywhere- male, female or anywhere else along the spectrum. It’s an essential part of adult lives. However, when someone tailors their demeanor or speech to appeal to a notion that puts themselves or another in an inferior relative position, that’s when the trouble begins. It propagates destructive stereotypes. It negatively affects everyone involved: adults, any children on the sidelines and all those teenagers.  All of them. Girls in school skirts are just plain sexy? Why can’t girls wear school skirts (or pants or whatever) simply to show the world they are going to a tough school? At this point, it’s perhaps easier to get rid of the school uniforms than to change the societal view but would it solve the actual issue?

When women decide to assume roles like this they take away from their own real merits: intelligence, humor, athleticism, artistic abilities and hard-earned maturity. It’s hard to say no to, but it’s an important effort. This essay dovetails with a previous essay of mine (The Word Soup We’re Living In) on using words that work to keep us all on a level playing field with each other. Here, I’m advocating the same balance on what we do. The future daughters of the women of today may face even more intense challenges because of the choices made today. We have the power to make other, more positive, statements for a better future.

Kids and teens need to try out new things: ideas, interests, clothing, jobs, etc. Teens are watching and trying things out for themselves (as they should) as they stand at the doorway to adulthood. Adults should be there as guides, challengers and supporters. They should not be participants in a system that by definition puts one member in a belittled, vulnerable position.

To all women today: I encourage you to work daily to express all the amazingly positive qualities women possess. I am encouraged by new networking sprouting up today, like 500womenscientists.org. Show your physical, mental and spiritual strengths to the world in ways that inspire those younger than you, impress those who are equal to you, and amaze those older than you.

Let’s show the world what we can all be- truly respectful of ourselves and of others regardless of gender.

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