So, the other day I was shopping, and I was drawn to a pink belt with pink rhinestones and pink feathers (I know!). That is so not my style, right?
but it called to me, so I took it to the cash..
Then, as I waited in line, I thought: Wid. you know you’ll never wear this
So I left the long line and put it back
For a long time, I have taken pride in saying that I was not a pink girl,
I only wear heels if socially necessary (a must at Saudi weddings),
and If I must be dragged to the salon for for hair and make up, then please make it quick, and give me something good to read while I endure the painful time-wasting process of beautification.
See, I’m a practical girl, I’d say. I’m a tomboy, I’d say, comfort before beauty, I’d say.
I resented dressing up to conform to social roles. Once, at a big gathering, a woman -in front of everyone- looked at my hands and said:
“Wid, you should really get your nails done…for your husband”.She then added proudly,
I get mine done every week.
I was too amused to be offended. I laughed, and in my head thought, “honey, weekly manicures are aint never gonna make it onto my to do list”.
So you can see why I was surprised to be drawn to a belt with pink feathers! But they gave me that “feeling”.. ladies, you know what I’m talking about.. that joy and pleasure, in just dressing up, in holding a clutch that feels just right in your hand, in hearing your bracelets clink..and feeling the weight of chunky earrings pulling at your lobe.
Remember when you were really young, and tested your clothes according to universal strict princess-girl criteria:
Does the dress expand when I twirl?
Does it spread out like a cupcake? or like a fan?
Do my heals click on tiles?
Is my headband shiny?
A memory came flooding back to me. It’s a secret, but I think I’m old enough to confess and not get into trouble. When my mother went out, my sister and I would sneak into her bedroom. We would wear her jewelry, slip on her heels, spray her perfume, choose our imaginary princes (we always fought over who would get Peter Pan), and step into the ballroom (her bathroom, the only place in the house with tiles..you know.. so our heels would click, obviously). And there we were, having fun, in heels too big for us, definitely uncomfortable for us, pearls dangling to our knees…and happy.
So, where has this little girl been for the last 20 years? After some reflection, I’m understanding what happened to me..and I suspect some of you girls might find it familiar.
Why did I dress up at the age of 5? I had no audience, no man to impress (or to defy). I dressed up for me, for my pleasure, I just followed my instinct.my..femininity..nothing could have been more natural.
Then I grew up into a society (and this is not middle-east specific) that favoured men, and shadowed women. So without realizing it, I did what my young, inexperienced self felt she had to do to to survive, and to thrive. I learned to hide some parts of me. I thought: Don’t draw too much attention to yourself as a woman if you want a place in this man’s world. Besides, if you dress up, you risk being one of them, the brainless airhead Stepford trophy wives. Don’t be a silly beauty whose goal in life was to secure a man-and the harder part ha..to “keep” him. As if anyone ever really “gets” or “keeps” another human being.
In fact: don’t even need a man, just be a man. So, I put on my trousers, and flat shoes, and went to medical school. I proved I had brains and graduated first amongst my class (and I’m talking first among both the women’s and the men’s college. that’s right sista). I kept going. I came to Canada, I learned to drive, I succeeded in this man’s world. I proved I can do anything a man can do, and more (what? do you known men who carried their own winter tires, and loaded them into the car while 9 months pregnant? I didn’t think so).
Phew..so I’ve done it.. and now? Now that I have nothing more to prove to the world (or to myself), guess who’s waking up and having a nice long stretch? That beautiful feminine pink-feathers part of me. Now I can wear my uncomfortable heels..if it pleases me. And if people take me for a fool because of them, I am so beyond caring. And if someone is threatened by my audacity to be beautiful and smart and professionally competitive, tough luck for them. I’m done hiding.
This is freedom, ladies:
Dress up (or down) for you
Be guided by your morals and beliefs and pleasures
full exposure and full coverage can both objectify women
Find your rule book, your balance
Do what feels right
Choose beauty if you feel like it
Choose comfort if you feel like it
Don’t dress to impress
Don’t dress to defy
Don’t dress to comply
For me, for now, that means:
I will not apologize for my sneakers at work
but I won’t apologize for my jewelled stilettos either
Turquoise is still my favourite colour
but I’ll re-explore pink
I’ll do hair and make-up
but I’ll do it myself in 15 minutes thank you very much
I will go back to the store and buy that belt (ok, only if it goes on sale)
And when I’m at home in my comfy fleece pyjamas,
with no audience at all
I will wear that belt
I will flip it over
and wear it as a crown
If that is what pleases me