Today I am wearing a new blue skirt with a pretty sunburst pattern and a handkerchief hem that floats around my feet as I walk. I have ten bangle bracelets around my left wrist and two of them jingle softly. I am enjoying a day of girly bliss. All this would not have been possible ten years ago.
Growing up I was a tomboy, a girl who loved to climb trees and play chase games. I did not wear skirts voluntarily. I had to wear them at school—I went to a Catholic establishment with a tragic plaid dress code that enforced strict gender parameters on the uniforms. The girls wore ugly green skirts and jumpers. The boys wore ugly grey pants. I envied the boys.
Skirts got in the way. They were not convenient for the kinds of things I wanted to do, and worse than that, my mother wanted me to wear them. Ah—the kiss of death! If I were a product with a slogan of its very own, that slogan would be: “You can’t make me.” It’s not just my mother that inspires that in me—it’s anyone. I am determined to resist anything that someone else asks me to do.
I used to see this as a sign of fierce independence, of strength and determination. I’ve realized since that it’s one of my greatest weaknesses. By automatically rejecting anything that others suggest, I am allowing them to control me as surely as if I took every suggestion they made. A new marionette string goes in every time I refuse to do something, because that request becomes an anti-command. My mother’s desire that I wear skirts became: “You must not wear skirts.” Her desire to see me be more feminine prevented me from openly liking pink, one of my very favorite colors. In the midst of all this rebellion I forgot to be independent, to decide to wear or not wear things based on my own preferences.
I’ve been changing that, ferreting out these hidden commands within my system. I’m still not wearing the tiered prairie skirts and ruffled blouses my mother wanted me in, but I’ve fully embraced hot pink and sparkly jewelry. I’m all grown up and I’m finally choosing my own outfits–yay me!
Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:
22. Examine your own outfit. Is it really what you want to be wearing or are you letting someone else accessorize your life?