The photo posted on Facebook shows a tall slender woman in a long leather skirt. Her top is sleeveless with mesh panels that reveal the curve of her full breasts. A celtic tattoo circles her upper arm. She wears dark sunglasses and hooped earrings. The lines on her neck and the veins on her hands are the only hint that she is an older woman.
The caption under the photo says ‘I think not, what about you?’
There are 360 responses and almost all of them are negative. The commenters (nearly all women) use words like ‘trashy’, ‘inappropriate’, ‘disgusting’, and ‘cheap’.
Why is it that women feel compelled to criticise the way other women dress? In the grand arena of life, it makes no difference to me if you have your boobs on display or you’re wearing paint stained track suit pants. It is impossible to judge anyone’s morals, beliefs, values or god forbid ‘worthiness’ based on their clothing choice. You can wear whatever you want as far as I’m concerned.
This outpouring of venom based on someone’s clothes has made me pause and wonder why we find it necessary to comment on the appearance of our sisters.
Are we intimidated by the way some women don’t need external validation in order to feel good about themselves?
Are we sexualising them — assuming some kind of ‘male gaze’ that weighs up women in terms of their sexual appeal?
Are we offended because they don’t measure up to our narrow cultural definition of beauty?
Not liking someone’s outfit is a totally legitimate preference, in the same way that I’m entitled to prefer vanilla ice-cream over chocolate. But it doesn’t mean I have the right to proclaim from the rooftops that all people who eat chocolate ice-cream or trashy, disgusting and trying too hard.
Some of us get dressed in the morning without worrying about the approval of strangers. Some of us wear clothes that make us feel good — and good can mean playful, or crazy, and yes, it can even mean sexy.
Michelle Poston Coombes sums it up nicely. [Feel free to insert your own age where you see the number 50].
You are over 50 for fuck’s sake. Wear whatever you want. If you’ve made it to 50 and still need to consult articles on how to dress appropriately then you are so missing out on one of the best things about being over 50. One of the best things about getting older is realizing that we don’t have to spend our energy worrying what other people think and we get to be comfortable in our own skin with our own freak flags.
If you don’t like the way someone dresses and feel compelled to comment, then ask yourself why. What’s really going on?