A matter of appearance

The other night my wife and I were walking around our local Target store enjoying a capitalist repast. I noticed, ahead of us, an older lady clad in a leopard-print dress that hit her about mid thigh. She was sporting some seriously high heels and tastefully done make up. She was walking around with what could have been her spouse (who was happily doting over her). It was a wonderful and lovely sight to behold. Until…I started seeing the looks she was getting.

From every angle, every isle, other women were giving her “the look”. You know the look — a scathing, scalding-hot glare laced with venom. It cuts, burns, and wounds. Fortunately, the older woman was completely oblivious to the scorn being tossed her way. The majority of the women dressing her down were average to plain looking women who either resented her for having the strength and pride to carry herself in such away, or were jealous they couldn’t pull off such a look. Or maybe, just maybe, they didn’t approve of her attire.

No matter the reason…I want to say shame on those women for judging someone they didn’t know…or judging someone period!

Of course, this is my world, so I’ll take it a few steps farther.

Life is hard. At every crossroads we face yet even more adversity; so we do everything we can to make the journey as wonderful and pleasant as possible. Sometimes that means we adorn ourselves according to our heart and soul’s desire. For some, the adornment is as plain as possible; for you…it may mean going out on a limb and expressing something that, at its core, might well be the purest truth you have. Either way, it’s not only your right to express yourself through your attire — it’s something I wholeheartedly encourage.

Society has, for some strange reason, placed some incredibly rigid boundaries on the way men and women dress. Where they came from, I have no idea…but these boundaries are unhealthy, sometimes damaging, and should be removed. It never ceases to amaze me how people of all races, nationalities, religion, gender, age, class…are so quick to judge one another based simply on on attire.

  • Men wear pants
  • Women wear dresses (and pants and pretty much anything they want)
  • Muslim women wear burka
  • Boys wear blue
  • Girls wear pink
  • Within the world of business blue and khaki are the norm
  • Shirts must be tucked
  • Goths wear black

Growing up poor, it was an incredible challenge to not be the brunt of other children’s jokes — simply because my clothing didn’t fit the accepted societal norm. This happens all the time; kids are bullied, hazed, hated, and ultimately outcast based on the clothing afforded them by their financial status or their lack of desire to fit in. That bullying can take a very tragic turn and lead to physical harm or death.

I was always a rebel. Part of this was by design — to overcome the limits placed on me by my parents income. I was drawn to the fashions outside the norm — and so I became accustomed to ridicule and the stares of others. It took me quite some time to get beyond the hatred thrown my way…but eventually I did. Another part of it was to just have fun. I always thought, “Why should women have all the fun, the choice, the whole range of the fashion pallet?”.

But at the crux of the issue is hatred. It may be watered-down, but a rose by any other name…

My “rebel” nature followed me into adult hood. That overpowering desire to buck the trends and be something everyone else is afraid of being — unique. You’ll often find me sporting a kilt or skirt. And, yes, I still suffer the slings and arrows of those around me. In fact, I recently posted a few pics of myself on my Facebook page, donning a kilt. I noticed, very quickly, the number of “likes” that page had dwindled. My initial reaction? Good riddance.

Those of you who have generously become a part of my world know that, to me, being honest and truthful to ones self is the single most important lesson we all have to learn in life. It’s not until we can be true to ourselves that we actually find out who we are, and those who know their truth are far happier than those that do not. I know who I am. It’s taken me decades to come to that very honest conclusion and I clench that truth in my hands as if my life depended upon it. So when I notice people tossing their scornful glances my way, it makes me want to laugh. I know they haven’t come to terms with their truth and the presence of someone who has makes them quake in their Blahniks.

To all of this I say — why are we not celebrating style and the enormous amount of diversity on the planet. Life is filled with challenges, drama, and pain as well as joy, hope, love, and wonder. We adorn ourselves in the colors that best express our souls and should never, in any way, be mocked, bullied, or harassed. We’re almost upon the time of year when we are to be thankful — and I call out to you to be thankful for the wondrous diversity that gives our world so much color. Be you a drag queen, a business man, a priest, a school teacher, a straight-laced republican, a scrub-wearing nurse, a cross dresser, a gay hunter, a straight dancers, or a card-carrying member of the shirt-tucker army…no matter who you are, reach out to those around you and do not hate…do not judge.

Life should be a pageant to be celebrated.

Love and be loved. Wear your heart and soul on a colorful sleeve or a sleeveless, a-line dress. Just be you and be you with pride and honesty.