TRYING TO UNDERSTAND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SHAMING AND ADDRESSING WHAT IS APPROPRIATE ATTIRE
I received a call from a long-time friend who was really disturbed. She wanted me to talk with some people, of all ages, about the proper attire for events.
My mother was very particular about our attire.
We had school clothes, church clothes and play clothes and never should any overlap. Essentially appropriate attire was outlined for the times in our lives and we had to govern ourselves accordingly.
We did not wear play clothes to school or church.
We did not wear school clothes to play or to church. We did not wear church clothes to school or play.
I didn’t wear blue jeans until I was in high school and at the first sign of mosquitos, it was off to Valley Fair in Newark, NJ to purchase what has become a thorn in my side for decades. Who designed bras?
Anyway, as I got older, well actually once I was out on my own; I had to add another category: club/party attire.
That’s right, I didn’t wear party clothes to school, church or play. It wasn’t that my outfits were risqué or really revealing; I think I just felt that your dress/attire determined your attitude or behavior. Well times have changed and so have folks’ ways of thinking.
Which brings me to my truth.
I realize that folks do what they want to when they want to and how they want to.
I’ve taken to shrugging my shoulders and just trying to live my best life with the mantra, “if they like it, I love it!”
I also look at my bank account to see if what someone is wearing actually impacts my bottom line.
I guess as I get older, I just don’t have the energy to deal with the “clap back” that comes because today folks don’t like to be told anything. They want to wear what they want to when they want to and how they want to.
Never you mind that we are given access to all your body parts — the good, the bad, and sadly the unfortunate ugly.
There was a time that we felt that there was a time and place for everything. You know how we named items “house” clothes, slippers, etc? Or we had “under” clothes?
Now there is no shame in the fame or the game. Folks will wear their pajamas and bedroom slippers to school, the grocery store, and yes, church.
I want you to consider this if you wear your “house” clothes outside.
First for those who wear your slippers outside, you are stepping on all kinds of gross stuff (people and animals pooping, spitting, etc) on the ground and in the grass. Then you track that stuff into your home. Ugh!
Then there are your clothes.
You wear the pajamas out into the world, on public transportation and some of everyplace and the elements attach to your clothes. You are hugging all kinds of folks— some you like and some you don’t. Then you get home, bringing those demons into your place of sanctity.
Now here comes the bad part. Some of you will climb into your bed wearing those same clothes!
I said I wasn’t going to say anything about how our dress codes are no longer existent.
However, I will use this one time to put it all out in the open and you can clap back and feel good about your interaction.
First and foremost, I must say that there are times when you should practice a little decorum when dressing.
Yes, there are items of dress that are not appropriate for every situation and there’s nothing wrong with adhering to what is proper and in order! Okay you ask who determines what is appropriate.
Every outfit is not for every B O D Y.
But guess what, I am leaving it up to you.
I am going to protect my space and my peace by telling you to “do you.”
Last century, the editors at the Chicago Defender addressed what is appropriate on the pages of the very popular Black-owned newspaper. The message was especially for readers coming from the south to the “big city.”
On the front page of the paper, readers were told everything from not leaving the house with hair rollers in their hair to picking the lint off their clothes before wearing outside. Can’t do that today.
All the whining and crying and threatening lawsuits would be just the beginning.
But this is the society we created.
My great-great grands may be walking around butt-naked.
Now think about that…
I guess we are regressing and starting all over again! Maybe!