Monday, December 09, 2013

Schooled

I was just browsing Shakespeare's Sister on a break and literally had my life interpreted for me.

In an article about high-heels, Melissa McEwan explains that for fat women, heels (which have been criticized by some feminists as a form of self harm) may seem a necessary defense:
Fat women have all kinds of narratives about sloppiness, laziness, dirtiness to overcome. Sometimes heels are a crucial part of looking "put together" in a way that sufficiently convinces people that we care about ourselves, that manages to counteract pervasive cultural narratives that fat people don't care about ourselves… I get treated completely differently at a $20 hair salon if I'm dressed up or dressed down. Two totally different experiences. I get treated differently at the doctor's office, and at the emergency room. I can't go to the ER in sweatpants, because I'll get shittier treatment. In an emergency, I have to worry if I am dressed up enough to prove that I deserve respect and care.
All round horrible. Points I completely empathize with without having experienced them myself. (Or so I think.)

And then the part that changes the way I count my life. Melissa McEwan continues:
I am speaking to my own experience here, but many women with other marginalized bodies have the same experience. Women of color, trans* women, women with disabilities, and other marginalized classes of women may strongly relate to the idea of having to be "put together" in order to be treated as human beings.
That would totally explain why after years of dressing in jeans and homespun tunics and putting a lot of thought into looking like I didn't care how I looked in India, I've become--after years of living in the West--consumed by fashion. Because looking like a vagabond* is cute only if people know that you're playing and know you're not really one.

*(as the nuns at my private school may have said)

_

2 comments:

Attorney at Large said...

I would extrapolate this to all women. I looked very young until I was in my mid-thirties, and I'm very short, and heels not only add to the look, but in a courtroom, being a few extra inches tall matters.

So even in my regular life, this is why I dress up (by Portland standards) for everything except for gatherings of friends, when I don't have to.

(Granted, heels...heels are problematic, because both my husband and my back hate them. But I have a glorious collection of heels and a growing, glorious collection of ballet flats.) :)

maya said...

All women, certainly and some women more than others.

FWIW, I'm always arguing for heels as a way of countering female "smallness" too :).