1 September 2010

Grow a Pair

Lately, I have run across a number of woman who care too much about what other people think of them.  Worse still, they are allowing other people to dictate how they feel about themselves.  I think it came to a head for me recently on a sewing discussion board.  A poster asked for opinions on a fall fashion trend.  When many of the responses were dissenting (most posters were respectful and many were quite funny), it was suggested that this negative view of the trend would discourage many woman.  They would feel too shy to indicate that they were fans of the trend and/or they would be too intimidated to try out the trend for themselves.  After this was pointed out, I felt bad (I was one of the dissenters*) and I posted an apology just in case I had made anyone feel bad.

Well, I have been mulling this over in my head for the last few days and I have to say, I'm feeling less charitable now.  I'm actually kind of annoyed.  Why do women do this? Why do they give a flying fig about what other people think of them?  Why are women so bloody sensitive?  And why do women let others dictate how they feel about themselves?

In Style Magazine
As much as I hate the lack of dressing in North American society these days, I fully endorse a woman choosing to dress as she pleases.  I'd much rather see Ms. Mutton-Dressed-As-Lamb out in the world feeling foxy than the well-dressed clothes horse behaving like a mouse.  There is something about an aura of confidence that makes anyone more attractive, regardless of their garb.

For instance, I think Betsey Johnson dresses like a complete weirdo half the time, but there is no denying that she unapologetically owns her look.  Although, I cannot imagine ever dressing like her, I am drawn to her image - she appears happy, content and above all, comfortable in her own skin.  I'm guessing that she never lets any one's opinion impact her confidence or self-esteem.  In every photo I see of Betsey Johnson, her greatest fashion accessory is her self-assurance.

So, let's all take a page from the book of Betsey.  Remember ladies, you are strong, you are powerful, you are capable of making your own decisions.  If you want to wear a crazy fashion trend or a not-so-crazy fashion trend, go for it.  Maybe you'll look great, maybe you'll look stupid, maybe people will talk about you behind your back or maybe you'll get compliments.  Regardless of the outcome, you'll likely live through the experience.  So, why all the angst? 


*In the end, I actually came around to seeing the positive aspects of the trend, but I still don`t think I`ll be adding it to my wardrobe repertoire.

36 comments:

NancyDaQ said...

I agree about the mouse comment. One of the reason that "women of a certain age" feel so invisible is that they present themselves that way. They are so concerned with appropriateness that they squeeze all the life out of their appearance. Where is the spice, the joy in living?

Betsey always looks absolutely nutty, but at least she's engaged with the world around her and usually smiling. How can you not appreciate someone who ends each show with a cartwheel?

chutchings said...

Absolutely agree. It's not often that I look at someone taking a fashion risk and think they went horribly wrong, I think they are pretty brave for it. The trend may not be for me, but I agree, people should not be dressing to make others happy.

Toby Wollin said...

No one owns that look like Betsey Johnson. If she showed up in a tweed skirt and a little sweater set or a black knit dress, we'd all think she'd gone off the rails. I stopped worrying about how people feel about my sartorial habits a long time ago. Exhibit one: My boot choice for this fall/winter: http://www.bootbay.com/bootbay/product.asp?pf_id=PAAAIALEIELONEEN&path=packer%2C&search_handle=QT1wYWNrZXIsfkI9cGFja2VyLH5EPTk2fkg9Qm9vdGJheX5JPVByaWNlfks9NH5MPTF_TT0xfg&scid=SearchResults&spoffset=2&s_id=0
I plan to wear those with pants, skirts and dresses; I might even go whole 1930s Hollywood movie heroine and make a pair of gabardine culottes.

Erica B. said...

This is why I usually avoid the sewing messageboards. I'll comment on somethings, but when it comes to fashion trends, I just sit back. On certain sewing messageboards, there seems to be a certain bit of "groupthink" that subscribes to the notion that you have to be 6 feet tall and a 100 lbs to look good in anything that's modern and trendy. I can't tell you how many times I've read, "Oh, that'll probably only look good on someone tall and skinny." When I read comments like that, it says more about the commenter and their own insecurities than it does about the person asking for opinions or advice.

Debbie Cook said...

I'm NOT one of those women so I agree 200% with your post. It's probably why I pretty much got kicked off the "other" sewing board. (Voluntarily left, after getting reamed in public by a moderator.) And while I do appreciate that one of the objectives of the board you're referencing is to keep things civil, I more than see your point WRT that particular thread. IMO, too much was read into comments, things that just were not there.

Pattern Junkie said...

Go Shannon! I totally agree with you. Where what you love, no matter what others think! (I'm annoyed by seasonal color analysis and style guides/body type rules in the same way -- while it's great to use them for inspiration to step out of your comfort zone, many people use them as hard and fast rules. Somehow I think we're all smart enough to figure out what colors/styles make us happy!)

And now I'm dying to know what trend you're talking about...I may have to poke around certain site...

Uta said...

You're absolutely right! I'd like to add that a world where everyone dresses "in good taste" (and agrees on what good taste is) would be booooring. Right?

LindaC said...

I agree and don't see where your comments or anybody else's comments would have or should have dissuaded someone from voicing their own opinion. Seriously, it's just an opinion. Everyone has their own and if people are intimidated by someone else's opinion then shame on them. I sometimes (to myself) call these people sheep. There are too many sheep on these sewing message boards.

Linda T said...

You said it well, Shannon. And LindaC: at our house those type folks are referred to as "Sheeple." Way too many sheeple in the world today, IMO. :)

amber said...

Fantastic post! I wholeheartedly agree!

Mardel said...

Fantastic post and I agree wholeheartedly as well. Many people get too wrapped up in fear of what other people might think. Wear what you love, live what you love. And opinions are just that, opinions.

I like the "sheepl" comment. Great term.

mermaids said...

i am incredibly curious as to the "offending" fashion trend. :) i have dropped off of most sewing message boards/email lists because there usually seems to be a couple of "popular" posters who get to decide what's in and what's out. if you have the audacity to disagree with them... well, it's just not done. it is too much like high school all over again.

you are absolutely right. the way a person carries herself can make or break an outfit.

Scandalous said...

omg that pink dress is awesome! I'm usually just a lurker, but I love your blog and that dress rocks socks!

Marie-Christine said...

Certainely there's something wrong with apologizing for what you think. Yes, it's best if you don't express it in terms too insulting of the disagreeing party. But really, there are limits to niceness, especialy among women, Queen Victoria is still dead. Glad to see that's true for (some) Canadians too :-).

Laura said...

Your point is well taken, but I did think that some commenters in that thread (not you if I recall) took the "all trends are foolish and so is this one" tack, which I found unnecessary. It's one thing to say you don't like a particular silhouette, but another to imply that anyone who does is foolish.

Anyway, I agree with your post otherwise - we all should wear what we love and enjoy it, and not get too caught up in what others may think.

Nancy K said...

I do agree with you Shannon, and I can't think of a time I've seen Betsey Johnson not look like she's having a great time. Part of the issue with women acting like mice, is also that women criticize personally instead of constructively and second women tend to see all criticism that way whether meant that way or not. But, people in general seem to have a real problem with other peoples opinions lately. If it's not what you believe than it's not only wrong, but you are a terrible person for thinking that way. There's an ad for a conservative politician running locally that really bothers me and the tag line is 'he's not one of us'. Dangerous thinking as far as I'm concerned. My point being that this behavior is not just about fashion, but it's everywhere these days.

Gorgeous Things said...

A-freaking-MEN!!! I saw that thread and when it started going down the rabbit hole I was one of the ones who said "You bet I'll wear that!"

I dress to please myself, and the last year has taught me not to give a flying leap if someone thinks I don't dress well. My friends(I address this to both women and men), if you like the way something looks on you, go for it! I won't cotton to self-appointed fashion police. *I'm* the only official fashion police for my closet. Well, my sister sometimes is too.

Thanks for an excellent post, Shannon.

Gail said...

Interesting my own daughter is going through this sort of self evaluation and has come to the conclusion that woman are unnecessarily hard on each other and pull each other into bland conformity. She had to travel 12000 kms from home and work with homeless people to come to this realisation. What hope is there for young women (my dd is only 18) who don't have this opportunity?

nomadicstitches said...

I've spent time trying to figure out why women care about how other women feel about their clothing choices and all I can really conclude is that it comes out of Mean Girls style "girl world" politics.

I think we've all experienced those situations where a few popular people set out for the rest of us what we should wear and how we should act.

We've also either witnessed or experienced the social consequences of deviating from those rules.

I dressed outside the box as a kid and was harassed and ostracized for it well into high school. No one dared be my friend in fear of the same consequences for them.

There's a novel by YA author Lauren Myracle called The Fashion Disaster that Changed My Life. As much as the title is a little tongue in cheek, I don't think the story is that far from realistic. It's amazing how wearing the 'wrong' thing can haunt someone. I mean, look at what the press do to movie stars who take the 'wrong' risks on the red carpet.

I wish I could say we all grow out of it but I when I hear about or notice stuff like this I think it's clear that many of us either still think that way or still have deep enough scars from dealing with it in the past that we become afraid to really express ourselves.

I think it's really sad. And one of the reasons I sew and follow sewing blogs is to be able to continue to dress my own way and to feel kinship with others who are creating for themselves.

And that's my impression.

stacy said...

Well said, Shannon! I couldn't agree more.

mem said...

I havent read the thread you are talking about but in general I suspect that women have been socialized into being peaceable and NOT rocking the boat . This probably something that was useful in caveman days when the welfare of the group was what meant survival. Now I think that the frowning upon individualism and the pressure to conform is having a bad effect on women and undermining their power as human beings . I guess that those women who are most vociferous in frowning upon self expression in whatever way are probably victims of being squashed by the "group think" or are just plain bullies. Having said that I do think that being kind in expressing opinions has alot going for it.

Maggie said...

Wow, hmm? what was that trend that launched a thousand comments? My thoughts though...1. men don't have these problems 2. Betsey Johnson was quite conservative in her younger years designing for Butterick patterns. (maybe old age and a bout with cancer changed her as it does to everone)

Shellie said...

Yea, girl! don't ever smother your style!

:)S

Lisa Laree said...

I will never forget looking for a particular combo of make up that flattered my face and skin tones, and my Mary Kay lady, upon hearing my lament that it was no where to be found, commented, 'I guess that 'look' just isn't in now.' Now, it wasn't her fault that nobody offered it, but it really ticked me off that 'someone' could decide what I could put on my face....

Denise@thebluegardenia.com said...

Totally out of it. What fall trend?

tarabu said...

I have no idea why all the angst. I suppose it's because they weren't given the absolutely brilliant advice I received at a very young age: "You wouldn't worry so much about what people think of you if you realised how rarely they do." Perhaps not grammatically correct, but I've quite happily lived my life under that mantra!

Teddylyn said...

Well said, Shannon!

Anonymous said...

Shocking pink and Hello-Miss-Kitty are powerful weapons in any grown womens arsenal against stereotyping, being down-talked and generally assumed to play nice. They make grown man cry out and moan in anguish and snarky women lost for words, use them wisely to protest against expectations of what is and is not allowed for women to do and to wear.

fiberchick said...

Was going to leave a long comment and then realized that Nancy K said it all and in a far more articulate way than I would have... Women can be very hard on each other. Nice to see Hartley on the masthead. He's in good company.

sewingmama said...

Women can be so hard on one another that it is almost criminal. Most women succumb to the bad girl philosophy when they are with their friends and do not deviate from the norms set by their group of reference. This has been shown time and time again in history. It is said that we continue to treat each other with such contempt and persecution. As most of the people have responded here "we all think that this is wrong." But which one of us is going to go against the grain and walk around like "Betsy Johnson" on a daily basis? We all have been socialized to follow the basic norms in order to work on jobs that allow us to provide necessities such as food,clothing and shelter. The "interview suit" is a good example of that socialization.

Carolyn said...

This is a fantastic post, Shannon, and I totally agree with you about dressing to suit yourself. I have no idea what is the sewing forum or the trend you are referring to, and am now insanely curious as to what they are...!! will have to go and hunt it down now. (And I can just hear my teenage sons gleefully yelling, "Catfight!"about this sort of female behaviour that unfortunately does goes on...!!)

Carolyn said...

He he, just on a sorta related note about dressing to please yourself, have you ever visited a site called "people of walmart"? It's kind of mean spirited, but still one of the funniest sites I've ever come across...!

Gorgeous Things said...

As a slightly sad aside, I just read in WWD that Betsey defaulted on her loans today, and Steve Madden may end up taking over her company. :(

Anonymous said...

I agree with Laura. I completely agree with what you said here about not letting other's opinions rule your life much less dictate how you should dress. Your comments on that board were not the least bit offensive or disrespectful. I don't think the commentator on that board was aiming at you or at several others who posted that the look was not to their taste. (Some of those were quite hilarious, I agree!) There was one just one that stepped over the line and I think the commentator was trying to reel the one in without actually singling her out. In the process I think perhaps you and few others felt like they were being chastised, and that's too bad. As for Betsey - yes she looks fabulous but she looks like Betsy. She's an artist and a designer and as another here so aptly pointed out "she owns that look'. It's not an age thing. It's a knowing yourself thing. And I think that's a whole 'nother topic.

Anyway - love your blog. Thank you for blogging!

Sarah said...

Ha ha oh my gosh I love the picture. I totally agree with you. People shouldn't be dictated by others thoughts and opinions. We should always be proud and strong to wear what we want!

http://wearingitonmysleeves.blogspot.com

Sewjune said...

My 14-yr old daughter always dresses "mismatched" and in fairly bright colors. She wants to stay away from the expensive trends where all the girls her age look alike with their designer duds. Her grandmother is appalled but I'm thrilled with her self-confidence. She doesn't dress slutty like so many of them do, she just dresses in an artsy, individual way and most everyone knows who she is. How great is it to own your look and not have to be like everyone else!