Life is never dull. Clichéd, for sure, but always interesting. As I turned on the radio this morning, the discussion was all about a young miss who demands to be allowed to wear a revealing tank top to school.
She’s outraged that she was turned away from class for violating the dress code, which requires more modest attire. #My body, my clothes! Uh, no dear. I just want to march up to her and say, ‘Girlie, stop your whining and pay attention to what matters. Not your 15 minutes of fame, but your marks. Now go to your room and clean it up.’ But nooooo – she’s the latest ‘look at me’ meme-girl. Wait until she fails at getting employment – that will be the next ‘it’s so unfair’ thing.
Gee wiz. I attended a Catholic high school where the young women and young men were segregated on different floors. We were on the top floor – sort of reminiscent of blocking the barbarians at the gate, Juliet and storming the ramparts. Periodically, the Mother Superior would point out a random girl in line as we rotated between classes, ‘requesting’ her to kneel on the terrazzo floor in her office so she could check the length of our uniform hems. If the hem didn’t hit the floor, we were given a detention and a note sent to our mother.
Woe betide the girl who had a run in her nylons. We dreaded hearing, “Miss X, I’d like a word with you.”, as she centred us out in front of our peers. Our fresh pubescent flesh straining through the ladders of nude nylon was a clear indication of hussiness. We were told to remove the stockings, as that artfully exposed virgin skin could inflame those nasty horny boys passing by on their way to smoke their Export As or Belvedere cigarettes in the lower parking lot.
Sure, that was over the top, but none of us would ever have questioned Sister Mary Bernita or the morality behind her fashion edicts about modesty. I mean, after all, look at our grade 12 graduation photo. We were all attired in puffy-sleeved flocked white calf-length gowns (sewn by our moms), with a gigantic bouquets of red roses cradled in our arms. Lord have mercy, but we looked like a squadron of virgins (which most of us still were, thanks to Sister Carmel Marie’s horrifying tales of waywardness disasters in health/religion classes).
I’m not saying we should go back to false modesty or covering up completely. After all, we express ourselves through our clothing. Today, though, there are few rules. And certainly no ‘common sense’. Remember a few years ago when that Toronto police officer was excoriated fort commenting that young women should try not to dress ‘like sluts’ because they make themselves prey to weirdos and sexual opportunists? The outrage spawned annual ‘Slut Walks’ and got him disciplined. His delivery may have been awkward and too forthright and the timing was off, but I agree with the basic sentiments.
My mom always said that how you dress reflects how you feel about yourself and how you want others to perceive you. There’s a grain of truth to that. Some of the outfits I’ve seen now that warmer weather is here, make me cringe. Doesn’t matter whether you’re an apple, pear, rectangle or hourglass shape, says our European drafting instructor Maria — if the clothes are attractive and fit properly, every body can look amazing.
And don’t get me started on the tattoos. There have to be reasonable limits. Life is not about ‘doing your own thing’ wherever and whenever you want. You want to wear a tube top and butt-baring shorts? Do it on your own time away from school and work. But be conscious of the subliminal messages you’re sending, Courtney or Bridget or Kaitlyn or LaShondra. There’s no excuse for men (and some women) behaving badly, but it’ll happen.
There are always consequences, especially with ubiquitous social media. Stupid young men are caught on tape shouting obscenities or rape-statements at young women? They’re getting fired and/or publicly shamed, which is as it should be.
Thus spake Grandma. Whew. Back to gardening.