Tuesday, October 10, 2006

These hearts look like they are skewered with hat pins. It is the faux sarong tied at the wasit and the heart-shaped keyhole neckline that do it for me. Brown and yellow is such a late '40s color combo, the blue makes me think '70's. This is a genuine '40's dress, super small with a 24" waist.

I used to be anti-hearts, but I've changed my tune. A dear friend of mine has a heart motif on practically everything she owns. Not because she likes hearts, but because her birthday happens to fall on February 12th, people tend to give her things with hearts on them. After years of fighting it, she decided to embrace the hearts. Now whenever I see hearts I think of my friend, with all her fiery wit, and it makes me smile. Hi, Mita!

A debate has been going on about BUST magazine. As usual, I am late to the fray, and to the post, as it were. My beloved Twisty, patriarchy blamer extraordinare, takes the magazine to task for its materialistic, heteronormative ways. It is primarily a fashion magazine, and so its loyalties are divided from the beginning. A fashion magazine is mired in consumerism, and believes (or wants to believe) that you can change your life with a new lip gloss and hairstyle. But it is still a far cry from the self-hating horrors of Glamour and Madamoiselle. BUST includes articles about reproductive rights, profiles of interesting women. They devote a lot of real estate to comedians, and hooray for funny women. The fashion spreads include retro, or at least retro-influenced style, along with at least one model of normal proportions. There are crafts and articles about altering your old clothes. And this month's issue included an article about women organic farmers in Rhode Island, for crying out loud, and a quiz honoring one of my style icons, Liza Minnelli. It ain't the revolution though.

I am surprising myself by defending BUST. I find that I can generally read it in an hour. Not as much to chew on as I would like. BITCH is the magazine much closer to my heart. (Anyone could tell you that I am way more BITCHy than BUSTy).

Women are always judged on their looks. And we are conditioned to internalize the worst criticisms. Since we've all gotta wear clothes, you might as well wear something you enjoy. I am not so naive to think that my choice of sartorial choice is untainted by patriarchy. Every woman negotiates that minefield for herself and makes different accommodations to it. That's why there are frantic defenses of high heels or make-up. Women will defend these things with vitriol. Not just because of Stockholm Syndrome, but because these are survival techniques, body armor. You decide how much of traditional feminine behavior and attire you can stand, weigh it against the societal approval or violence you receive, and then you compromise, and compromise again. Some things are forced on you, and others you choose as a lesser of evils. And when something works you get damn loyal to it.

As for myself, I've always enjoyed wearing lots of fabric. I hate usuing the word "modesty" (unless I am referring to the fabulous 1966 Monica Vitti film Modesty Blaise), because that has all those political connotations about how woman need to cover up because menfolks just can't control themselves, which is total balderdash. For me it began as a rebellion, since both my mother and older sister where always very va-va-voom in their personal style. Now I am no longer insensible to the weather, as I was as a young goth in Southern California sweating into my multiple layers of black velvet and shredded stockings. It's possible to wear a decent and even humorous frock that sleeveless and breezy. But because of my yiddishe punim (Jewish Face), I am often mistaken for orthodox, which I used to find hilarious, since I am a shrimp-eating, fortune-telling, flamenco-dancing heathen (¡Olé!). But now it makes me mad. It's an excellent example of how a woman's clothing is never neutral. Why can't a long skirt just be a long skirt?


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