Style is not my thing. I’ve got it, obviously. But I hide it. I think it’s my mother’s fault. Once upon a time, cheered on by friends convinced that fabric shapes brought one closer to God, she required me to wear skirts to school daily. This, from age 11 on. When it started, it was like shock therapy. It hurt. I hated it. I had to do it anyway. Her concession was gradual implementation. I started off one skirt per week in grade six (up from previous zero per year) and worked up to every day in time for grade eight. Surely without this, a more visible approach to style would have found me. My mother would roll her eyes at this, but I’ve got the floor.
The proof is in the pudding so to speak, and the pudding in question is my daughter and my younger self. My daughter was born knowing what she wanted to wear. By age two, if she didn’t like what I picked, she tore it off when I left and played naked.
Until recently, she begged for skirts and dresses for almost everything. I felt as mystified as my mother did when I came out standard equipped with distaste for hair combing and frills. I liked denim, corduroy, and navy blue. I deemed underwear an excess that extended getting dressed a few seconds too many. My mother was fit to be tied when she discovered I’d been to grade one many times without them. I was a bit relieved to see her in so much distress. It gave me a chance to back down for compassionate reasons – not just because the seams on those pants were so extremely uncomfortable. Anyway, if that kind of independent notion is not a start towards style, I don’t know what it is.
Meanwhile, I’m stunted. When we’re late to school every day, we pass a lady getting her kids on the bus. Last week she was wearing a short flowered skirt with black pants underneath. She looked odd, but that didn’t separate her from most things I’m told are fashionable. Her combo being new to me only meant that it hadn’t been the style for longer than three or four years. The rest of the drive, I tried picturing myself in the outfit. I don’t wear short skirts normally on account of my vice presidency in the Covered Skin Sisterhood (I’m one of only three non-Muslim members so there’s pressure to do my part). . . but she was covered! Maybe this was my chance to look like everyone else?
Before I could decide, she pattered out in 3/4 length camouflage pants and a frilly blouse. I can’t describe how terrible it was because I never know the words that describe clothes. I wouldn’t have cared what she was wearing except for her almost making me wear something terrible. I am resolved again now to be me, my style nicely tucked in my pocket.