I am a woman born in the late 70’s…..and part of the female generation conditioned to believe we CAN have it all. We have choices and options and (sort of) equality.
I took the route of leaving higher education with a feeling there was nothing i could not achieve, i just had to work for it. Which i did and which afforded me an amazing career. The female Eunuch as described in Germaine Greer’s 1970’s feminist novel did not devitalise me in any way. All i really wanted to though, was fall in love and marry and have children and stay home to be with them. That all came true too and whilst i didn’t smash through any glass ceiling or redefine the meaning of a woman in the ‘noughties’ I’m comfortable with that. Infact, I’m really happy how it’s all turned out actually. Except, and there are always exceptions, for one thing.
I’m not comfortable that i dress for my husband more than i do myself. There, I’ve said it.
It pains me to wear something that he doesn’t ‘dig’. I wanted to use the phrase ‘approve of’ but it has such chauvinistic tendencies that he is not richly deserving of it. He couldn’t care less what i wear, really. But his little comments, that i deem in the negative render whatever it is i’m wearing ‘ruined’. I don’t intentionally dress for him let me make that clear, and i am far from a fashionista. Infact as far away as it’s possible to be without looking like a bag lady. I’m more classic i guess. Vanilla.
Let me explain.
I like pink a lot. Hot pink actually, if that’s a colour and I’ve been looking for a new bag to tote when i am without babies. The few hours each week i don’t have to lug a giant bag with spare clothes, knick-knocks, nappies, water bottles, snacks and endless wipes. It’s an indulgence bag if you like, just for me. And i wanted it to be pink, or white, or maybe black. (I did say i was vanilla….)
I found one and i bought it. Spur of the moment. Very happy with my purchase until i got home and showed my husband. ‘Eurghh’…was his first comment, ‘bit bright’ was his second. ‘WHY DONT YOU LIKE IT’ i bellowed….’i’m sorry’ came his scared knee jerk response with the whites of his eyes showing, ‘its just too in yer face for my liking’.
I spent the next half an hour trying to (forcibly) convince him why it was the must have bag. He wouldn’t budge, he didn’t like it.
Now, one part of me respects his honesty, the other part wants to smack him the face with it.
‘I like it’ was my indignant response. But i knew it was going back, if not tomorrow, next week. Secretly, deep down in me I want to please my husband, a lot, and if the truth be known, if he doesn’t like the bag, then i don’t want to either.
And yet i wouldn’t dare let him influence my thinking or thoughts, or politics or religion, just weirdly, what i wear ?
And yet, i often tell him when he looks like he got dressed in the dark, or like he runs a bar (black shirt & trouser combo), or when what he’s wearing isn’t appropriate. He, seems to welcome my imput and duly changes or just laughs (at the black shirt comment which he ALWAYS reserves for a Friday). He doesn’t question or dwell on it or feel remotely emasculated by it.
I remember reading once that women dress either for their men or other women, rarely do they dress to please themselves; unless you’re Helena Bonham Carter or Bjork that is. We decorate ourselves to garner attention, hopefully in the positive from those we admire. I hope this is true. I know who i wish to please.
I took the bag back today and as i handed it over the counter to reclaim my refund i still really liked it and deliberated in keeping it. My mind’s eye was imaging all the fun I’d have with it.
I called my husband on my way home to tell him i had returned it. He sounded perplexed, ‘why didn’t you just keep it if you liked it that much’ came his response.
All i could manage was, ‘It’s not me’.