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a feminist in a bustier dress

Thursday, June 11, 2015

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laughing at the tiny men in a great big dress



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I’m not very self-conscious, 7 years of blogging banished all of the introvert in me. I don’t really care what most people  think of me and yet so often and astonishingly they feel compelled to confess their thoughts of me to me. Almost as if they are bestowing a favour upon me, so generously they doll up their opinions and dish them out as casually as hors-d’œuvres.  From people I know only vaguely to absolute strangers, they come at me with judgement I never asked for. We were shooting this outfit on a quiet corner in Barcelona and midway through a spin, a man stopped me to tell me I looked ugly in my dress. Now, this sort of reaction, I have grown very accustomed to – in Paris especially, pedestrians feel it is their duty to pass verbal judgement on your clothes, pose, hair…or whatever else. I usually smile, crack a laugh and just get on with the photographs. But this particular man would not surrender, he stood, gawked and even touched my dress in the way one might pluck a dead insect off the floor. And quite frankly, it began to piss me off. His criticism wasn’t useful, it was an inconvenience. The dusk light was fading and I had planned these photos to be infused with that dark pretty glow that comes just before sunset  – and yet here was this strange man yelling at me, in the middle of the street, preventing me from doing my work. Now, the men who approach me on the street sway one of two ways, they insult like this man or they loiter around, staring creepily waiting for a spare second to ask me for my phone number. None of these specimens are ever charming or handsome, quite the opposite, the exact sort of man I would dodge at a bar. They are both as unpleasant as the other, I am either ugly or obviously seeking sexual attention because I’m dressed up. I like to think I am neither of those. And here’s the thing, if one of you girls were to tell me you weren’t particularly fond of what I was wearing, I would welcome that opinion – you enjoy clothes, you know clothes and heck, you’ve been checking in here to see my clothes for a good long while now. But when some man sees me and instantly decides I am his to hear all his opinions of me, it enrages me – it’s annoying and demeaning and quite frankly, just not right. Most women do not dress for men – and yet they run around thinking we do. Another instance, without fail, every time a photo of me in lingerie appears on this website, some boy I vaguely once met pops up on my iphone – a text devoid of emotion but laden with emojis that imply he saw my boobs online in a bra. Running around on the street in a dress that fits nicely or posing in a pretty undies for a project online is not a welcome sign for men to come at me with their opinions and misplaced ideas. Obviously, if say, Adam Gallagher or  Tom Ford were to get in touch, I’d be interested to hear their thoughts. And a compliment from a kind male stranger is always welcome but sadly, so rarely received. It’s all old men with canes or creeps in flip flops or boys I wish I never briefly met and I’m just not interested, in fact, I’m insulted. We use clothes to cover our bodies and so often I find men using them to undress me and humiliate me. How ironic, how painfully ironic. But the best response to irony is comedy.  Caitlin Moran taught me this – when your power as a woman is challenge or insulted – your best defense is laughter. To laugh so hard,so loud it banishes and shrinks these foolish men down to a tiny comedic nothing. To give them any response other than laughter is to let them win. They are foolish and you, you in your fancy dress or skimpy bra, you are fabulous.


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