I think that one of my greatest regrets for the human race collectively is the fact that we somehow evolved away from having beautiful, luxurious furry pelts. Yes, I know we’ve had famines and genocides and the like, and that’s why I say one of. Bear with me (or should I say, bare with me? I made a pun).
We are naked, clothed only in our delicate skins. This is a situation which doesn’t sit well for our everyday 21st century activities, like shopping in the cool section of the supermarket, fighting our way through thornbushes to rescue princesses from towers, winning ice hockey, and achieving a higher level of spirituality by moshing really hard in the pit.
We must cover ourselves in order to be warm and comfortable, and this is where the trouble begins. Or maybe it began when Eve gave Adam the apple and God was like, “hey! Nudie-rudies!”
All I know is that clothes today are inarguably part of the fabric of society. Clothes are fabulous; they give us a mode of expression, feel good against our skin, and do the job nicely of preventing a large percentage of melanomas. Clothes also give us a reason to judge one another, to define subcultures, to fracture, discriminate and mock. They make it all too easy to sum a person up at a glance.
If we were furry koalas, this wouldn’t matter. We could stop judging each other and get stoned on eucalyptus and have noisy aggressive sex. We could move past all the angst.
There are so many rules surrounding what to wear and when, that sassy Brits are carving out careers by making the rest of us feel bad. The fact is that clothing can communicate volumes: how much money, how much self-worth, how much confidence.
I doubt I’m the only one to ever hurl every piece of clothing she/he owns on the floor, before collapsing in a fit of tears and spending the rest of the day in a bathrobe eating nachos. When I say, “I don’t have anything to wear”, I really mean, “I don’t know what to wear and I’m afraid of being judged for my choices.”
Judging other people is of course a disgusting pastime. We judge people for their jobs, their houses, their friends, their taste in music. We judge them for their grammar (almost wrote it as “they’re grammar”… gotcha!).
Unless we are perfect (which I sorely doubt, sorry), we judge people every day, and write them off as someone we do or do not desire to get to know better. Because clothes are among the first things we see, we use them to make an assessment. And because artfully distressed jeans or ditzy Zooey Deschanel frocks are a marker of personal choice, rather than gifts handed out by nature like nice teeth and good hair, we have fewer qualms making some manner of comment.
I admit I’m not innocent. From leggings to jeggings to jorts (please make it end) to chain store slogan t-shirts and their deplorable attempts at humour, I am often the first to dispense judgement. It’s been a learning curve to realise that as base and unconsidered as a slogan tee may be, the person wearing it still deserves my respect.
We need to stop instantaneously judging people for what they wear, unless it’s a freshly-skinned kitten. Within reason, people ought to be free to drape their bodies with whatever they wish.
They say the clothes maketh the woman. This isn’t entirely true. Be proud of what you wear, but don’t let a piece of cotton or nylon or latex or whatever you’re into, define you.
Just don’t ever wear toe-shoes, okay?