Adventure in Changing Attire

I don’t like pants. They cut my body weird. They make it hard for me to pull my knees up by my chest. They make me feel uncomfortable with myself. They restrict my leg movement. Though I started wearing them as such anyway, I don’t consider leggings pants. That’s not what they were made for. Leggings make me feel lazy.

I wear skirts and dresses, every day with one exception. The two pairs of shorts I own. The rest of the time it’s skirts and dresses. I have too many skirts and dresses, but I wear them all. There aren’t secret articles no one has ever seen. I wear all 30+ skirts. I wear all 20+ dresses. (Like I said, too many).

Lately, I’ve been feeling better about my weirdly shaped body. Better enough to unabashedly wear crop tops. Better enough to wear a low-cut top. Better enough that I confidently wear skirts and dresses every day, instead of hiding myself behind my old uniform of baggy t-shirts and men’s jeans. There’s nothing wrong with that uniform. It just wasn’t the uniform for me. That uniform was me hiding. It was me so ashamed of all that’s happened to me. Things beyond my control. As my brain started to heal, I found myself in clothing that better suited my mind. I’m not saying mini-skirts and skater dresses should be every woman’s uniform. Please, don’t misunderstand me. It’s what has worked for me to make me feel comfortable with my own body.

clothes 7 clothes 6 clothes 5clothes 4clothes 3clothes 2

Unfortunately, I had a bit of a breaking point this weekend. Every day of my life I am on high alert. I have no idea which people are safe anymore, and any man that makes me even a little uncomfortable is a clear threat. Which means there’s a pretty short list of men I feel truly safe around. It means I spent Saturday alternating between sleeping and crying on my living room floor. It means I spent Sunday forcing myself to get out of bed and work at a coffee shop. But I can’t bring myself to don my regular uniform anymore. I don’t want to go back to men’s jeans and baggy t-shirts. Those are the clothes I use to hide scars and pain. They aren’t the clothes of the woman I know myself to be. They are the clothes of a woman who hates herself, not a woman who loves herself.

Yesterday, I couldn’t do it. I was so uncomfortable with the world that I didn’t feel safe in anything. I put on leggings. I put on a t-shirt that was incredibly too big for me. Anywhere I went I was curled up in a tiny ball. I tried to make myself as tiny as I could. I didn’t want to be spoken to. I certainly didn’t want the regular barrage of unwanted and unearned hugs I always receive places. So few people can hug me and make me feel safe. A couple did yesterday, but mostly I felt tense. I felt like at any moment things would turn.

I’m wearing leggings and a shirt that makes me feel like someone’s mom today. I don’t like it. I feel uncomfortable in my own skin. But I feel less like anyone could talk to me.

It’s not what we wear. Our clothes are not the problem. What is the problem is the way assclowns respond to what we wear. Let us feel safe. We put effort and care into the clothes we put on. Even if it’s just our uniform. Those clothes are intentional because they are what make us feel good. They are what make us feel safe. Your comments are not helping. They’re ruining the minor comforts we finally made for ourselves again.

That to say, for now, back to leggings and hiding.

 

Adventure in AbFab

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Gosh, I wish that show was still on.

That’s not the point.

The point is the time has come for me to confess another travesty about my life to you. I love clothes. Moreover, I love ugly clothes. Hard. I love the neglected pieces buried away in thrift stores. In college the costume department was cleaning out storage, and they started filling bags of clothes for me. “This is ugly. Put it in the bag for Hayley.” It was bliss. And after reading this post from Jaime Blosser-Byrd, the time has finally come for me to be brutally honest about clothes with you.

In college a friend made me read (and subsequently purchase) the books from the creators of What Not To Wear. No. Not Stacy and Clinton *spit spit*. Trinny and Sussanah. I used to watch them on BBC America, and that alone changed my life. But having the books on hand is even better. Here’s the thing, I have a funny body. I do. Well, we all do. That’s right. You too. Embrace that. It’s good. The bad is that all women’s clothes are made exactly the same way. If you weigh 100 pounds or 500, clothes are built the same. A woman’s blouse, primarily, will be sized like a men’s t-shirt. S, M, L, etc. Which is stupid. I love that men’s dress shirts are sized with all sorts of numbers I don’t fully understand. I love that men’s pants do the same thing! I’m not a blanket size 10 in jeans. My stems are weird length, and my hips are small, but my stomach is a turd. I have big boobs and a small waist. I have no butt. My shoulders are big and my neck is short.

But let’s be real, team. I know how to dress. It took me a while to admit that, and then to also do it. I’ve known for a while; I simply struggled to find the right clothes. Now, though, I’d rather wear the same things every week, than look pregnant or deranged. (Some times I still look deranged). Yes, I treat clothes as costumes usually, but so far I’m not mad about it.

I can’t express this enough, if you’re struggling to find the right things for your body, please check out What Not to Wear. Here! You can get it for a dollar. Learn your body type. Learn your body shapes to know how to cover it. Know what to show and what to hide. Now, it is an incredibly British book, so if you invest in the subsequent books standards for things like weddings are a little different than in the States, but I assure you it’s still worth the investment.

Don’t worry though! If you’re a man and rubbish at clothes, I have good news for you too. Well, I have good news if you happen to look pretty much exactly like this guy. I have a pinterest board that might appeal to you.

Let’s just take a moment and revisit some of my favorite looks from the past year. Sorry for all that straight up bragging.

Love me some bright colorsphoto (1)

Tight skirt, baggy sweater. I love youphoto (2) This blazer was a solid thrift.photo (3)

These shoes were worth the $2.00, even if they have no give and I can barely walk in them. Also, this sweatshirt is from Sevenly.com #love

photo (5)

Wool skirt is a winter must. I can emphasize it enough

photo (6) photo (7) photo (8)

This outfit made me feel like I was in an all-female production of Peter Pan, but I think that’s why I love it so much.photo (9)

Toothbrush: essential.photo

This blazer, I was considering altering, but let’s be honest…photo (4)

Why would I?!
photo (10)This is the ’90s girl answer to “dress up.” Biggest bow possible.

photo (1)

Adventure in Rape Culture

There was a bit of an uproar when this commercial happened during the Super Bowl. Not among any men, of course, but groups of feminists and groups of brooding mothers were at odds. Even the feminists saw it as something relatively offensive. But if you ask me it actually teaches us a pretty valuable thing about our culture. A sad thing about our culture. (it’s about to get feminismy) That men are free to wear whatever they want, unjudged, unharmed. If a woman dresses as if she wearing nothing, or more often next to nothing, if anything happens to her it’s her own fault. Which isn’t true. Rape happens regardless of what one wears. And I believe in modesty.. More than a lot of people, but a fair amount of that comes from insecurity. That doesn’t mean that if a woman feels comfortable with her body she shouldn’t feel safe wearing whatever she wants.But she can’t. She’ll be judged by some other women and labeled a slut. And men, not all but many, will look at her as an object and not as a person. And if she speaks out against it, she’ll have this conversation. Over. And over. And over.

(I take no credit for this. It was, however, brought to my attention by my friend Kristen Lynne Blossom)

But this is what happens. Women can’t dress how they want because of rape culture. They feel unsafe in a short dress or a low-cut shirt, but you know when else we feel uncomfortable, unsafe? In jeans and a t-shirt. In sweats. Running after 6 outside of suburbia. After 8 in suburbia. It’s scary out there, and staying silent isn’t helping.

Adventure in Résumé building

I’ve been trying to build my résumé to make me a moderately appealing job candidate. As it turns out I have no marketable skills. What I DO have is a bunch of worthless skills. Here are a bunch of ’em.

Skills:
Mixing paint to match existing colors.
Painting wood to look like bricks.
Painting wood to look more like wood.
Treading water.
Breast stroke.
Pooping.
Typing obscenely fast.
Sassing.
Snarking.
Filling out a v-neck.
Making a costume at the last minute.
Painting nails while driving.
Distracted driving.
Destroying relationships.
Making messes.
Folding, but not putting away laundry.
Applying make up.
Old age make up.
Mermaid make up.
Bird make up.
Drinking whole bottles of wine.
Crying.
Sweating.
Shaving.
Drinking soda.
Eating donuts.
Eating ice cream.
Spilling staining foods on clothes.
Taking pictures of myself at least attractive moments.
Filling up backseat of car with trash.
Moping.
Watching endless hours of television, better with shows I’ve seen more than once.
Painting portraits of Muppets.
Buying, but never reading books.
Writing letters.
Baking chocolate chip cookies for small groups of people.
Walking long distances and complaining about it.
General complaining.
Being burdensome.
Reading bedtime stories to 20-somethings.
Vaguely planning weekend trips.
Speaking in loud tones.
Humming, but not singing showtunes.
Playing Jurassic Park theme on clarinet.
Making pancakes on open fire.
Taking baths.
Swinging.
Buying and giving gifts.
Retaining useless information.
Quoting movies.
Seamlessly incorporating movie quotes into conversation.
Wasting countless hours on internet.
Sunburning.
Giving crappy, free haircuts.
Giving and receiving back massages.
Bargain hunting.
Painting stormtroopers.

Scenic painting.

Wise cracking.
Wearing neon.
Consuming large quantities of carbs.
Farting.
Maintaining composure in hospital.
Alphabetizing.
Judging.
Pop culture knowledge.
Making jokes.
Oversharing personal information.
Irish accent.
Russian accent.
Southern accent.
Deliberately crappy Russian accent.
Minnesotan accent.
Boston accent.
English accent.
Cockney accent.
Australian accent.
Walking silently.
Walking like a duck.
Cartwheel into splits.
Splits.

*Holds valid driver’s license.

If I come up with a real skill I possess, I’ll let you know.

Adventure in Semi-ironic Women’s Day Post

This is my father. A handsome mustachioed fellow. The mustache comes and goes, but mostly it’s here to stay. My brother has had off-and-on since college a beard or at the very least a scruff covered face, and occasionally the ironic fake mustache. Maybe it’s because of the beatniks I spend my time with or maybe it’s because I’m weird, but I think it might actually be an unconscious cultural statement. Allow me to explain it to you in the form of this section from Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.

BEATRICE
Just, if he send me no husband; for the which
blessing I am at him upon my knees every morning and
evening. Lord, I could not endure a husband with a
beard on his face: I had rather lie in the woollen.
LEONATO
You may light on a husband that hath no beard.
BEATRICE
What should I do with him? dress him in my apparel
and make him my waiting-gentlewoman? He that hath a
beard is more than a youth, and he that hath no
beard is less than a man: and he that is more than
a youth is not for me, and he that is less than a
man, I am not for him: therefore, I will even take
sixpence in earnest of the bear-ward, and lead his
apes into hell.

It’s a real predicament isn’t it? Because it’s this mentality I think I’m working from. In the same way that women’s clothing sizes are still just one number, I perceive the masculinity and age in a very antiquated mentality. Beard? Old. No beard? Not manly. Old? Pass. Not manly? You can’t handle this. Right?

And yet, I appreciate a good beard. I appreciate a mediocre beard. A mustache in good taste. I can, on occasion, appreciate a lack of facial hair, but when it goes from facial hair to naked face my brain wigs.

But in the same way I hold an antiquated view of men and the hair upon their faces, the fashion world holds an antiquated view of women’s clothing sizes.

With the advent of mass production of clothing women’s sizes became reduced to singular numbers. 8, 2, 14. Whatever “your” number. It’s frustrating. Men’s pants alone are sized by inseam and waist. Women are one number. Men’s shirts are neck, sleeve and body. Women are again a number. Now, clothes used to be tailor-made. Women would make them for themselves or have a girl who did it, depending on her financial situation. But as we gained momentum in mass-production it was decided that women were still spending most of their time in the house. So their everyday clothes could be vague. Tie and apron around that waist and it’s like it was made just for you! And the important clothes, the ones a woman would wear to look beautiful in the presence of her husband’s friends, those a woman would spend more money on. She’d have them altered. She’d have them fitted.

Now, it’s 2012 and our sizes are still just singular numbers. I’m not a 1950s housewife, though I wouldn’t hate it to a degree (minus the abuse and what not), so I’d like for my clothes to fit me well without an apron synched around my waist. I’d like my shoes to be comfortable walking long distances, and not just from the counter to the stove to the dining room table. I’m 25 years old as of yesterday, and I’ve never bought a single article of clothing that I said “yes, perfect.” Men have it pretty easy. You can’t mess up a tux. You can’t go wrong in a suit. And even a suit or tux that isn’t tailor-made for YOU is still purchased based on a lot more measurements than a vague estimate of whatever the hell 10 means. Because my boobs are a 16 but my natural waist an 8. And my legs are short, but my torso is long. So fix it, fashion industry, because we aren’t just numbers anymore.

Adventure in Real women…

“Real women have curves.” “Real women have careers.” “Real women don’t need men.” There are lots of things shouted at us in all sorts of places. I’ll try to be brief.

Yes. Some women have curves. You know what’s interesting though? Some women don’t. Some women have careers. C.S. Lewis said, “The homemaker has the ultimate career. All other careers exist for one purpose only – and that is to support the ultimate career.” Some women don’t need men. That doesn’t mean women can’t want to have a man around. I’m all in favor of shaking up the norm. Especially for women. It’s why I volunteer with Girls Inc. I don’t want the next generation growing up hating themselves because society says they’re living their lives incorrectly.

Just yesterday we talked with the girls about stereotypes. “All girls like pink.” “All girls are obsessed with boys.” “All girls hate sports.” If you say these things to the girls in my class they get pretty mad, but you know what? Some girls do like pink. Some girls are obsessed with boys. Some girls hate sports.

Just because one stereotype is negative doesn’t mean one that you believe to be positive is a positive for everyone. Telling a flat chested stick of a thing that real women have curves tells that girl she’s not a real woman. Telling a housewife real women have careers tells her she isn’s a real woman. Telling an infertile woman she’s not fulfilled her role as a woman until she’s had children tells her she’s never going to be good enough. We’re different. Every last one of us.

And yes, I hate the way clothes are sized for women. It’s been stirring in my head since puberty. A size 8 pants and an extra-large shirt?! It doesn’t make sense. Especially when that extra-large shirt only accommodates my boobs, and makes the rest of me look pregnant. Men’s clothes are sized by nearly every measurement, but women are a number. Get up in arms about that. But don’t go around telling other women what real women are like, because she’s probably not exactly like you. Real women are just that. Real and women. Don’t make it harder on anyone than it already is.

Adventures in thinking ahead

The other day I was reading through Rules For My Unborn Son by Walker Lamond in which he says incredibly heartfelt and also simple, but genuine pieces of advice many sons should have. And things most fathers would wish for their sons.

While reading it I couldn’t help but wonder if something like that exists for women. Mothers and daughters. I found a tumblr account that at best offered countless clichés and worthless ramblings. And maybe I can’t come up with 1,001 and maybe I’ll never have a daughter or a son for that matter, but there are things that I think all women should consider or at least young girls in living life. Some that I’d like to remember for myself from time to time. Women these days feel so overtly run with feminism and the idea that we must be exactly equal to men. It’s that we are not. And so this is where I shall start. Perhaps they aren’t grand across the board, but these are things I wish for the women in my life I know I’ve had influence over, campers, youth group kids, and others.

001) No man is more important than your God
002) Make up is fun and it can help you feel pretty, but you don’t need it.
003) Classic literature is some times a struggle to get through, but in the end it is worth it. If for no other reason than to become more accomplished.
004) It may seem like every other woman in your life is in a relationship. Don’t rush. They aren’t.
005) Never underestimate the joy and privilege of a meal around a table with family or friends.
006) Parents might seem draining on your life, but they’re doing their best and want to know you as much as they can.
007) At least offer to pay for yourself.
008) Cook whenever you can. 
009) Your grandmother is one of the strongest women you’ll ever meet.
010) Respect great women.
011) Every person you interact with is impacted by you and likewise you by them.
012) Marriage is not something to take lightly.
013) Breakfast tea is coffee without the bad breath.
014) You can overdress, but don’t be ashamed when it happens.
015) Aprons are not nerdy. They are practical.
016) Play an instrument. Even if you play it poorly.
017) Your eyebrows are one of your most expressive features. Don’t destroy them.
018) If you choose to be a den mother to a group of male friends, do it for all of them and not for one of them.
019) When you can wear skirts rather than shorts.
020) Never wear flip-flops to a formal occasion.
021) No woman is worth less than a man, but know your limits.
022) You won’t always be happy. Joy is not happiness. Don’t mistake the two.
023) Don’t fall asleep while chewing gum.
024) If a friend cuts hair for a living let her do it, even if she is not great at it.
025) Support your friends in their pursuits.
026) If you don’t like sports you don’t like sports.
027) Fiction is a nice escape and full of lessons. The truth about life is not one of them.
028) You are not a television character. You are your own person.
029) Constantly look at things in a new light.
030) Go to the movies alone.
031) Worship your God fearlessly and unashamedly.
032) Know your passions and pursue them.
033) You are beautiful.
034) A kiss is not a contract, but don’t go about throwing them away either.
035) It may seem that a woman with a strong sense of humor is unattractive. Don’t be afraid of your wit, but don’t be cruel with it.
036) Being a bridesmaid is a great honor.
037) Don’t restrict your singing simply to the shower.
038) Take walks. Alone and not.
039) Even if it feels dorky take your camera, but don’t get lost behind it.
040) If you don’t like something or are opposed to something, have a reason.
041) All girls are mean; don’t make it a habit, and try to rise above it.
042) Cake is a good thing to have on hand.
043) Roofs keep you dry, but they are a good place to sit and talk to your friends.
044) Glitter is tacky. It’s also good for lifting your spirits.
045) Be comfortable in the water, and you will be less uncomfortable in a bathing suit.
046) Set goals. Short and long-term. Don’t be disappointed if you do not achieve them all. They’re goals. Not promises.
047) Be a tomboy. It’s ok, but don’t be ashamed of being a girl.
048) If you can’t drink at your own wedding you are too young to get married.
049) Keep friends. People change and grow though. Don’t be disheartened by drifting apart.
050) Sisterhood seems cheesy, but it is priceless.
051) Live with girls.
052) Your value is not wrapped up in your appearance, so don’t let your thoughts get wrapped up in it.
053) Some times life calls for profanities. Don’t make them part of your every day.
054) Logic is not meant to replace imagination. Both are important.
055) Be as untidy as you please. Don’t be dirty.
056) Believe in something.
057) Create. Even if only for yourself.
058) Love is a choice and an action. Don’t be fooled by emotions. Choose to love every day.
059) Even the person who causes you the most pain is not your enemy.
060) If someone has been kind enough to make you a meal don’t refuse it or be picky about what you eat.
061) Hair grows.
062) Embrace your heritage.
063) Belly buttons are cute, but don’t flash yours about.
064) Listening is a beautiful and refined skill.
065) Value the stories and lives of others.
066) Write letters. Keep a pen pal.
067) I may not like the truth, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to hear it.
068) If I say something you don’t agree with talk to me about it. Don’t accept it face value.
069) Even when I seem busy, I always have time for you.
070) The internet is not a way to build relationships.
071) Self-pity is not the way to attract men.
072) If bras and panties were meant to be seen they wouldn’t be called underwear.
073) You are allowed to play with the boys. Always have girl friends too.
074) Mistakes are challenging and some times embarrassing, but they are beautiful learning experiences.
075) Weddings become more fun with age.
076) Accept help.
077) Loyalty to your friends and family will feel underappreciated. That is because it is invaluable.
078) Even when your friends don’t think it’s cool anymore keep playing with your imagination.
079) In the summer shoes are optional.
080) You have your whole life to work. Do not rush to get a job.
081) Play cards with your friends.
082) If it is important to you it is important to me.
083) When you don’t feel knowledgable about something, ask and research. Don’t be uninformed.
084) Learn to fish.
085) Know how to change your own tire.
086) Do not downplay the value of basic articles of clothing.
087) Spend time in the woods.
088) Washing dishes is a relational activity.
089) You don’t have to go to college, but you must never stop learning.
090) You can dance if you want to.
091) Leggings are not pants.
092) The winter is gloomy. It is silent. Use it to listen to others more closely.
093) Clothes are not costumes.
094) Love is a powerful word. Mean it.
095) When the crowd is rising against someone get them out of there.
096) Shoes are what you walk on. They are not worth more than $20.
097) Find a mentor.
098) Wash your feet every night before bed.
099) The fit of your top is not just the front of it. Look at your back too.
100) A cellphone is not a time piece. Buy a watch.
101)  Eyeliner in moderation.

An important thing you must know

Dirk, I apologize up front for the repetition.

I find it vastly important that you know a few things about the place we’re staying. 

1) Our bathroom is freezing
2) This is because the window must be left open at all times
3) This then makes our bathroom cold as it is very cold outside
4) Brett, I feel like Sarah Simpson
5) The bathroom has a funk (not the bassy, groovin’ music). Not like a “hmm, that’s odd” funk. No it smells like something crawled up someone’s bum rolled around for a bit, crawled back out, puked all over the walls and floor and ceiling and then took a poo as well.
6) This problem is perpetuated by the fact that we do shower in this room which means that the funk then festers in the hot steam of the shower (and there is much steam as the shower produces much heat).
7) We are to leave the door open after we shower to let the steam out.
8 ) This makes me feel guilty as poor Richard (no relation to Poor Regina) lives next to our bathroom so the festered bathroom funk floats just outside his door.
9) The stairwell just before the door to the suite where the bathroom is smells like rotting apples.
10) Mind you, not real apples. Like if you took the taste and smell of apple-flavored candy and made it so they could rot like real apples that is what the smell would be.
11) Not the “Oh Lord take out the trash” rot, but the just starting to turn rot.
12) And presently the place we’re sitting smells much like a dirty foot.
13) The good news is many of my clothes were cleaned at the Rhodes’ house
14) This means that they smell like clean laundry
15) So when I put them on I can’t stop smelling them
16) And they smell like the Rhodes’ house
17) So I think of them and get warm and fuzzy inside
18) And quietly I miss them and wish we were still there.

And scene.

phones are quite difficult

We got up this mornin’ and eventually bummed a ride from Richie into New Castle and then took a bus to Belfast. We spent the day wishing we knew what we were doing.

Belfast, while beautiful, is pretty much all under construction. I tried rather unsuccessfully to call 3 different people about 40 times a piece.  No dice.  I finally got Malcolm and Alexis’ answering machine, but ya know, what good is that? None good. That’s how many.

We met some nice people at a coffee shop called Charlies and got invited to their “open mic” night thinger.  Nice folk, that Karen and Jerry. Nice folk.

We wandered like crazies around Belfast for a few hours. Found a couple of book store. Got a couple of books. Totally mailing my books home before we leave Eire.  Otherwise, ya know, I’ll be faced with the decision of leaving my books behind or my clothes when we go to check in for our next flight.

I always feel like you all want some brilliant anecdote from me during each of these guys.  I won’t lie. I don’t really have any, ever. Thoooough.

This afternoon we found a vintage clothing store called “The Rusty Zip” (that’s zipper for you yanks).  Children in a toy store. Everything was so hideous or outrageous or smelly and still so fabulous.  It took us a bit but eventually we were trying on all sorts of outrageous outfits we’d put together. (Pictures to come upon my return).  Nothing terribly funny about that, but you know, it happened. So there’s that. You can chew on it for a while if you want.

We also met a boy called “Matt” from Kentucky who is staying in New Castle. He’s apparently been to Murlough house a few times before. OH! And the team from Taylor gets here Thursday. I learned this morning, when I was snooping around the house, that Kathryn, Elise’s old roommate, is totally one of the people coming.  Hooray for knowing people!

Lord knows what we’ll do tomorrow. Where we’ll go. Who we’ll see. Will Hayley ever get a hold of Ruth?  Will May ever call Hayley?  Will Bethany want to do something besides shop? And why are cities in the U.K. so insistant on having ferris wheels? All this and more next time on “A Broad Abroad.”

Alright there, Harry?

Oh. P.S. Have something for Sleeves. You’re welcome. Though I admit it’s a bit lame. But whatever.

P.P. (teehee) S. If you happen to be a Skype user you may catch me on there from time to time at the name “hayleypants” That is all.