the trade off

I find some of the hypocrisy in our society odd. For instance, when changing in to swim attire, usually from garments that don’t look a whole lot different from swim wear, why do we feel obligated to find a modest place to keep our undergarments off display, but have little issue bearing all in our swimsuits? It just strikes me as odd why two garments, each covering the same body parts, can be so vastly different in terms of social acceptance.

Is the issue that one connotes images of the bedroom, while the other belongs poolside? Is it really that simple? Are we so prudish that we can’t accept one as a reasonable substitute for the other? Or perhaps we’re so fixated on sex that we can’t displace those thoughts when faced with a reminder if it. We blush, cover our mouth with a hand and suppress a giggle.

I think this discomfort with undergarments is engrained in us at an early age. Remember that rhyme? “I see London, I see France, I see Suzy’s underpants!” The sole purpose was utter humiliation. And how did we play it off as kids? I remember in the fifth grade, after performing a revealing cartwheel while wearing a dress, telling another kid that I was wearing my swimsuit under my dress, so it was ok. And you know what? He bought it. It was ok. Swimsuit? No problem. Underwear? You’re in for some teasing.

Here’s the other thing… girls wear dresses and skirts. Whether by choice or parent and societal pressure, that’s what we girls often wear as kids to feel “pretty”. We can argue the pitfalls of this sense of validation later, but that’s just been my observation. Along with the pressure to “look pretty”, the female sex is expected to do things just as well, hard and fast as our male counterparts. So, when out on the playground, do you subdue playing and your sportier skills to keep yourself proper, or do you opt for sturdier clothes that can handle cartwheels, tumbling and climbing on jungle gyms, compromising on that self confidence boost from feeling “pretty”? It really is a trade off, and one that doesn’t make me happy to think about.

Granted, there are some good middle of the road options these days. Cute jeans, nice pants, flattering shorts. But traditionally? If you’re a girl and want to look nice, a dress or skirt is the most conventional option. Even in the professional world, there were certain clients where you still wore suits, and skirts suits were preferred. Even interviewing ten years ago, the recommendation from our career counselor was to wear a skirt suit. They were classic and distinguished, and in the accounting world, there wasn’t a whole lot of room for budding fashionistas.

The whole thing is just strange to me. I accept that we still live in a very sexist society, where a woman earns $0.80 for every dollar that her male counterpart does, but the whole societal pressures dictating what is ok and what isn’t is a bit unsettling. I’d love to think it will all balance out by the time C is thirty, but I highly doubt it.


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Mom to "C", wife to Ben. I'm a part-time blogger, cook, organizer, seamstress, house cleaner, taxi, nurse (the mom kind), accountant... I could go on, but really... it's all in the blog. Read away!

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