Getting rid of a Micro mini yellow denim skirt (and dressing like a grown up)
"Dear Micro mini yellow denim skirt,
We had some fun nights together but I think I've reached an age where it has become a little tacky to wear you. So with a heavy heart I am giving you up. Ambivalently Yours❤"
In the pocket of the skirt, before I gave it to charity.
I would say that about twice or maybe three times a year, I sit myself down and sternly try to convince myself that it’s time I start dressing like a grown up. This usually occurs after I’ve watched an episode of What Not to Wear in which the “age appropriate” outfit was forcefully promoted, or when a stranger gives me a “you must be a teen mom” look when they see I am wearing a wedding ring. In those moments, I decide that it’s time to start looking like a real grown up; it’s time I be taken seriously, and it’s time to stop being underestimated for seeming young. So I go out and buy a blazer and some beigy eye shadow, and try to transform myself into an Ah-dult look-alike. It never really works though. Grown up clothes are just so stiff, uncomfortable and high maintenance. They have to be pressed and dry cleaned and hung on fancy hangers, and it’s as though the wearer of theses clothes automatically becomes stiff, uncomfortable and totally beige.
Nonetheless, as the birthdays leave their mark on my elasticity depleting skin, I do become aware that some fashion choices are more suited for the younger, tighter, smoother generations. I know, I know, this is not very feministy of me to say. Every woman should be able to wear what she wants at any age, and there are some women who will be able to pull off tight yellow mini skirts into their golden years, but somehow I don’t feel I am one of them (or maybe I have just been socially trained too well by Clinton and Stacy). Which is why I ambivalently let go of my yellow mini, making sure to leave a note in the pocket before I stuffed it into a garbage bag and dropped it off at the donation centre. It has always been difficult for me to let go of my clothes because they become so laced with memories, and also because giving them up is a reminder that whether I like it or not, I am getting older. For some reason the idea of getting older completely terrifies me. I have this irrational fear that one day I will transform into an Ah-dult over night and care about nothing but collecting coupons, understanding mortgage rates, and spending my days worrying about oil changes, mini-vans, suburbia living, two and a half kids, sensible shoes, and a whole lot of beige. Grown up life seems beige to me, and beige is basically my worst fear. Maybe the way I dress is a resistance to beige or maybe it’s a way to remind myself that I don’t have to actually become all these stereotypical grown up things I fear.
Another thing I find weird about age is the competitive nature between people of different generations, and how acting young (and by young I don't mean immature) is portrayed as such a bad thing. I saw at TV commercial the other day where a teenage girl was talking about how she was worried that her parents were leading too much of an isolated life because they did not have many facebook friends. The commercial was meant to be funny, but clearly it was an attack on how teenagers now communicate so much through social media, which seems to frighten a lot of older generations, who I suspect don’t actually understand what they are negating. My aim here is not to debate the pros and cons of social media, but to propose that perhaps part of the reason that social media has such a bad reputation is precisely because it is so universally embraced by a younger generation. What if teenagers hated facebook and twitter, and it were the adults who were tweeting their friends all day long (yes I know, many adults already do that), would the image of social media be different? Age doesn’t necessarily have to be hierarchal with the older people on top and the younger people on the bottom. By this, I mean why is it not more ok for adults to learn from younger generations? I am constantly in awe of the younger generations and learn from them all the time. I am often amazed by the level of daring introspection present on tumblr pages run by teenage girls. Let’s face it, teenagers dare, and they often have more guts than adults do. As I get older and start stressing out about being taken seriously, about dressing my age, and about being an artist who works with such an infantile colour palette, I worry that I am losing some of the courage I had as a teenager. In the book All About Love Bell Hooks wrote: “When writing poetry in my girlhood, I had felt the same confidence I would come to see in my adult life only in male writers.” (All About Love p.xxi) So it’s not just me, we do actually lose courage as we grow up. So why are women more afraid as adults? Is there really more to lose or are mistakes just more costly as we get older?
In the book Girldrive, Nona Willia Aronowitz and Emma Bee Bernstein interviewed Riot Grrrl icon Kathleen Hanna who said when speaking of her earlier years as a feminist punk musician: “It’s the arrogance of youth that made anything happen. I am glad I opened my mouth even though I didn’t fully know what I was saying.” (Girldrive p.148) The “arrogance of youth” can be off putting and naive, but it also allows for so much more bullshitless honesty. Some people may think it’s crazy, and even socially irresponsible, for bloggers like Tavi Gevinson to have such a huge audience at such a young age. However, if you actually read her blog Rookie Mag or listen to her speak, you might understand that a girl like her is exactly what this generation of young (and even older) women needs, because what she offers is not a rule book on being a girl or a woman like so many other things in pop culture, but instead she creates a space for questions. “The point is not to give girls the answers, and not even to give them permission to find the answers themselves, but hopefully inspire them to understand that they can give themselves that permission. They can ask their own questions and find their own answers.” (Tavi Gevinson at TEDxTEEN)
So I guess my question now is whether it really matters if I wear a yellow mini skirt as an adult? By getting rid of it am I allowing myself to grow or am I holding myself back by trying to become a grown up?