Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Mess up your hair. If you are wearing makeup – smudge it. If you have a pair of pants that dont really fit you – put them on. Put on a top that doesn’t go with those pants. Go to your sock drawer. Pull out two socks that don’t match. Different lengths, materials, colors, elasticity.
Now two shoes. You know the drill.
Need to add more? Ties? Hair clips? Stick your gut out? I trust you to go further.
Take a picture.
Get ready to post it online.
Are you feeling dread? Excitement? Is this not the image you have of yourself? Write about the fear or the thrill that this raises in you? Who do you need to look good for and what story does it tell about you? Or why don’t you care?
(Author: Matthew Stillman)
It is the need to conform, to fit in. In India, old women will never wear shorts, not at home, and not to the neighbour or the marketplace. In the Indian villages, girls begin to dress very modestly when very young, whereas in urban cities like Mumbai, girls of the same age wear figure-hugging jeans and noodle strap tops. My brother says that in Australia, his children walk to school barefoot and in their swim suits, the ocean is close, and they attend class in swimsuits! In India, a kid going to school barefoot would be very poor, and swimsuits are never worn anywhere but at the beach or the swimming pool. I wear a sari to a formal party but jeans or a salwar suit if I go out informally. I am not much of a dresser at home, prefer to lounge around in loose and comfortable clothes, and will visit the local market too without make-up or dressed in fancy clothes and footwear. I have neighbours though who will not step out of their door unless their hair is in place, and they have their jewellery and lipstick on. I really do not dress, but if I have to go out to dinner etc. , then I will.
I remember , in my college days, my boyfriend arrived unexpectedly one night and I was dressed for bed in a kurta pyjama (casual dress for sleeping) and wearing the rubber chappals I wear at home to relax in. He said we would go for a drive and I agreed, for the weather was good. We drove around enjoying the night breeze and I told him I was hungry. He stopped in front of a 5 star hotel and said I should get out, he was going to treat me to a good dinner. Now , I could walk into an ordinary restaurant dressed the way I was and fend off the occasional stare, but a 5 star hotel? I stuck my bum to my seat and refused to move. Rubber chappals in a hotel! My ears were burning , I would never do it. In those days, dress codes were not laid down, so I could have got away with it, but my own sense of what was not ‘suitable’ got the better of me. He had an impish smile on his face when he , dressed in white kurta pyjama as well, casusally got back into his car and lit a cigarette. I was angry with him too, wondering what had made him suggest such a thing, but anyways, he was a bit of a rebel so he was capable of such acts. And I was, in those days, a girl who played very much by the book. Today, if I wanted to do the same thing, for I am not such a rule book follower anymore, the hotel itself would not allow it, they have dress codes firmly in place. Sad, but true.
So of course, I have an image to live up to and a society to live in. I dress only because of that. Who needs clothes otherwise? J
Moreover, everyone says I look wonderful when I dress up to look pretty. So that works like an occasional incentive. I sometimes also do it to cheer myself up, a dash of colour on my lips works wonders for my ego.
We are ourselves impressed and deluded by our own images. When the real thing is not working for us anymore, a little bit of the mask helps. Anything to keep the smile on the face from slipping. The world cannot live with truths, me included.
And the dress suggested by this prompt, well, if that is the image of the season…lead me to it. Otherwise it is a dare I will do without. To be the lone and solitary reaper of brickbats and sniggers and insinuations…nope, not for me.
I do not need to dress different to show that I am different. I do not need to spell it out to people who will not understand. I do not want the wrong kind of attention. I will do what I will do without outright proclamations.
So, of course, the image is all.