Confession: I dislike some girls because of the way they dress. I know that’s pretty unusual. But it’s a conditional dislike based on the way I’ve managed to dress myself. This is how it goes:
I have good grooming spells that usually last between one and two weeks. I do my laundry and fold it. I wake up early enough to shower and straighten my hair, I pick clothes that go together, and I look cute. (During these well-groomed periods I also spend a good amount of time looking in mirrors, and I try to catch glimpses of myself in the partial reflections of windows.) I think well of other groomed women at my humble scholastic institution when I am in this phase.
These phases are usually separated by about eight weeks of the I’m-tired-have-been-drinking-too-much-wine-and-coffee-staying-up-late-singing-songs-to-myself-the-washer-is-overflowing-onto-the-floor-does-he-like-me?-I-am-not-a-size-two-damn spells. I tend to resent those women who, by all appearances, have straightened and curled their hair in nice big ringlets. They have lots of matching articles of clothing (and attending trains of men), look like they’ve been sleeping on cotton candy, and smile a lot. And I hate them.
But I was thinking the other day, it’s not Candace’s fault that she looks darling (Well, maybe that is her fault, but it’s possible she was raised by kittens and can’t help it.) and that I have decided to dump all my laundry on the floor and am trying to avoid the shower because it doesn’t drain properly. She doesn’t deserve how I dislike her for being cuter than me.
And I realized how to get out of this two-on-eight-off conditional dislike cycle. I don’t have to be cute.
Cute is the prevailing fashion umbrella for women. The goal of cuteness is to look similar to infants – big eyes, round head, small frame, soft skin, no body hair, etc. Social characteristics like being affectionate, helpless, playful, and innocent also contribute to cuteness. It is so ubiquitous that it’s easy to forget that other umbrellas exist.
I’ve tried to fit various looks under cuteness and have ended up in contortions. For example, when I’m in my slob or hard-working-student phases, I’ve tried to look like a cute slob, etc. And it’s much better to look like a determined slob than to look like a slob who is trying to be fetching. Other people will say, “She’s making a bold fashion statement in her sweatpants and t-shirt with the pit stains. Good for her.” And I won’t have to hate girls who are cute, because we’re aiming for different looks. Like apples and oranges.
Here are some other umbrella looks that I have thought of:
Smoking hot (or hott, I suppose. I’ve never been a huge fan of needless additional letters): this look could also be called slutty depending on degree. The nice thing about removing this from under the cute umbrella is that 1) you can remove all your hair barrettes and embroidered butterflies. And 2) you don’t need to both look smoking hot and have a winning personality. That just confuses everyone.
Athletic: You don’t need to apply make-up before going to the gym, and you can wear shorts instead of yoga pants. You can also cut the sleeves out of your t-shirts. Make the arm holes really big so that if you get shot at from the side you run no risk of putting unintended holes in your shirt.
Hippie: don’t shower or shave and eat food that is good for you and from the ground. A close look to this one could be Bohemian.
Ryan Henderson: Once I put together an outfit based on what I remember my friend regularly wearing when we were in elementary school.
Pretty much, if you have a name to describe you look, you are ready to go. The outfits should have some sort of unity and intention. They need not be cute. Go, and be free.