self-portrait sunday: IT'S BACK, YO

project 52, week 18

You have to understand: in the world where I grew up, "feminist" was an insult. Women were to be keepers at home, raising children, canning food, etc. It was expected that I wouldn't go to college, but would instead live at home until I got married, at which point I would begin to produce grandchildren. (This idea lasted until I was about 20, and, with no husband in sight at that advanced age, my dad concluded I'd better get some education or he'd be stuck with the care and feeding of me FOREVER.)
If this sounds quaint, archaic, and even charming: it was. Sort of. I spent much of my teen years convinced I'd been born into the wrong era, based, of course, on the clothes. I'm not designed to wear most of what was popular in the nineties and aughties. The New Look, on the other hand, pretty much works for me. Fifties clothing? It *fits* me. Paging through old fashion magazines filled me with longing to be back in that era, when men were men, women were ladies, and people wore hats.
Since I was raised with kind of fifties mentality for gender roles, it doesn't surprise me that I chose that era. (It was a toss-up between that and WWII, but all that rationing? Eh.) Phyllis Schlafly, with her tireless campaigning against the Equal Rights Amendment (because I mean really: why should women want to get the same pay as men when doing the same work??) was considered a heroine, and her monthly newsletters were duly read and digested.
But despite all that, I was taught to think for myself, to reason out ideas, to question authority, and above all: if I worked hard enough I could achieve anything I wanted to. So somehow, at some point, and I'm not even sure how, I turned into a feminist, firmly convinced that it's my responsibility to use my brain to the best of its ability, in or out of the home. I've become ever so grateful that because of the work of others, I have the choice of staying home and having babies, working outside the home, running my own business. I can vote. I can own property. These are not small matters.
And what does all this have to do with clothes? Well, I've changed my mind. Don't get me wrong: I still love my vintage (the dress in the picture is from the fifties, and I've had it for a good 8 years. LOVE.), but I also now look at the pictures from that era with a different eye. Everyone looked the same. Yes, they all looked beautiful, but almost inevitably, everyone wore the same style of dress, similar hats, the same suit. And today? Today if I want to go out in a fifties dress with sixties glasses, eighties earrings, and new shoes, I can. Yes, people will think I look funny, but no sillier than the guy with his pants falling off.
I guess what it comes down to is: I have choices now. I wouldn't trade my time in history for anything.


*tiffany* said…
Love this post!!! It warmed up my heart this morning! And love the pic too :)
Toiling Ant said…
I'm convinced I never would have survived the actual 50's-- thank God for the women of the 60's who paved the way for us to have so many choices. :-D

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