Lets see how fast I can blog. I have something on my mind and 10 minutes to get it out before I head off for the day...assuming the kids cooperate. In the end, I couldn't get this finished, I took off, running massively behind, but somehow managed to get the kids to school on time and avoid being pulled over despite seeing TWO police cars.
Anyhow, as I'm lying in bed resisting the need to get up and mucking around Facebook on my phone, I came across this article. Paul Gomille, birth of a controlling man and then read about this kid being suspended for his letter he had written and distributed. I first did a double take considering the source and his source, which he loathes, but okay, read on I did. Apparently this kerfuffle is going way high up the board and he's in deep doo doo. Me, I would have used it as an opportunity to open up discussion and really, suspend the kid? Considering that there is so much else going wrong in schools. How about suspending all the guys who aren't saying anything in public, but will call girls sluts because she had the nerve to kiss a fella. Suspend them!!!
So lets look at the letter (mind you I haven't had coffee yet, so I could be completely misreading it) So it starts off with a lot of ego-okay, teenage boy, typical. The next part, he's making two points. 1 is that you don't have to dress with your kilt barely covering your butt to be attractive, which is causing all the uproar and 2, true attractiveness comes from within.
So true attractiveness, we all agree comes from within right? Thank you teenage boy for stating it, you could have done it a little better, but I'll give you a mulligan on the fact you were probably watching TV, listening to music, eating a ton of food and sleep deprived when you wrote it. It's still very clear you put a lot of time, thought and effort into it. At first it almost seems like he is denigrating those who dress in revealing clothing as the opposite of intelligent and what have you, but I don't think so, just the opposite of those who aren't fitting within the mainstream. I think this is where it could have been written better...let this be a lesson to all you teens, give your letters you intend to distribute or soapbox speeches to your moms, we're great editors. We'll help you express your point and ideally keep your butt away from the fire. But really, isn't it important to hear that we don't have to look like Hollywood tells us to in order to be attractive? That it comes from good self esteem, being true to yourself? Don't we all wish we had this message sink in about 20 years ago? I sure as hell do.
Let me first state that I wholly believe that if a woman wants to walk down the street naked, she should be able to do so without fear of being assaulted in any way. I wanted to go to the first Slutwalk, but I was stuck doing something boring. But the question is, do we need to show a lot skin to be attractive? Of course not. There is nothing wrong with it and if it makes you feel great, go for it, but lets not beat around the bush here, there is a hell of a lot of pressure on young women to show a lot of skin and they might not be totally comfortable with that, but do it anyhow because they haven't acquired the age, wisdom and enough roadbumps to say "I don't give a fuck!"
I know I cringe every time I pass by a Catholic school and see skirts hiked up higher than the skirt on my bathing suit (yes I wear a skirt!!!). I cringe because I remember what it was like as a youngster feeling creeped out by the looks and attention of boys and men who wanted nothing more than to get into my pants. However I was told that that was a good thing, that that kind of attention, the popularity, was great, and maybe, just maybe out of all those guys, I would find my prince charming to whisk me away and have a sweet storybook romance with. There were a hell of a lot of toads to wean through. I was a pretty attractive girl, I had an hourglass figure and big boobs, needless to say I was REALLY popular in that regard. If I decided to wear something like what the gals in Catholic school wear every day, I'd have my choice of guys (all interested in one thing mind you). Instead, I generally wore clothes that covered me up. So my choices in expressing my attractiveness for me were feast or famine.
Nowadays, most of my fashion choices fall just below the knee and the skin I show usually consists of arms and calves. I like to dress well, I love to shop, I don't think there is a person who would say that I don't dress well. I do take a lot of pride in my appearance. I don't necessarily see my beauty as I should (a gabillion years of Hollywood programming takes its toll), but I do see my inner beauty in my strength of character, kindness and determination. That said, I do have a few summer items that do show some more cleavage, and I'm great with that. I didn't buy them thinking "ooh boy! These show off my chi chis, that ought to bring the men in" I bought them looking at the nipped waist and the flared skirt and scooped them up before some other woman could snatch it. So, if someone presumed to tell me that I was wearing what I was wearing to buy into the mainstream idea of beauty, I'd give them a good verbal smack.
So this kid Paul is straddling a fine line, because there is clearly a need for a lot of girls and women to be told that inner beauty is more important. Hell ,there are gabillion dollar ad campaigns that do so and we eat that up like its candy. Any blog post talking about inner beauty is circulated far and wide, and we all strive to tell our daughters or young women in life that they should wear what they want, be what size they want and not what Hollywood tells us what is sexy. We all lament about the negative idea of body image we are sent daily and many of us speak up about it. On the other hand, there are those of us who are fine dressing in something a little more revealing, we've been through hell and back again, we've done our inner work and at the end of the day, we want to show off our chi chis. I went to a birthday party this weekend and my friend was wearing something that showed off her figure very well, a lot of thigh and one of her shoulders. She looked great, not because she was showing off skin, but because she had gone through 40+ years of life and she knew she looked awesome. May we all live to live that way.
I ended up asking myself, would this kid have been suspended were he a female distributing this letter? I don't imagine she would. Now I agree that we gals earn the right to speak on these issues because we live them, but at the same time, isn't it good to open up a meaningful dialogue with the other half about these issues? Here's a kid who has an opinion, you might not agree with it, but it's well thought out and he's passionate about it, so lets suspend him from a place of education? There's nothing hateful or nasty in it, I would hardly label this kid as controlling or misogynistic based on this letter...maybe he is, but that's not what his fellow classmates are reporting. He didn't say that women shouldn't dress like sluts if they didn't want to get raped like one of Toronto's finest...and I think the cop got less punishment than this kid! Maybe he's a little old fashioned and needs to be enlightened to another point of view, sure, but DO IT!!! It's a school!!!
So Paul, you're kind of on the right track. A lot of people do need the message that inner beauty is what counts, and sometimes it is nice to hear that coming from the opposite sex, since so many of you guys will often notice those who dress and look and act Hollywood. I think the key is, recognizing that dressing a little revealing can and might not be synonymous with buying into Hollywood. However the road to getting to dressing with a little more showing without drinking the Kool-Aid is a long and hard one that is usually traveled with lots of mistakes, stumbles and challenges. Something that is usually learned over the course of years and takes a lot of trial by fire and experience to sink in. Part of being a teenager and young adult is learning those lessons, often the hard way. What is encouraging though is that this is being discussed so the lessons might not be so bumpy and hopefully, Paul and his school/board will be open enough to see the others point of view and have something meaningful come from it. Bottom line is, a discussion has been opened, its been opened respectfully and with good intent and it shouldn't be shut down, least of all in a school.