Throughout high school and college I'd spent quite a bit of the money I'd earned working as lifeguard/barista/pet store clerk/ assistant in the training room on clothes, and most were pretty standard fair for what you find would find in any junior's department, or in any of the other stores that are generally aimed at the high school/ college set. For the most part they were strapless or had teeny tiny straps, or were super low or super short... and across the board they were ultra tight.
And suddenly they just didn't feel right anymore. If I wore something that was moving, in my mind, into the too short/tight/low category, I'd find myself tugging at it until I finally threw my hands up in the air and went to change.
Around the same time I began to read more about Catholicism, both in books and online, discovering first Catholic forums and then the Catholic blogosphere. I read quite a few books with very traditional views on dress, marriage and femininity and quite a bit of what I read resounded as true, or at least bits and pieces of the chapters did.
In the beginning I did very closely follow those certain oft-quoted standards for modesty that I see floating around the Catholic blogosphere rather regularly and passed off as standards for the laity, although they were actually advice for nuns and sisters that were laid out decades ago. I embraced those standards as completely as I could with the clothing pieces that I found and could afford here and there on sale racks and at yard sales.
Around that time I started blogging, and would often stumble through posts on my attempts at dressing more modestly, trying to explain what I was feeling. I met both women who could relate to the steady feeling that I found rising in my chest that something needed to change and I found an equal measure of criticism from people who seemed only too enthusiastic to call names, tell me that they're husbands were so, so thankful that they weren't married to someone like me and let me know that I looked like a freak (these insults usually included disparaging remarks about other religions as well, that I'd rather not bring back up specifically, since they were so ugly, but that showed a general hostility to any form of dress that didn't conform to typical American standards). Most readers probably didn't really care one way or another, but the comments that came through were usually from the people on one end of the spectrum or the other, as so often happens.
It didn't take long for dresses to feel more comfortable than pants and I really found the arguments that most people made about dresses to not be true in my case. I didn't live someplace particularly windy and I was constantly down on the floor with my toddler, but with many of the flouncy fun skirts I found movement just wasn't a challenge. And with layers I could stay toasty warm when it was in the teens outside.
I had readers ask how I stayed warm and I even wrote a post about how it wasn't a problem at all and could be easily done. Looking back pride was certainly already beginning to creep in (or maybe had already arrived in a torrent and I was totally submerged) but as so often is the case I couldn't see it, because dressing modestly these days was at the same time rather humiliating, especially with the fairly frequent mean comments I received fairly regularly on my blog back in those days.
And then I found myself not wanting to wear them... at all. I turned that problem over in my head over and over again. They weren't too tight. If I saw those pants on someone else I would think were perfectly fine. So what was the problem?
I tried to ignore it, but it was sitting there, facing me while Paul was going into stores trying to find firewood where none existed.
I didn't want to put on those pants because then I couldn't say "I haven't worn pants in more than three years." It was as simple as that. And it was pride pure and simple.
So I put on those perfectly practical pants and wore them when it was -15 degrees outside and broke that gloriously prideful going-on-four-year streak. And when I went out to shovel snow I wasn't wrapped in a wet heavy skirt afterwards.
And then I started to fret. I remembered how I basically got slaughtered (or felt like I did) when I asked if it was okay to wear sleeveless shirts when I was out walking, pushing a stroller, when I was pregnant and sweltering in south west Florida's super humidity (oh how I hate that that is still one of my most popular posts of all time). And I also knew that a lot of women had related to my journey towards wearing skirts... would I suddenly lose all the friends I'd made across the blogosphere if I admitted to... wearing pants?
|Although now we're reaching the point where|
very few things... from dresses to skirts
to pants... fit all that well...
Still, it took me months to sit down and write this post. And honestly, it has probably affected my writing in general as it always does when I have something that my brain apparently wants to write about that I keep trying to hush and push to the back burner to simmer for a little bit longer. I was sure I wouldn't be able to find the right words. Maybe I still haven't. And yet I felt compelled to write about this roller coaster of a journey, which in part has involved that aspect of modesty that involves dress and that probably bores 99% of the people reading it (who are at this moment, if they've read this far thinking: Did you really think anyone would care?!?!?!).
In the end, these days I do wear dresses most of the time. It's what's in my closet and I do find them pretty comfortable after years of wearing nothing else. But pants are in the mix now too, especially when it's practical, but also on some days, just because the corduroy maternity pants that have been tucked away in a box for the past six years that I discovered on my trip back to California are quite possibly the most comfortable piece of clothing in existence... and I'm finally starting to accept that I don't need an excuse to wear them!