Tuesday, March 28, 2017

No curlers in the commissary! Or... true friends tell you the truth...



I'm writing again today because I finally remembered a topic I wanted to write about last night.  All of this uproar about leggings, yoga pants, and camel toes made me remember a simpler time back in the day...  I'm talking about dress codes on military installations.

Actually, dress codes in the commissary are supposedly still a "thing".  When you shop on a military installation, you're supposed to look presentable.  That means no spandex, no hats indoors, and no curlers in your hair, although I can't remember the last time I saw anyone wearing curlers in private, let alone at a military grocery store.  I used to wear them sometimes when I was a kid.  I'd sleep in them so I'd have curly hair the next day.  But my days of wearing curlers are long over now.

I never got in trouble for not dressing appropriately at the commissary.  In fact, I don't think a lot of today's servicemembers even know that the policy used to be strictly enforced.  I do remember maybe fifteen years ago having brunch at a Coast Guard station with my parents.  Next to the entrance of the dining room, there was a big sign outlining what was and wasn't acceptable dress.  I distinctly remember seeing the word "curlers" as among the specifically forbidden attire.

Some time later, when I lived at Fort Belvoir, I remember discussing the dress code with a fellow Army wife.  She scoffed at what she saw as the command's overreach.  I remember the commander had outlawed spandex with the explanation that some people "didn't need to be wearing it" in public.  While I agree that wearing spandex is ill advised for some people, what is and what isn't appropriate can sort of be in the eye of the beholder.  There was a time, however, when women who shopped at the commissary were supposed to wear dresses.  They weren't allowed to wear house coats, ratty pajama pants, or tank tops.  Men, likewise, were expected to look presentable and respectable.

Nowadays, a lot of people don't like the idea of being expected to dress to impress.  They will say they dress for comfort and screw anyone who doesn't like what they put on in the morning... or afternoon, as it were.  Hell, while I usually try to wear makeup if I'm going somewhere, if I'm sitting at home, I usually stay in my nightgown.  I like to be comfortable and rarely see anyone except the random people who ring my doorbell.  And I don't care if they're offended by my saggy, braless, boobs and bare face because #1., they were almost never invited to ring my bell and #2., my interaction with them is usually less than a minute.  You want me to look presentable when I answer the door?  Make an appointment.

In the article I linked above, there is a letter quoted by a man from Rhode Island who wanted yoga pants, leggings, and mini-skirts banned for people over age 20.  He wrote:

"Like the mini-skirt, yoga pants can be adorable on children and young women who have the benefit of nature's blessing of youth. However, on mature, adult women there is something bizarre and disturbing about the appearance they make in public," wrote Alan Sorrentino.

Well... I don't know that I'd go so far as to say that leggings, yoga pants, or mini-skirts are bizarre and disturbing on older women.  Some older women can pull them off just fine.  Unfortunately, it comes down to self-awareness and honesty with oneself... or, barring that, being able to take truthful, constructive advice from friends and loved ones.  Really.  I think a true friend will tell you kindly, but honestly, if your outfit is in poor taste or doesn't do a thing for you, as my mom would say.

My ex best friend was famously rude about some things, but I distinctly remember her telling me she liked a hideous pair of pants I tried on when we were shopping.  I'm 99% certain she was lying to me and secretly relishing the idea that I'd look ridiculous wearing them in public.  She was brutally candid with her opinions when she didn't need to be, but also a little too complimentary when she shouldn't have been.

At the time, I believed this ex bestie when she said the ugly knit pants "pulled my waist in" (bullshit!).  I wanted to believe her, of course.  At the time, I was obsessively worried about my weight and endlessly dieting to the point of stupidity.  I desperately wanted to believe that the smaller size I tried on actually fit and looked good, even if deep down, I probably knew the truth.  Yet she smiled at me and said I looked fine even as I continually pulled the pants out of my ass crack and squirmed as the inseams pulled irregularly at my thighs.

I know she was loving the thought of me sporting a camel toe or a wedgie while engaged in the business of the day.  A true friend would have said something to prevent that from happening.  Yes, it would have stung if she had said I should get something else, but it would have been the right thing to do.  That would have been the action of a real friend.

Years later, when my ex friend insulted my husband (saying he looked too old for me) while we were engaged, and then flirted outrageously with him at my wedding rehearsal (yes, the day before our wedding), I came to the very painful and obvious conclusion that she was never a true friend.  A true friend is not full of shit and won't want to see you publicly humiliated or embarrassed.  A true friend isn't abusive, cruel, or overly endowed with Schadenfreude.  A true friend has the other person's best interests at heart, even if it means a few minutes of awkwardness or embarrassment.  I would rather be humiliated for a couple of minutes in front of my friend who loves and appreciates me than embarrassed forever in front of other people who don't.

Anyway... I probably still look ridiculous most of the time.  I care less now than I did twenty years ago.  But at least I have given up spandex and curlers.

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