Tuesday, May 25, 2010

On ballet flats and bodies

Green cardi: Banana Republic (remixed)
Black shirt dress: Target (remixed)
Brown woven belt: Target (remixed)
Patterned green ballet flats: Banana Republic Factory Store
Green chandelier earrings: gift from a friend in Guatemala
Black beaded bracelet: gift from my uncle (remixed)
Phantom circle in the middle of the shot: ????

This outfit came together almost by accident. I knew I was going to wear this dress mostly because I didn't want to think about clothes today, but the cardi and the shoes that really MAKE the outfit were afterthoughts.

I have to say, I'm pretty pleased, although these shoes are CRAZY UNCOMFORTABLE!!! I have to stop buying flats from BR, because they inevitably tear up the backs of my feet, as you can tell from the preponderance of moleskin in this pic.

I like the crisp and elegant combination of black and kelly green and the unexpected touch of brown thrown in. I was also digging the collar popping up over the neck of this cardigan.

I swear, Kiku is not growling. She was just jumping on and off of my lap because she was so excited to have me at her level.

I felt like a cross between a school girl from the 1950s - except with a much narrower skirt - and a ballerina all day. I blame the shoes and the cardigan.

I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed in myself for pulling out this black dress, because I was doing so well with avoiding black. That said, that bright cardigan really kicks it up; it's hard to feel down when you're wearing such a delicious color.

The kids seem to know that green is my favorite color every time I wear it. Must be that it puts a spring in my step.

Also, these braids make me happy. I haven't done my hair like this in quite a while and I like it.

So, B. and I went to our salsa class tonight. One of the students brought her daughter who's a dancer, like for real. Our salsa classes are kinda, down home, old-school Puerto Rican, ready for a party on the marquesina salsa classes as opposed to more ballroom style salsa with fancy dance terms. I couldn't tell you for the life of me what a ball change is, but we dance.

Anyway, this girl was a ballroom style dancer. She did fancy steps and styling, which is when the women do completely unnecessary hand movements just because they're pretty. I feel insanely awkward doing any kind of styling because it draws attention to me, and I'd much rather blend into the crowd. This girl, however, moved with a confidence that belied her youth and the connection she has to her body. And as I was watching, I kept thinking about how I've come to connect my brains and my adulthood with covering up.

There's this idea that smart women, good girls, keep themselves covered up. And I started realizing how much I believe this during Dress Your Best Week when I struggled with celebrating my body. Once I got past that terribly awkward phase we all hit between about eight and ten years old, people started telling me I was pretty. And I started moving a lot, so I was the pretty new girl. What I wanted, though, was to be recognized for my mind and my mouth. I wanted the things I said to matter, and in order for them to matter, I had to be "more than" the pretty girl. So I put on more clothes. I wore men's jeans, stole my father's shirts, and wore long skirts. Even now, when I wear things that flatter my body, I try to keep things pretty covered up.

Part of that is related to the nature of my job. I teach high school, there are lots of hormonal little boys in my classroom, and out of respect for them, I try not to show off my body too much. Part of that is my own comfort level, which is related both to my faith and my feminist leanings; I just can't take myself seriously when my shirts are too low cut, especially when skimpy spaghetti straps are involved.

But there's another part of me that's wondering if it's just that I'm not all that comfortable in this body. That I've been hiding behind brains and belief and cutting myself off from the pure physicality of my life. Does that make sense?
When I'm getting dressed, I'm saying I'm intelligent, professional, educated, creative, traditional, liberal.... I'm saying a lot of things, but not a one of those things is that I have a body that moves and works and is necessary for me to say everything I want to say. I mean, at least not consciously.

And I'm not sure that I've completely sorted this all out, but today, tomorrow, this week, I want to be more conscious of my body. Of the things it does, of the necessity of what it purely physical. I think I do pretty well with not separating my life into the sacred and the mundane; I don't think of my "spiritual life" and my "secular life" if that makes any sense. That said, I don't do so well at bringing together the brains with the beauty, or at least, I'm bad at celebrating them together. Maybe if I get to that point, I'll be able to dance like that girl, celebrating my body without feeling so terribly self-conscious.


  1. I didn't know you are a teacher! Great! I think you dress very nice and that outfit is great, I love the green color, it just makes that outfit more happy. =)
    And I definitely love your hair! You must show us how to do it! Pleeease. =)

  2. I'll see if I can figure out our webcam to do a video on the hair over the weekend.

  3. Too bad those shoes are so uncomfortable, they're my favorite flats that you have.


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