I have these bows that I wear sometimes for fun. They give off a kind of 50s style when you wear them, like you could be an old school cleaner or Rosie the Riveter, it’s a cute aesthetic that I love and I definitely don’t wear my bows as much as I should considering how much I love them, but alas growing confident in your fashion decisions is a long process. But I did wear one of my bows last Friday, a white one that has the pattern of a black cat and green fern leaves on it, my favourite of the two if I’m being honest. I had my hair done up in a simple braid and put the bow as a way to kind of jazz up my dull hairdo I guess. I wore my orange lipstick to accent the bow (another fashion trend that I’m slowly growing confident in) and was happy with how I looked for the day (which is another rare occurrence).
I went to work like normal and was unprepared for the attention my simple fashion choices would bring, one of my co-workers told me she loved my bow and if it was different from my last one (it was, and she always loves my bows) but it was the attention from the customers I wasn’t expecting. Some were nice and much like my co-workers, liking the bow and from some older women commenting how they remembered wearing bows in the 60s and liked seeing them again.
But I wasn’t expecting the attention from the men, I’m not a person that usually draws attention, hardly ever a second glance, so to have men stand and continue looking and talking to me is as rare as a unicorn sighting in my book.
It wasn’t inappropriate, or at least not as bad as it could be. It was innocent enough things like one older man saying they liked the bow and then staring at me after I had said thank you and complimenting my eyes. It was attention I wasn’t used too, attention I didn’t really like.
And then there was a customer later who needed help on the computer. He noticed the bow too and pointed to his own head as he complimented mine and asked for help. I got up from the work desk and went over to help him and he kind of backed up in his chair as he looked at me, “Woah, you’re tall!”
It made me laugh, I’m 5″10 so I’m above average height for a girl but still it wasn’t the reaction I was expecting. I got him to log on to the computer and he looked at me again and said, “Can I see your fingers?”
Which is an odd request, but I showed him because I was thinking he had seen green-blue colour of my nails and wanted a better look at them. I showed him and he inspected my fingers before saying, “So you’re not hitched yet?”
And I immediately curled my fingers into my hand and then held my hands together so no one could see my fingers. I laughed a bit and told him we should focus on the computer instead when he asked, “Do you like music?” I kind of flustered a bit and he said, “I just don’t know you, that’s why I’m asking all these questions, I’m just being nice.” He continued trying to log on to the computer until I eventually left as he tried to remember his password, telling him I would help him further if he needed it.
It’s weird what attention like this does to you, how something you like can quickly be associated with something bad. My bow and lipstick made me happy when I was getting nice compliments about them, when customers were being kind. And it’s not like the other customers weren’t being kind only that it caused a different feeling, one with too many stares, with too many strange requests and follow up compliments, one where a nasty thought snuck into my head that if I wasn’t wearing my bow or my lipstick that no one would stare at me or ask to see my fingers to see if I was “hitched.”
Which is a stupid thought and one I quickly pushed away. Because I am going to keep wearing my bows and my bright coloured lipstick and I’m not going to let weird comments about my eyes and my fingers make me stop from liking how I look. It’s so easy to let happen, so easy to use this subtle attention (possibly borderline harassment if things had escalated) all because of what someone is wearing. I’m going to wear what I want, when I want and not let any attention I get affect my decision about it.
I am not going to let strange comments and unwanted attention make myself want to be invisible, make myself unhappy with how I look.