In the summer between 5th and 6th grades, I had no clothes.
We’d just moved from Humboldt county California back to Alaska. I wasn’t naked, but I had one box for all my things. ALL my things, including clothes. You can imagine how that worked out.
But school had to start. I had niether enough clothes to last a week at school, nor any means to purchase them. So I hit up the give-n-take at church. That glorious closet of hand-me-downs served me well.
My goal was to own 5 pairs of pants. The clothing that I had been wearing during the summer was simply done as far as I was concerned. I never wanted to see them again, and anyway, they were past being wearable. To my delight and relief, I found four pairs of what appeared to be BRAND NEW pants in the give-n-take.
They were identical cotton polyester pants with an elastic waist band, the right size, but in four different colors:
“Look mom! I can wear a dress on chapel day, and have enough pants so I can wear different ones for each day.” They did sort of remind me of the kind of clothes a grandmother would wear, the kind that are advertised in the pages of Parade magazine in the sunday paper. But what I feared most, being teased for not owning enough pants, would certainly be averted by these glaringly different slacks.
I guess neither of us really anticipated that the kids in the Alaskan Christian School would be bigger clothes snobs than the kids from Humboldt county. It took until about the 3rd day of school for me to figure it out.
I found ways to earn money for pants as fast as I could. Three months went by before I had the 20 bucks to buy a non-shaming pair of pants. In the meantime, I found that skirts were my friend.
The pink pants were the most onerous. Kids from lower grades teased me about them, even after I had stopped wearing them (for good, believe me. I felt like burning those hated pants).
“Pink pants Pink pants!!”
I didn’t wear pink even once the rest of the year.
My class was made up of three grades, fifth, sixth, and seventh. I remember once, talking with a likable fifth grader about boys. Beginning with my strategy of avoiding the color pink, I had formed a theory about attracted boys which I shared with her:
“You have to be a tomboy. If you act like a boy, they will feel comfortable around you and then..maybe…even like you.”
Such sage advice from a 12 year old–I don’t know what made me think I had something to say about attracting boys. Certainly none of the boys in our class were interested in me. Maybe I was just hoping that my natural exuberance–which wasn’t ladylike–would get me what I was hoping for.
I do consider myself feminine. I have reclaimed my beloved color pink. But I am not ladylike. I don’t wait to be asked, because I simply don’t believe that will ever happen. It’s up to me to get things started.
Ask the question if you don’t know. Ask for what you need, or even what you want.
What makes that unladylike, I’d like to know? why not?
And yet, I can’t help but notice the reaction.
I was in a training class recently, and sat in the middle. When I had a question I raised my hand and asked it. But on the break, I walked up to the front to take a look at some technology there.
The teacher (male) said “Uh Oh, I’m in trouble now.”
I wanted to smack him. How insecure is this guy to be scared of me asking a question? Or was it just me? unladylike me?
Man, it’s hard enough with all the other things that can detract and derail. I believe that women must be assertive..yes pushy..to take care of the things that are most important.
When it comes to the people we women care about, we women have to push to get them what the need. From the local school principal to the President of the United states, we have to be willing to push.
And that includes pushing for ourselves.
But you know, if people think I’m pushy, it really reflect back on themselves. I wouldn’t have to push if I could just get the answer/resources/materials that I need when I ask nicely the first time