Today I am going to tell you how women are tortured by the money-grabbing fashion moguls, and why I want to smack them. So hang onto your Tight-as-an-Armored-Brink’s-Truck control-top pantyhose with the sheer toes. Yup. Sheer toes. I give them less than 15 minutes before the Big Toe Rip-Off occurs. But you won’t even notice it until later, when you release the mid-body compression chamber and blood flow resumes. My stomach hurts just thinking about it.
But that’s only the beginning. Walk with me, friend, in your pricey, 11?2-inch heel, 21?2-inch platform shoes – aka insurance code 824.8, unspecified fracture of ankle.
In high school, I was unhappy with my looks – long nose, small boobs, frizzy hair.
Then one day, I had a chance to model for a charity fashion show, run by a friend’s mom. I jumped at the chance.
Did I want to use my mind for creativity? No. Lofty endeavors? No. Did I care about saving the world? Negative. I just wanted to be pretty.
A dazzling experience it was not. I learned first-hand what women put up with. One thing I remember so clearly was wearing these things called “dress shields” – small, roundish pieces of cloth with thin, elasticized straps on two sides. Pulled up like a sleeve, they were positioned so each cloth covered an armpit, because, God forbid, a woman should sweat, especially onto a “loaner.” They were the most annoying things I’d ever worn, other than their sadistic counterpart of my teen years: the sanitary napkin belt.
Yeah. You older gals know what I’m talking about. You’re in seventh-grade science class, having your period, and you’re wearing a contraption that will not, and cannot, stay put longer than a few minutes at a time. Fun stuff. You think the thing’s in place, but then it’s time to get up for the lab experiment. Uh-oh. You can’t reach down and adjust, not when the boy you like is three feet away and waiting for you at the Bunsen burner. The genius who invented adhesive-backed pads should’ve received the Nobel Peace prize. Now that’s lasting peace.
And the underwire bra? At best they’re uncomfortable, and potentially dangerous. I’m talking about the stray escapee. Yes. I actually had the underwire itself break free and travel, unbeknownst to me, up and out of the collar of my shirt. Never knew what hit me until it hit me – in the chin. Try explaining that to your local parish priest on a bright, sunny Sunday during a chat after Mass.
While I’m at it, who started the whole shaving thing? Like we really need stubble/itching/break-outs. You know what I’m talking about. Oh. You wax? Please. Don’t even talk to me about the rip method.
Next? Thongs. The underwear, not the sandals. A couple of rubber bands around your sensitive region. How fun is that? And they’re not cheap. Put a cute design on them and you’ve got 10 bucks worth of, well, pretty much nothing.
I’m struck with the cost of being “pretty.” Here’s a test: ask your lover how much fashion or body treatments really matter. My husband Ted used to love the natural me so much that when we had a fight, I’d threaten to shave my armpits. That’s the kind of lover you want, ladies, not some superficial, European profiteer telling you to sink your hard-earned chocolate cake/plastic surgery money into jar after expensive jar of anti-aging cream.
I decided to do a little online research, though, just to take a more worldly approach. In a photo from the Alexander McQueen Royal Fall 2013 Fashion Collection, models wore designer Sarah Burton outfits, complete with jeweled, full headgear: pearl-lined, crisscrossed strips forming headpieces, a la form-fitting bird cage. Price tag aside, the thought of donning one gives me a panic attack, because although it looks possible to breathe, it would definitely be tricky to eat while wearing one. It’s an orthodonture-gone-wrong nightmare, coming down a runway. High fashion? It’s terrifying.
The industry has us fooled. We pay big money to look like someone’s idea of exciting, or a kind of eternally 20 that most of us never looked like when we actually were 20. And isn’t the way a woman looks naturally just so interesting and lovely? If only we could get comfortable with that. Like a disturbing dream, I keep coming back to that weird “cage” headgear. And it occurs to me (credit to poet Paul Laurence Dunbar and writer Maya Angelou) that “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” In fact, I know why the caged bird screams and squawks.
It’s saying, “Enough already.”