I am not from Omaha. I get the "Where are you from?" question all the time, but typically only after I open my mouth and the accent gives me away. Today I got it before I spoke, which was kind of satisfying knowing my manner of dress stands out from the crowd.
I'm enjoying growing older. Sure, there's the usual aging stuff I could do without (Three flights of stairs in this house...what was I thinking?!) but it is liberating to do as I please without worry. I'm not interested in recapturing my youth, or hiding my age. If I want to wear a silly hat, or outrageous shoes, I do it.
Just around the corner from where I live, there's a cosmetic surgery office with the most awful electronic billboard. Stuck at a light on Dodge Street, I can be treated to a flashing sign offering a, "Mommy Makeover", and then see the image of an anime-style cartoon woman in a bikini that is little more than boobs and a tiny waist. "Your bikini is ready...are you?" it asks. It isn't even a real woman, it is a grotesque distortion of a woman's features. If I want to wear a bikini I will, and anyone that doesn't want to look can turn away. Trust me, no one is looking at anyone our age, so go ahead and wear the bikini sans plastic surgery-buy yourself something you want instead.
I suppose that's why I stand out, I don't give a shit about perfecting myself. Maybe, if the dress really requires it for era authenticity, I will give in and wear a girdle. But to look thinner? Good god no. When I was younger I worked in the foundations department at Filene's in Boston. It was the saddest job I ever held. Skinny, bony, women in their middle age would come in and buy these horrible contraptions (This was the era before Spanx) spanning from bustline to thighs, complaining they were getting fat. You couldn't reason with them, so I sold the torturous undergarments and went home each evening feeling terrible. Boobs sag, waistlines spread. Even the most athletic will see changes in their bodies because they are aging. A boob lift and liposuction isn't going to change reality-at least not my reality.
I was at the thrift store trying on a pair of thigh high leopard print boots (!) when a woman my age caught my eye.
"Hey, that's the privilege of getting older, you can wear the crazy boots without trying to look sexy." I said. I bought the boots. A few aisles over she ran into me again as I was checking out a leather skirt. We both laughed. I bought that skirt as well, because I can wear it in my own kooky way.
No, I'm not from Omaha, but I've been in Nebraska long enough to know there's more than a bit of social pressure on women to look a certain way. The height of this was when everyone got the same haircut that looked all chopped in layers at the back. It is a terrible haircut, made worse by foil streaking, but everywhere I went, I noticed it. I don't know about you, but I don't really want to look like everyone else. If that sets me aside as an outsider, that's fine and dandy. There's enough conformity in the world already where you don't have a choice. Putting on a crazy hat and some fancy shoes is an easy call. I mean, Thigh high leopard print boots people-if I hadn't bought them some drag queen would have. The queens get all the great shoes in large sizes at the thrift store. For once, my big fat feet got there first.
I'm only sorry I didn't have this sense and confidence when I was younger. Could have saved quite a bit of unhappiness along the way.