A while back, I was scrolling through Facebook—bored and not really looking for anything in particular—when I came across a picture of a woman.
She was a little bit older and a little bit larger, but she was wearing a great, beaming smile and a small dress covered in Disney characters.
“I finally got it!” read the caption, “I’ve been eyeing this dress for so long, and I’m so glad that I finally got it! It’s just a shame that it’s on my fat body.”
When I read this last part, my heart sank. I left the obligatory, “You look awesome in that dress, rock what you got!” comment, but I’ve been thinking about that comment ever since.
Because, really, I don’t think that it’s all too rare of a comment to make.
When it comes to clothing and style, people feel a need to conform to a certain set of expectations. People who are bigger in size are mocked and made fun of if they wear anything that shows off their body. People who are older are mocked if they dress “too young.” And when it comes to alternative styles, like funky hair colors, visible tattoos, or facial piercings, many people behave as though the act of getting them is a courageous one, telling people who have them, “Oh, you’re so brave! I could never do that!”
There are a lot of ways that society enforces these beliefs.
For example, certain employers will refuse to hire someone who has a tattoo of a flower on their arm, even if they’re dressed in a completely clean and professional fashion. These prejudices are man-made. They do not reflect any sacred truth; the only thing they reflect is the way that we as a society see people who do not conform to what is deemed the “appropriate” way to dress.
But restricting what a person can and can’t wear—or bullying an overweight person until they feel ashamed to so much as wear a dress—is a strange and cruel thing for society to do. Because, really, what does a person’s style really do to offend those around them?
How do inoffensive tattoos get in the way of a person’s ability to do their job?
How does an older woman wearing black lipstick and a mini skirt affect your day?
Why would a cisgendered man wearing a dress offend you?
And when you actually ask these questions to those who enforce these beliefs, oftentimes, they’ll come up with the same responses: because it looks silly.
But why does it look silly? The only reason that I can think of is because we don’t see it very often. And the reason we don’t see it often is because society bullies people out of doing it. They tell them that if they do it, then they’re wrong, they’re ugly, or they’re ridiculous—none of which is at all true.
There is nothing ugly about your body.
Your body is a magnificent thing, whether it is overweight, wrinkled, disabled, tattooed, covered in stretch marks, or whatever the case may be. It is a human body, and it is capable of sustaining you and bringing you through life.
And, of course, it isn’t perfect—nobody’s body is, and neither should they be. They should be scarred, and marked, and calloused, because these are the things that life does to us. These are the signs that we have lived.
So whatever you want to wear, whether that be sweatpants or a small dress covered in Disney characters, please wear it!
Some people might laugh or mock you, sure—but those people are wrong to do so. Those people are too stuck in their idea of what’s acceptable and what’s not that they haven’t even bothered to ask themselves why they feel that way.
And as far as the ways that society enforces these rules—the issue of employment and what not—there are always ways around it. Some employers might take issue, but others won’t. Others will look past the things that you choose to decorate your beautiful body with, and they’ll see you for who you truly are: a remarkable, open-minded person, who can’t be defined as easily as society says they should be.
Author: Ciara Hall
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Supervising Editor 1: Danielle Beutell
Supervising Editor 2: Callie Rushton