Two tales of the black dress
I remember the first day I tried on a black dress, I felt so powerful, so excited to see what I looked like in-front of the mirror, there was something inside of me that wondered where I’ve hidden certain parts of my self-esteem and why those parts became alive when I wore a beautiful black dress.
I started to think about the process of getting my hair done, putting on my make-up and finally dressing up and getting into the dress. My emotions were heightened because I told myself that this clothing item could make me feel invincible.
But then I also started thinking about “why dint I feel this exact same way when I’m putting on a tracksuit, with no makeup, why did I feel so good only when I had to dress up?”
Well I guess “the black dress” was not only a clothing/fashion item, it helped me unlearn certain things about myself and how to be comfortable from within. “The black dress” was a mindset that I needed to let go of. I realized that no-matter what I wear I can still feel good enough, wanted by myself, before I can decide whether I would be wanted by others. It helped me learn how to exist for my own body and whatever I wanted to wear.
“The black dress” can translate to so many things to different women. It could mean overcoming an eating disorder, forgiving yourself and finding healing within who you are, wanting to go on a night out and having fun with your friends and feeling safe without wondering if a man will mishandle your body, overcoming certain phases in life or it could be, finding love in your body and accepting your flaws.
My favorite item in my closet is my little black dress. My body isn’t perfect but I still love it… Blissfully showing the golden brown hue of my overly moisturized legs. Tightly wrapping my waist in all the right places and delicately accentuating my assets in a way they unquestionably deserve. My little black dress gives me the type of confidence that people most often associate with “look good, feel good and do good”.
Consistently assuring me that because I look good I’m more acceptable. I too will be the face that people are naturally drawn to and simply want to talk to. It makes me socially acceptable, goodness, it definitely makes my networking life a lot easier. I mean people just come to you. I’m not your conventional weaved up pretty yellow bone, but damn, this dress definitely has me feeling really close. My little black dress always just feels like it’s does the job, so you can’t blame me for making it my go to dress.
Then one day, something happened. I remember attending an event on a Thursday evening, a talk, about the future being female. Nothing too big, maybe 30 women at most in a sort of intimate space with luxurious deep red couches. I knew it would be the type of event where we would be politely served champagne and popcorn, and I thought let me bring out my little black dress. Now the event was mostly sent out to women in corporate. Generally people arrived in what they wore to work that day.
But I made sure I found time to change after work, so my dress became the shortest outfit in the room. I remember sitting down only to hear the ladies behind me gossip about my outfit, and not positively. The irony inadvertently hit me: I’m at an event that promotes women empowerment and the acceptance of woman in specific corporate spaces, yet in this room full of the very women who are here to advocate for women to be embraced in positions of power, I’m being judged for wearing supposedly “too short” a black dress. I now have two questions:
- Too short for what exactly?
- How are you embracing me as a woman by not embracing something that is uniquely and significantly associated to being a woman? … A little black dress.
If we take it back a notch, something is defined as too short because it makes men uncomfortable and it’s also often the “reason” you get raped. Thus wearing items that are revealing is a big no for corporate offices where men are the predominant gender. But that’s a battle for another day.
However, when we as women allow those rules to determine how we judge each other, even outside of the spaces that disallow these items of clothing, we completely lose control of the ball. Especially if it’s us women enforcing these rules upon each other. My little black dress doesn’t make my opinion less relevant and neither does it make me “a hoe”. If I am confident and comfortable in my dress then allow me to wear it without judgment and enforcing societal rules on me. Let’s embrace each other in our entirety.
These are two different perceptions from two women who have similar experiences, different life lessons. But one-thing in-common, “The Black Dress”.
What does the black dress, mean to you?