Who exactly is it that sets the rules for what is ‘age appropriate’? Is there some secret council of highly knowledgeable beings that who instinctively know that if I wear a skirt too far above my knees, purple stripey tights or a corset beyond the acceptable age that I will befall some terrible fate and therefore must protect me from it?

Who are these people who have cleverly snuck into my thoughts when I look into my wardrobe and urge me to pass over the long gothic coat, cobweb dress and New rocks in favour of jeans and t-shirts?

Obviously common sense lets me distinguish between clothes that are appropriate for walking the dog and those that quite clearly aren’t. The same with what is appropriate for gardening and housework. Although I have in the past been known to both visit the supermarket and do the cleaning in a ball gown, these have not been regular occurrences.It makes perfect sense that we let our intended activity have a bearing on how we dress, it makes so much sense in fact that we could be easily forgiven for thinking this should be the only deciding factor.

Apparently though, there are so many more considerations, according to popular media, women’s magazines and style ‘experts’. Their advice bombards us from every angle. Not just articles on what we should be wearing once we hit our 40’s and beyond but what to avoid if we are slim, curvy, short, tall or pregnant. Even if we think we don’t buy into this kind of rubbish, it’s hard to filter it out completely and not let it become part of our thinking, subconscious or otherwise.  And then for every one of us that believes what we are told, the ‘rules’ become further cemented into our culture.

So we can blame the media right?  Yes and no. Obviously we are fed these ideas but it’s ultimately up to us whether we eat them or not. We are the ones that choose to reinforce these notions with our attitudes and words. Whilst we ourselves tend to be a little more subtle than many popular newspapers and magazines, who regularly bring to our attention high achieving, intelligent,  charismatic  and talented women who obviously didn’t understand that if they wore the wrong dress to receive an award, put on a few pounds, or ‘aged badly’, their skills would then count for next to nothing, we still help perpetuate this way of thinking.  Every time we whisper to a friend ‘Did you see what she was wearing’ or suggest that someone should cover up, make more effort, dress ‘for their size’, not have piercings, wear less/more make up or any of the other hundred of judgemental, potentially damaging comments that are frequently made, we give a little more strength to a pattern of thinking that we need to break away from.

I know it’s not easy to retrain your thoughts, especially those that are deeply embedded, but it’s pretty easy to retrain your mouth and after a while you will find that not only does your thinking change but that your desire to join in with derogatory comments about a friend, passer-by or celebrity will become a desire to pull them up about it.  Refuse to be a part of it.  Don’t buy the magazines and newspapers that tell us our worth is in how we look. That pretty things are only for the under 30’s, that tall people shouldn’t wear heels and that ladies without curves are not ‘real women’. And don’t, whatever you do, laugh at the 48 year old, out walking the dog in purple stripey tights and New rocks. It’s getting kinda boring 🙂

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