Last night, I didn’t want to go out.
I was tired, I’ve been fighting a cold for the past two weeks (yesterday marks the momentous anniversary) with only frustratingly slow results, and I needed my selfishly-guarded personal time to get my work done. However, the boyfriend and I had promised to go to his sister-in-law’s play sometime this week, and last night seemed like the most convenient time, as the weekend is promising to be busy. So I grudgingly sucked it up and got ready. I didn’t know what sort of play this would be, and was armed only with the general knowledge that people tend to “dress nicely” for such outings. Hence, I donned my rarely-worn denim bustier dress for the occasion, with leggings and a black cardigan. It resembles something like this, except you know, I’m not tall, hot and leggy (and probably have about 2 cup sizes on this girl).
Still, by some miracle, it looks pretty decent on me, and it’s the one “boobier” pieces of clothing I allow myself to wear sometimes because it manages to look hipster AND classy at once. And I say “boobier” not because the item is INTENDED to be busty per say… it’s just that 36Ds have a tendency to make even the baggiest of hoodies look positively pornographic, despite my best efforts. This explains my usual reticence to ever wear “pretty things”, dresses or even loose shirts, unless I’m 100% convinced they won’t either make me look like a pair of buoys in a storm, OR some roaming cetacean in the Atlantic. (I also NEVER run to a bus stop). And by gum, it DOES take convincing. Even this piece I’m never sure about, because while it’s a far cry from a typical girl’s Halloween costume, (ie: I can wear it at work) it DOES nevertheless cause minute crackage, if you’re into visuals. However, a trusted girlfriend convinced me to buy it, a trusted pair of sisters assured me I looked good (and they are the painfully honest type) in it, and so, I wear it to fancier-yet-casual events, along with leggings and a cardigan, which I did last night. The point being: I am INCREDIBLY self-conscious about my boobs, and need a goddamned selection committee to advise me on things that won’t accidentally make me look like a 10 cent ride. Anyway, I figured if I HAD to go out on a weeknight, I would have fun with it and feel pretty. So I wore the thing, and I did.
… But of course, as is the nature of life, some jackass made it his business to ruin my hard-earned confidence, if only for a few moments.
My boyfriend, his cousin and I were making an illicit McDonald’s stop post-play (they are incurable junk-foodies) and I was still raving about how much I’d enjoyed the play. It was exciting and poignant, and I was quite pleasantly surprised with how rewarding our Thursday evening jaunt had turned out. Still, as my nose-faucets dictated, I soon went about finding a bathroom to blow my nose in all the post-show excitement. On my way, some guy in his early twenties whom hadn’t even registered on my radar at all in my snotty rush for the bathrooms, mentioned “Oh yes. You’ve got some nice tits”. I stopped in my tracks and looked back at him incredulously, as though trying to confirm with him what he had just said. He responded by licking his lips while I stalled completely, in bewilderment. It took me standing there for a few seconds trying to process it before I realized that, no, this was not ok with me.
I followed him, and in front of everyone in the restaurant waiting before the cash, I cried out: “HEY, what did you say to me? That’s not how you speak to women!!” Ok yeah, anti-climactic, but it was the only thing I could think to say. And it worked. Evasive maneuvers Batman! Jerkboy beelined for the exit, but he’d have to cross the lineups first, and I wasn’t done. “Why are you in such a hurry now, all of a sudden? Huh?! You didn’t seem so rushed just a second ago, what’s wrong?! Just gonna run away right? Right?” At this point, my boyfriend and his cousin, after what I’m sure was a moment of wondering about my sanity as I yelled across the McDonald’s like yet another drunk patron, had realized something was wrong and came towards me with their haunches raised. It was too late though, the guy had left.
And really, I had taken care of it. That’s what I told them, and I didn’t want them involved. I had just been victimized, and felt really aggressively against them pulling the “knight in shining armor routine” for some reason… kind of like them coming to my aid would only legitimize the guy’s assumption that I was a helpless, stupid chick. I knew that part of it was irrational, and that if my boyfriend and his cousin wanted to help, it’s because they care about me. But still.
If I’m sharing this story, it’s not really because this is unusual. In fact, if you check out everyday sexism, it’s enough to turn your stomach, how often this sort of things happens, and how women are expected to just deal with this. If I’m sharing this inane little story about some asshole with a comment, it’s because no matter how little the incident; it leaves a huge impact.
Even though I dealt with this troglodyte in a manner I’m proud of… do you know what the first thing I thought was?
“Oh no, I knew I shouldn’t have worn this.”
..THAT was my first reaction. From ME. The VICTIM.
That moment of bewilderment? It was me, trying to absorb and process the devastating amounts of shame I was bowled over with, at his mere words. And it’s completely insane, how some immature asshole I shouldn’t care about made me feel that way in less than a second, like I was less than a person. Me, a generally self-actualized, mature, smart and decently confident woman… he destroyed me in one sentence, for that one second.
And honestly, that’s the part that sucks about it all.
It’s not him, it’s not the comment. It’s how much power those words had over me.
And honestly, even though I know it’s not the right reaction, and even though the incident isn’t going to change my life, I’m not sure I ever will wear that stupid thing again.