Colorado has longer winters than I'm used to. The cold, snow covered season prompts me to cocoon myself in more ways than one. Physically, Mentally. This natural withdrawal doesn't cause me much concern because I know it's just part of a cycle. I tend to dress my kids in the same cozy clothes week after week as we wait for the outside temps to rise. As we've edged into April, the kids and I begin to hesitantly emerge and shed unnecessary layers, which is a surefire way to bring on....more snow.
So I found myself yesterday hurrying to get Aubrey and Sawyer dressed and out the door when Aubrey (age 21 months) lurched into her open dresser drawer and grabbed one of her only dresses. Pink with rabbits. Despite the snow and the obvious pall of an extended winter covering everything outside, I put the dress on her (with leggings.) And she looked pretty. She traipsed into the living room where Sawyer (age 4) was sitting on the couch waiting and he looked at her and smiled and said, "Aubrey looks pretty." She just kept pointing to herself and saying "Dess." An air of reverence fell over the messy room.What was happening here? It's just a dress, right?
I don't know, is it? I've been drawing women's faces, bodies, and clothing since I could hold a pencil. Among humans, what is more visually commanding than the female form in all of her finery? Why does slipping on a dress instantly transport you (for better or worse) to an entirely different mental plane? If all women are goddesses, the fashion industry is standing in worshipful attention. At least, it was.
Somewhere (rather recently) along the line, ethical responsibility, fair labor wages, protected creative intellectual property, the use of natural materials, and the necessary time to produce a quality garment have all fallen by the wayside in global apparel production. Women deserve better; Workers deserve more; the planet deserves protection; and true fashion designers deserve support and preservation.
I don't know why my children became hushed when Aubrey got dressed up. Maybe I should try it more often. I, myself, can count on one hand the number of dresses in my closet. We choose our own self-concepts, play our experience-taught roles, and dress ourselves accordingly. In this manner, we create our own aura. While the parameters of what makes a "woman" are becoming excitingly blurred and more challenging to define, I am proud to call myself one, pirouetting in my metaphorical dress and causing ripples.