I wrote this essay to mimic an essay written by Barbara Holland entitled “Naps”, derived from a book called Endangered Pleasures.
The Simple Act of Wearing a Pretty Dress
I believe I have had my entire life planned and figured out the second day of first grade: books, cats, and boys. The only difference is, at that time, my life-plan included the daily mandate for blissful, soft, flowy dress. My youthful innocence led me to every flowery dress in the state, according to my mother. I delighted in the way the hem would fall to my knees and brush my ankles when I sat. I could express the most simplest of joys just by twirling, and feel like the princesses I watched in movies whenever I desired. What more could I need but my confidence and my glee?
I’m afraid I must admit to my eventual conversion to denim. Sometime between first grade and now, my sense of adventure was beaten into submission by the harsh reality of growing up female. Wearing dresses meant no criss-cross-applesauce during storytime, and no cartwheels with my friends at recess. Eventually, wearing dresses meant getting mocked for seeking attention from boys or thinking higher of myself than expected. Now, a combination of these excuses, as well as several others, constantly deny me the luxury of feeling pretty in a nice dress.
The powerful woman, by today’s standard, must exceed men in every department: intelligence, passion, work-ethic, and professionalism. Unfairly matched by the patriarchal history behind the working career, many successful women have attested to the fact that in order to establish our equality, we must adopt a standard of dress that adheres to an abstract idea of “professionalism.” Pencil skirts, blazers, and elbow pads are necessary to be treated intelligently. I would like to call blasphemy on this socially constructed idea of professionalism, and propose that what better than a powerful woman, one who can match and even overcome men in battles of wit, intellect, fervor, and enterprise, than one who can also twirl when happy and bat her eyelashes when she deems necessary. The powerful woman is one who can not only rise to her status through perseverance and ardor while triumphing over the testosterone-fueled male figure, but to wear bouncy, aesthetic dresses while doing so.
To wear a flowy dress is to indulge in the femininity of one’s sex; to reject the uptight, top-knotted grouch-woman that can only wear khakis; to celebrate relaxation, bringing the feel of a pleasant, summer afternoon into every building entered; and to turn even the most monotonous day into a captivating adventure of elegance, simplicity, and serenity. To indulge in one’s own appearance is not only natural and satisfying, but a right that I feel I have been denied by the fallacy of being “too confident,” or even, as some people have dared utter, “too feminine.” I demand we take back the pleasure of our femininity. Women are and will continue to prevail in aptitude and prominence, and I propose‒and beg‒that we allow them to do so while twirling, celebrating, and savoring the pleasure of wearing a pretty dress