Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.
“On Wednesdays, we wear pink” is a line from one of my favorite movies of all time, “Mean Girls.” (The original film, not the musical, although they may say the line in the musical as well, I haven’t seen it yet. I’mma fix that real soon, though.)
Because I love “Mean Girls” so much, I buy every graphic T-shirt I can find that has catchphrases from the film. In addition to the aforementioned line, I have ones that say “I’m a mouse. Duh,” “She doesn’t even go here,” and “That’s so fetch!” I have the feeling I’m forgetting some, but you get my point. I have a lot of “Mean Girls” graphic T-shirts.
My collection of “Mean Girls” shirts is as large as my collection of “Daria” T-shirts.
Me and graphic T-shirts go together. I’ve lost count of how many I have, but I’d say at least 100. I have so many that it would take me months to wear every single one I have.
If I don’t have anything else going on, my standard casual outfit is a graphic T-shirt whatever bottoms I put on that day (shorts, jeans, sweats, or leggings — which are in fact pants), and a pair of Chucks. My Chucks collection is large and full of different colors.
I’m telling you all of this because as a proud member of Generation X when I became an adult and could spend my own money on my own clothes without anyone telling me what I could and could not wear, I decided to wear whatever the heck I wanted, and my clothing choices became an expression of my daily mood.
Adulting is already the most overrated scam ever in life, so being able to wear what I want is one of the things I take great pleasure in. I mean, who gon’ check me, boo?
There was a social media post circulating in which an older woman posted a photo of herself wearing a form-fitting, sleeveless sheath dress. She looked to be at least 70 (although with white people, it’s hard to tell. Maybe she was 32.), and the dress looked good on her.
So imagine my surprise when I saw the reason the post was making the rounds is because people were dismayed by the comments she received on her photo.
A large group of haters had descended on her comment section so they could tell her they didn’t like the dress, it was inappropriate for her, and maybe she should just try to “dress your age.”
What the hell is dressing your age?
In a December “Ask Vanessa” column in the New York Times, a reader sent the following letter:
I have always dressed fashionably. I still want to, but, as I get older, I don’t want to look silly in an outfit for a 20-year-old. For example: Right now I’m wondering about pants. Everything seems to be really, really wide and ballooning. I like them, but they aren’t the most flattering. What about hemlines? Should they be long or short? Are there rules to dressing as you age? — Liz, Akron, Ohio
Vanessa answered that dressing your age means dressing in the manner you wish to be perceived.
But how you dress is a statement about who you are and how you want to be perceived. And that changes as we grow up — even more, sometimes, than our bodies or dress sizes (though those, of course, change, too).
Vanessa went on to say that her personal choice was to dress in a way that says goodbye to the clothing she associates with her youth.
Wearing clothes from an earlier period, even if fashion has decided it’s time for a new generation to discover them, tends to have the same effect. (That actually may be a rule worth considering: If you wore it the first time it was a trend, you may want to avoid it the second time.)
I disagree with Vanessa wholeheartedly.
Are there instances where I may need to be more put together than others? Absolutely, and trust me when I tell you I have curated a wardrobe that allows me to fit into any situation should there be a need. I have office attire, cocktail dresses, evening wear and everything in between.
There’s something to be said for being appropriately dressed for the environment and the occasion but beyond that? Who cares?
Ageism comes in many forms, and it’s an ugly thing to allow it to have a say over wearing what truly makes you happy.
Just because I am on the other side of 40 doesn’t mean I have to dress matronly.
Age appropriateness is something we teach children and teens because we don’t want them wearing things that are generally meant for someone older than them, but that is where that type of fashion policing should stop.
As long as I have the money to afford it, you gonna get these graphic T-shirts and Chucks any time I decide I want to put them on.
Age is a fake out, and respectability politics ain’t never helped nobody do nothing, so do you, boo.
Wear what you want.
With so much turmoil going on in the world, we have more important things to worry about than if a 70-year-old woman is feeling herself in a sheath dress.
Monique Judge is a storyteller, content creator and writer living in Los Angeles. She is a word nerd who is a fan of the Oxford comma, spends way too much time on Twitter, and has more graphic t-shirts than you. Follow her on Twitter @thejournalista or check her out at moniquejudge.com.
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