Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Fashionable, But Not Frivolous

In the local paper's "Dear Abby," a woman wrote in fretting that her tomboy daughter would be unwanted by men. "Abby" reassured her that not all men are interested in stylish but useless women.
She didn't exactly say "useless." She said that such women would be unwilling to get their hands dirty.


While she may have just said that to calm down a frantic mother, I was still insulted, on my behalf and that of my fellow "frumanistas." 

Every year I assemble the succah, emerging grimy from the bug-ridden garage, my nails cracked, various parts of my anatomy bruised. I refuse the ministrations of a cleaning woman, preferring to scrub my bathroom myself; I have no desire to hire one even when I establish my own household. I am the go-to assembler, knocking office furniture together with a minimum of cursing. I know the difference between Phillips and flat-head, and have used them accordingly. Due to my active aunt-ness, I have cleaned up frightening messes and disposed of particularly nasty diapers and bathed plenty of splashing children and fed cholent-throwing toddlers . . . you get the picture.
Meaning, I can look like this, too.
It's not like I feel put-upon by this. Each exercise in sweat and dirt leaves me feeling accomplished.

When I was a kid, all I wanted to be was a tomboy. I wished I could climb trees (I'm too chicken), I hungered to be good at sports (my hand-eye coordination is laughable), I craved to cartwheel (I fall like a ton of bricks).

It was not happening. 

For years I was in limbo, gazing longingly at my hoop-shooting classmates who, I failed to notice, also enjoyed fashion. I believed that if I dressed like a tomboy, somehow I would be close enough to the real thing. I then realized (later than most) that I liked makeup, adored clothing shopping, and coveted chic boots. I have a long-held respect for the tomboy, while incapable of being a true member of the club.

There is a family of women whom I admire greatly. They dress attractively funky, their voices are breathlessly girly, they teeter upon the highest of heels, their bright makeup is always perfectly applied.

 Yet these women do difficult chesed like you wouldn't believe. They did my grandmother's tahara, for instance, to name one.

A person has the choice to be as interested in fashion, to whatever extent. But please refrain from categorizing those who are fashionistas as nothing more as idle window dressing. 

We like fashion, yes. But plenty of us can also wield a mop.


Primum Non Nocere said...

Well said!

Nechama said...

That was really cute. I like your style!

HappyMOMand SLP said...

Love it and agreee!