Staci Drangmeister, age 29

Albuquerque, New Mexico

“I Wear What I Want”

People have been making comments about what I wear for as long as I can remember. They’ve said I need to dress more normal. More modest. Sexier. I should care more about what I wear. I shouldn’t care so much about my appearance. Are men subjected to the same comments as women about their appearance and clothing? I don’t think so. Have most women had someone comment inappropriately about what they’re wearing or how they look? I’d bet they have.

We had uniforms when I was in middle school. Like many adolescents finding themselves in the world, I liked to use clothing as a way to express myself. I wore ties and suspenders and crazy stockings, which were all allowed per the dress code, but not “normal.”My 7th grade science teacher did not like my wardrobe and made it a mission to write me up for dress code violations as often as possible. My skirt was too short or my accessories to flashy. She’d raise her eyebrows at me as I walked in the class. The first month or so I had her, she wasn’t warm or encouraging to me in class, all because of the way I looked. I eventually developed a good relationship with her, but it’s sad to think she judged my capabilities as a student because of the silly things I wore as a kid.

In high school, a few of my male “friends” would always chastise me when I wore black. “Black makes your boobs look small.” “You shouldn’t wear black, it covers up your body too much.” Can you imagine what men would do / say if women acted like this and said things like this to them?

I was out at a local bar last year. It was an Earth Day celebration. I wore a slim fit, short dress with citrus fruit on it, as I felt it would be appropriate, and somewhat silly, for Earth Day. I ended up talking to an artist acquaintance for some time. She asked how old I was at some point during the conversation. She said that she “used to dress up more and care about her appearance, but that once she hit her 30s she realized it didn’t matter.” She said that wearing uncomfortable, impractical clothes (alluding to the dress I was wearing) was something I would grow out of. I just laughed off her comment. But why did she say that in the first place? Shouldn’t everyone just wear whatever the hell they want?

These are just a few times people have made comments about my appearance. It’s tiring to have people giving constant and unsolicited feedback about my looks and clothing. And it really doesn’t matter!

I wear what I want, and that shouldn’t give anyone the right to make comments about how I look.