just a girl in a skirt

True fact: my wardrobe is 60% skirts. Partly because I like to sew and skirts are easy (and variable) to make, but also because they just make me comfortable. Skirts make me feel so much better about myself, more secure somehow, that some years ago I just decided to wear them all the time. It makes my work outfits a little more formal, which I prefer, since it makes me seem older and more competent. It makes me *feel* pretty, which never hurts, and I get a lot of compliments on my outfits.

Lately, though, I’ve been rethinking. I’m applying for a degree program in plant and soil science, which, although it makes me very happy (dirt! mud! plants! biology!) isn’t the kind of work that one can easily do in a dress. Or, at least, it’s expected that you won’t.

But why is that? As one girl in my program pointed out last week, it’s only been thirty or forty years since it was totally acceptable for a woman to wear pants, and then only conditionally. For many, many years, women did everything–indoor work, outdoor work, farming, you name it–in a dress and sometimes heels. You wouldn’t think it’d be so weird–as my friend Action Girl once said, “I’m just a girl in a skirt, that’s normal, right?” But I am dead sure that if I show up to lab in heels, SOMEONE will ask me what the special occasion is.

Certainly, I’m not suggesting that I would love to return to the way things were forty years ago. I’m proud of the work my mother and her friends and all of the other women before us did to bring us the right to wear pants and have (some of) the privileges to go along with them. And there’s a lot more left to be done. I just hope that when it’s done, I’ll be able to wear whatever the hell I want and nobody will notice one way or another.

In the meantime, I’ll have to come to terms with the fact that wearing jeans makes me uncomfortable, and somehow do it anyways.

4 Responses to just a girl in a skirt

  1. alternately, you could come to terms with the fact that going to lab in heels will get you asked what the special occasion is, and somehow do that anyway. ;)

    it is odd how people thing skirts are totally impractical (but jeans aren’t when summer rolls around?)

  2. dylan says:

    i wear button down shirts with a tie to class sometimes and people ask me what the occasion is. maybe wearing a skirt to lab would be subversive in the same way. you should do it anyway. maybe not heels and the whole nine yards… but a skirt that’s earthy, with some sandels or something… i think if that’s what makes you feel best, you should go for it! Lord knows I need all the confidence I can get when doing science, and if skirts give you that… screw normativity.

  3. backlist says:

    maybe they’ll like your skirts. or you could go with a skirty pants thing :)

  4. actiongirl says:

    Well, what ladybrettashley said. I think that we should be able to wear what we’re comfortable in (well, within reason–there are some professional standards). That means that women should be allowed to wear pants whenever they’d like, but it also means the same for you and skirts.

    Am all a-flutter at being quoted in your blog. (This is an oddly timely post, as I’ve been working on “skirt issues” related art this week.)

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