skirts and skins
Women, but not men, are hemmed in by their clothing. If women could move in any direction at any time they wouldn’t be sexy anymore because sexiness in women seems to be based on constriction and confinement. Corsets, push-up bras, sheath dresses, skintight skirts or jeans, high heels.
Men’s clothing is cut for movement.
Except that you have a full range of movement in skirts, but not pants. Yet in our culture, with rare exceptions, men don’t wear skirts.
Earlier today, I was ambling around outside, my long skirts swirling in the breeze. And I got to thinking. Pants restrict movement somewhat (less desirable), but they also provide a barrier between the wearer and the wearer’s physical environment. Not much air can circulate; it’s harder for insects to find your skin if they want to bite or sting you. Pants are armor.
Skirts, though, provide almost an extra layer of skin, but one that moves freely, giving the wearer even more information about their environment. Skirts are hair.
Skirts converse with the environment. Skirts create liminal spaces.
Twirling or billowing skirts create performance. Wearing one such, I want to dance. More, all my movements feel like they are dance. The skirt inspires me to be bolder, more graceful, more expressive.
I feel more myself in a skirt.
For several years now, a thought keeps recurring that I should stop wearing pants altogether, and only wear skirts. I’ve resisted that thought; it seemed impractical and vaguely ridiculous.
But now I think there’s more to it.
There isn’t much you can do to pants that makes them more interesting, or more functional. They can certainly be more decorative. But to make them look really good, they pretty much have to be constructed conventionally. Otherwise they just look like the maker didn’t know what they were doing.
But a skirt can look like almost anything, and still be functional, expressive, and socially acceptable. It doesn’t have to be tailored at all. It doesn’t have to be symmetrical. Skirts can be layered.
And philosophically (or do I mean metaphysically? metaphorically?), skirts navigate and negotiate boundaries.
Because even though I need my boundaries to be less permeable (at least sometimes), the nonhuman environment is not what I’m trying to keep at bay. In fact, the more time I spend immersed in the nonhuman environment, the better I feel. So physical armor won’t help me learn to set limits with human beings; taking up more space, though, since skirts move away from the body, may help me learn to see myself differently, and thereby, act differently.
The more I wear skirts, the more I will experience my bodymind more fully than I do now. Which must give me fuller sense of what and who I am now.
Men seem to want armor more; maybe they feel they have more to defend. I’ve never been a man, but I no longer feel entirely comfortable calling myself a woman either. I want a third option. I like genderqueer, because it doesn’t constrict or confine me. I don’t like androgynous, or anything similar, because to me that seems to imply something more or less midway between men and women. What if I thought of things I wanted to do that a man wouldn’t do, and a woman wouldn’t do either? Why should I be restricted to what’s already allowed?
Men are allowed a bunch of the coolest stuff. Women are second class citizens, at best, but can get caught up in beauty standards and sexiness, thinking that’s an end run around patriarchy. It isn’t. Why can’t I just be a human being, and see where that takes me?
I want to make clothes for human beings to wear. Skirts will definitely be part of that.