Fashion, Books, and (Sometimes) Bikes

Outfit Post: 7/23/12

T-shirt: TMBG concert — Skirt: Goodwill (H&M) — Sandals: Goodwill (Target) — Bracelet: Found — Earrings: World Market

Errands-running outfit! I stayed home sick from work on Monday, and when I felt better Mike and I went out for lunch and then I went a-grocery-shoppin’. I don’t wear my collection of band t-shirts much anymore, because, let’s face it, the crewneck-babydoll-cut-tee thing can be kind of hard to fashionably style–but I still love my band tees and can’t part with them yet! Particularly not this one, because TMBG was one of my first loves, and the night we went to see them at the Rio Theater in Santa Cruz was also the first night that Mike and I were like, “yeah, we aren’t just friends.” So there’s that.

Monday was a really hot and sweaty day, and I spent most of it feeling pretty dang grimy. Honestly, though, I’m glad I did, because I actually ended up spending a lot of time thinking about Tia’s post on taking care, as well as this post by dreamrebel, which I read back at the beginning of the month and which I haven’t been able to get out of my head:

about 5 years ago i claimed the identity dirtyqueer for myself as a way to acknowledge my struggle to be in/remember my own body by reclaiming the thing i was most afraid of—being dirty. dirty was the reason i left my body in the first place… because of my queer desires, and my fat body, and my hs.. all the ways that it somehow felt inherently wrong. it has been a while since i’ve thought a lot about dirtyqueer as an identity but coming back to it now makes me feel so incredible. my body, its desires and the way it’s always changing and breaking and fucking up and being dirty.. it is all so relevant to my queerness. i can’t take the dirty from the queer.. and i was always so scared to claim that word and what it meant to me, but now i need it. it keeps me going. i feel the most strength in myself when i sparkle with dirt under my nails, when i’m sweating and in my body, dressing it up so i shine along with greasy skin and hair, feeling every moment in my skin…uncomfortable or not.
i’m from the south and during the summer i was often pushed back into my body drenched in sweat / can’t hardly breathe because of the humidity. i seriously cherish those moments because they were the times when i was forced back into my own body. i definitely used to hate the sweat and the heat because it would often bring out my hs more, but i learned to appreciate all of that and now i just like sitting dirty in myself without wishing to be in someone else’s skin. i love the way my body changes and keeps giving regardless of what i do to it or where it decides to take me. (dreamrebel, emphasis mine)

It’s interesting to think about the concept of “dirty,” especially during this summer heat when that feeling of being dirty comes on more quickly than it does in the winter. If you’ve ever watched American TV commercials for ten minutes, you can tell that we have a complex relationship with cleanliness and dirtiness, and that there are all sorts of connotations that come with one or the other. Clean equals sanitary, safe, comfortable, acceptable, good. Dirty equals diseased, dangerous, scary, immoral, the unknown. While I’m certainly in favor of cleanliness insofar as it’s helped us combat illnesses like cholera and makes our water safe to drink, it’s when the concept of “dirty” is used to oppress minority groups and “the other” that it becomes a problem.

You know what I mean, and it’s what the writer talks about when she talks about “dirty” being attributed to her fatness and queerness; it’s something that humans have always used to oppress other humans and to shame the unorthodox. Body hair on women? Dirty! Menstruation? Dirty! Women enjoying sex? Dirty and slutty! Queer folks? Dirty and immoral! Foreigners? Dirty, and their weird food and clothes are probably dirty too! We’ve all heard it before, some of us more than others. Different equals dirty equals shameful, and it’s no wonder that the writer disassociated from her body, this thing that people kept telling her was so wrong and dirty.

Unlike the author of that post, I don’t think I’ve ever been disassociated from my body due to shame, but I realized recently that I don’t really inhabit my body a lot of the time, either. I’ve always been more of a mental person than a physical person–which is a false dichotomy, but shows how I tend to separate my mind (“me”) from my body, which “I” just sort of pilot. I spent a lot of time in my head without paying attention to the things my body is doing, or what it’s telling me. I’m only pulled back into my body when it needs something (food, sleep, to go to the bathroom), or when I’m feeling uncomfortable (sweaty, hot, cold, nauseated) or in pain, and then my usual reaction is to feel irritated that it can’t just take care of itself.

There are definitely times when it’s a positive influence that brings me into my body, like muscles working while I’m riding my bike, but even then I think less about those moments than I do the uncomfortable ones. I’ve only thought about this in the last few months, and I’m now trying to pay more attention to both the good and the bad moments, and think about what my body is telling me so that I can better inhabit it instead of feeling like my body and my brain work counter to each other’s needs (which are, really, the same needs. Brain, meet body; body, meet brain).

It’s a slow job to break away from my previous way of being, but I am working to care for my body and to not get mad at it for signals of discomfort, but to pay attention to what those signals mean–and also to sit dirty with myself sometimes, and let that be okay.

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