fashion, Military

Repost: No curlers in the commissary! Or… true friends tell you the truth…

Here’s a repost of an article I wrote March 28, 2017. I’m sharing it again, because I think it’s an interesting topic, particularly if you have any experience with the United States military or fake friends.

I’m writing again today because I finally remembered a topic I wanted to write about last night.  All of this uproar about leggings, yoga pants, and camel toes made me remember a simpler time back in the day…  I’m talking about dress codes on military installations.

Actually, dress codes in the commissary are supposedly still a “thing”.  When you shop on a military installation, you’re supposed to look presentable.  That means no spandex, no hats indoors, and no curlers in your hair, although I can’t remember the last time I saw anyone wearing curlers in private, let alone at a military grocery store.  I used to wear them sometimes when I was a kid.  I’d sleep in them so I’d have curly hair the next day.  But my days of wearing curlers are long over now.

I never got in trouble for not dressing appropriately at the commissary.  In fact, I don’t think a lot of today’s servicemembers even know that the policy used to be strictly enforced.  I do remember maybe fifteen years ago having brunch at a Coast Guard station with my parents.  Next to the entrance of the dining room, there was a big sign outlining what was and wasn’t acceptable dress.  I distinctly remember seeing the word “curlers” as among the specifically forbidden attire. 

Some time later, when I lived at Fort Belvoir, I remember discussing the dress code with a fellow Army wife.  She scoffed at what she saw as the command’s overreach.  I remember the commander had outlawed spandex with the explanation that some people “didn’t need to be wearing it” in public.  While I agree that wearing spandex is ill advised for some people, what is and what isn’t appropriate can sort of be in the eye of the beholder.  There was a time, however, when women who shopped at the commissary were supposed to wear dresses.  They weren’t allowed to wear house coats, ratty pajama pants, or tank tops.  Men, likewise, were expected to look presentable and respectable.

Nowadays, a lot of people don’t like the idea of being expected to dress to impress.  They will say they dress for comfort and screw anyone who doesn’t like what they put on in the morning… or afternoon, as it were.  Hell, while I usually try to wear makeup if I’m going somewhere, if I’m sitting at home, I usually stay in my nightgown.  I like to be comfortable and rarely see anyone except the random people who ring my doorbell.  And I don’t care if they’re offended by my saggy, braless, boobs and bare face because #1., they were almost never invited to ring my bell and #2., my interaction with them is usually less than a minute.  You want me to look presentable when I answer the door?  Make an appointment.

In the article I linked above, there is a letter quoted by a man from Rhode Island who wanted yoga pants, leggings, and mini-skirts banned for people over age 20.  He wrote:

“Like the mini-skirt, yoga pants can be adorable on children and young women who have the benefit of nature’s blessing of youth. However, on mature, adult women there is something bizarre and disturbing about the appearance they make in public,” wrote Alan Sorrentino.

Well… I don’t know that I’d go so far as to say that leggings, yoga pants, or mini-skirts are bizarre and disturbing on older women.  Some older women can pull them off just fine, just as some younger people look ridiculous in those styles.  Unfortunately, it comes down to self-awareness and honesty with oneself… or, barring that, being able to take truthful, constructive advice from friends and loved ones.  Really.  I think a true friend will tell you kindly, but honestly, if your outfit is in poor taste or doesn’t do a thing for you, as my mom would say. 

My ex best friend was famously rude about some things, but I distinctly remember her telling me she liked a hideous pair of pants I tried on when we were shopping.  I’m 99% certain she was lying to me and secretly relishing the idea that I’d look ridiculous wearing them in public.  She was brutally candid with her opinions when she didn’t need to be, but also a little too complimentary when she shouldn’t have been. 

At the time, I believed this ex bestie when she said the ugly knit pants “pulled my waist in” (bullshit!).  I wanted to believe her, of course.  At the time, I was obsessively worried about my weight and endlessly dieting to the point of stupidity.  I desperately wanted to believe that the smaller size I tried on actually fit and looked good, even if deep down, I probably knew the truth.  Yet she smiled at me and said I looked fine even as I continually pulled the pants out of my ass crack and squirmed as the inseams pulled irregularly at my thighs. 

I know she was loving the thought of me sporting a camel toe or a wedgie while engaged in the business of the day.  A true friend would have said something to prevent that from happening.  Yes, it would have stung if she had said I should get something else, but it would have been the right thing to do.  That would have been the action of a real friend. 

Years later, when my ex friend insulted my husband (saying he looked too old for me) while we were engaged, and then flirted outrageously with him at my wedding rehearsal (yes, the day before our wedding), I came to the very painful and obvious conclusion that she was never a true friend.  A true friend is not full of shit and won’t want to see you publicly humiliated or embarrassed.  A true friend isn’t abusive, cruel, or overly endowed with Schadenfreude.  A true friend has the other person’s best interests at heart, even if it means a few minutes of awkwardness or embarrassment.  I would rather be humiliated for a couple of minutes in front of my friend who loves and appreciates me than embarrassed forever in front of other people who don’t.

Anyway… I probably still look ridiculous most of the time.  I care less now than I did twenty years ago.  But at least I have given up spandex and curlers.

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musings

Skinny jeans and scarves…

I read a funny story this morning on one of my favorite forums for English speakers in Germany. Back in 2015, someone posted about being confronted by an aggressive driver. The person was in the left lane, next to a bus, and another driver cut her off. She made a hand gesture at the aggressive driver– maybe not the middle finger per se, but perhaps a WTF gesture– and the aggressive driver then came up beside her and pointed to his phone, indicating that he was going to report her to the police for “insulting” him.

As I have written before, it’s against German law to insult people, particularly in traffic or when they are public officials. If you “shoot the bird” at someone, you can be hit with a heavy fine, particularly if there are witnesses or someone has a photo. Since everyone carries a camera these days on their cell phones, it’s probably pretty risky to let your fingers do the talking.

The thread died in 2015, but someone recently revived it with a story about being honked at in traffic and responding with the rude finger gesture. The person wanted to know which was worse, the insistent horn honking or the middle finger in response. Because, by the poster’s reasoning, the horn honker started it with the rude honking. My guess is that they’d probably both get in trouble if it was reported; but much to my surprise, an interesting discussion commenced. Here’s how the story went:

We were taking the kids to the dentist appointment. One of the kid was feeling unwell so my fiancee were sit with the kids on the back seat. When the big boy was feeling better my fiancee decided to change seat to the front, bcoz we had to go on a longer journey after and she has licence too so it’s better she sits at the front. So I pulled off to a side road where I stopped and turned on the emergency light until she was changing seat. Than an other car appeared at the back of our car and start to honk repeatedly and long. On the day I met some other drivers were really screw me up with stupid things and I was on the top when this thing happened. He could have just drive pass me but instead he honk unnecessarily. I felt really insulted so I showed my “stinkyfinger” up out the window. Just this week I recieved a letter from the police they want details who drove the car that time. 

Just as an aside… I think it’s funny that the middle finger is called the “Stinkefinger” here. Cuz why does it stink? Eeeeew!

When Bill and I lived in Germany the first time, Facebook was still kind of in its infancy. Consequently, this particular forum was more popular with American military types. Now that we have Facebook and other outlets for communication, that forum has less participation from Americans affiliated with the military. It’s more populated by Europeans who speak English. However, there are still a few folks working for Uncle Sam who hang out there. One of them got involved in this thread, and he has an appalling inability to use punctuation and capitalization. He wrote this:

This is what happens when you have a country of people which are entirely reliant on the government to solve their problems. 

Well… yeah, I guess I can see his point. I think it’s stupid that a person can be fined for flipping someone off or insulting another person. Especially since I don’t think that particular law gets enforced a lot. I mean, Bill and I have seen people use their middle fingers in traffic. Once or twice, it’s even been directed at us. Big fucking deal. Especially since Germans don’t seem to have any issues with dropping the F bomb. I guess cursing is only forbidden if it’s done in German. In any case, the guy above identified himself as an American who works for the military and has been to war a couple of times. He’s made a living out of fighting. My guess is that he votes for conservatives, too.

Then another poster, clearly one who is more in touch with the European mindset, wrote this:

The alternative been people getting out of the car and having a physical fight in order to “solve” the problem.

American guy came back with this:

This is an unpopular opinion im sure in a country full of emasculated men and millennials but what is so wrong with that? Someone drives around aggressively like an ahole and is at fault, risks other peoples safety and property and someone calls him out on it by beeping his horn. ahole gets mad and starts with the driver who called him out on it. Instead of both of them threatening to tell their mommy (the German government) about their petty squabbles; pull over and handle it like two grown men. Animals do it, kids do it, lots of people do it in other countries not full of guys wearing skinny jeans and scarves.

Im not saying it solves the problem but its a solution and I guarantee both people will remember it for years to come. You either dont drive like a dick cause someone will bust your head over it or you learn to mind your own business and not to honk at people because someone will put you in your place. Im not advocating they murder each other but sometimes pain solves problems more than monetary fines. If you make 100k a year, a 200 euro fine is not a learning lesson to anyone but if that guy wakes up sore every morning for a week and has to be embarrassed with his black eye in public that is way more effective than a ticket at changing behavior. 

At this point, I had to stop and laugh. I have seen a lot of German guys wearing skinny jeans and scarves, although they’re usually younger people. Most German men of a certain age are sensible enough to know when a certain fashion is “more for a younger person”. But then someone wrote this:

“…  in a country full of emasculated men and millennials …”

While I don’t disagree with your statement as a whole about people being too whiny about a honked horn or a middle finger waved in the air – this quoted part alone deserves an “ok, Boomer…”

This is more my experience with most German men…. I haven’t seen too many men wearing rhinestones on their skinny jeans.

American military guy writes:

Im only 35 but its hard to ignore the skinny jeans with attached rhinestones and scarves

Hmm… Now, I haven’t seen any men wearing bedazzled jeans with rhinestones. Where is this dude hanging out where he sees something like that? Because I would like to see it for myself! I have seen women with bedazzled jeans, but even that isn’t a common sight for me.

A few more people came along and took the American to task for embracing violence. He left a couple of snarky comments. Actually, I’m sure he’s a nice guy, and I had a good laugh because I could practically hear him in my head. I’ve been around a lot of Americans like that– guys who think a knuckle sandwich and a handshake can solve any problem. It’s a fairly common attitude among people in the military. Like I said– they make their living fighting wars… or planning wars. Anyway, the more peace loving Europeans told the American guy that he shouldn’t be encouraging violence. He wrote this:

Look im not some violent psycho that solves every social issue with his fists and as someone whos been to war a couple times, I totally understand what violence can do; Im just saying that someone people earn a punch in the face and theres zero reason to run to the police and complain that someone gave you the finger and hurt your feelings. People need to be a little more self reliant and handle their issues alone without the governments help. If two people get into a road rage issue, pull over and figure it out like adults. 

Okay… so it’s best to solve road rage by beating the shit out of someone? That seems counterintuitive to me, responding to rage with physical violence. My guess is that I’m seeing a collision of cultural values here. In Europe, violence isn’t necessarily something that is embraced, probably because of how incredibly horrible World Wars I and II were. But in America, we have many cowboys who like to kick ass and embrace their inner animal with a good old fashioned fist fight. A lot of them take jobs in the military sector where it’s allowed to kick ass from time to time.

The woman who confronted the American guy continued to reject his assertion that physical fighting solves anything. American guy continued to protest:

No im saying be a self reliant adult and dont involve the government in every petty life issue. Something that very few people here do. 

I don’t necessarily disagree that people should handle their issues privately. In a perfect world, adults can come together and solve their problems without involving the government or physical violence. Unfortunately, as Bill and I have discovered, some people are just plain unreasonable and uncooperative. And, short of knocking the hell out of them, which most normal people would rather not do, sometimes it’s necessary to go to the government for a remedy. Now, that doesn’t mean I think that people should run to the police every time someone shoots the bird at them or calls them an asshole. That’s ridiculous. However, I don’t think it’s appropriate to get into physical altercations with most people in most situations, tempting as it may be. Resorting to physical violence only means that the biggest, strongest, and toughest always get their way, and that’s not fair. Besides that, it’s just kind of stupid to beat people up over petty disagreements. Mike Brady on The Brady Bunch said it best…

Poor Peter… Buddy Hinton clocked him, and Mike found out that his father is an aggressive asshole, too. Well, if calm, cool reasoning doesn’t work, put up your dukes! Or, at least that was the moral on that particular episode of The Brady Bunch.

Although, if I recall correctly, Peter Brady did end up using his fists against Buddy Hinton, knocking out his teeth. And then they shook hands and became friends. Hmm… maybe that’s where the American military guy got the idea that sometimes might makes right. Or… as Kenny Rogers put it, “Sometimes you gotta fight when you’re a man.” But speaking for myself, I think it’s better to pursue a remedy without physical violence whenever possible. And I sure as hell don’t want to be clocking someone or being clocked on the side of the Autobahn.

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Dress codes, slut shamers

Pulling ’em off…

Yesterday’s post about leggings turned into quite the Facebook debate. My Italian friend says he thinks women wear leggings to turn on men. This was his comment.

It is a pointless discussion. Wearing leggings is part of an evolving mating ritual. If there were no men, there would be no leggings. It is just a strategy to attract the attention of men. In an era of increasing sexual availability and stimulation, clearly strategies must evolve and become more extreme, hence the dismay of an older woman who used older, milder strategies. In parts of the world, the sight of a bare female foot is sexually arousing, while here in Germany a pretty woman sunbathing naked in the park might just go unnoticed. Same with men: if you can afford a red Ferrari, you might say you do it for the love of cars, but you know it is part of a mating ritual. Approaches vary, same old story. The only observation I can make is that perhaps one woman in 1000 looks good in bare leggings. All the others, who believe that revealing more of their mediocre body might increase their mating chances, are sadly deluded. A woman of class, who has more to offer than just attractive anatomy, migh wear leggings, but only under a skirt.

Many of my female friends chimed in that attracting men is not the reason they wear leggings. I was the first to tell my Italian friend that a lot of women wear them because they’re comfortable. Quite a lot of my friends agreed with me that they like leggings because they are easy to wear. So my Italian friend came back with this comment.

But you all miss the point: the article was about young women wearing tight leggings with nothing on top, basically something like a pantyhose, therefore very revealing, not comfy. At that age, EVERYTHING is about the opposite sex, both for boys and girls, as it is understandle due to the hormone levels mother nature burdens us with for reproductive purposes. Or it’s been such a long time you have all forgotten?

More debate ensued after I wrote this.

Leggings are comfortable whether you wear a skimpy top or a long one. They’re stretchy. I will grant that not everyone can pull off wearing leggings and looking good in them, but that kind of thing is in the eye of the beholder. I’ve never seen leggings that are like “pantyhose”, either.

Another friend wrote this.

I disagree about not everyone being able to pull off leggings. If you think you can pull off leggings, you can. Doesn’t matter what size or shape you are. Wear them with gusto!

To which I replied:

Well, that is a matter of opinion. You’re welcome to yours.

Let me reiterate. I basically think people should wear whatever they want. I may not like what a person is wearing. I may not think what they’re wearing is flattering or attractive. But I will absolutely defend their right to dress their bodies in the way they wish. My viewpoint is my own and it’s one of many opinions. I don’t claim to be right or wrong.

Here are a few pictures I found on the Internet that make me think that not everyone can “pull off” wearing leggings. Again, just my opinion.

That looks painful. Image: Pinterest
Actually, those look like tights. Image: Pinterest
An oldie but a goodie. These just blow my mind. Image: Facebook
Bet she does. Image: Pinterest

Just because I don’t think these leggings look so great on the women who are wearing them, that doesn’t mean I don’t think they have the “right” to wear them. I don’t think wearing them in public is wise, but certainly a person should be able to wear what they want to wear “with gusto”, as long as they aren’t at school, church, or work, where there might be a dress code of some sort… or perhaps not.

Some people think dress codes are stupid. But uniforms are a form of identification. Police officers wear uniforms so that citizens can identify them when there’s trouble. Medical personnel are easy to spot by the way they dress in a medical setting. Hell, I wore a dirndl at Busch Gardens because that identified me as an employee. The dirndl added to the ambiance of the fake Germany, where I was working at the time. I have heard that the costumes have been phased out, but people who work at Busch Gardens still wear uniforms so they can be identified as employees.

I also think that dress codes aren’t a bad idea in a school setting, as long as they are equally enforced. It is distracting when a person comes to school wearing a t-shirt with swear words all over it. It is disruptive when someone dresses in a way that is impractical or unsafe. Moreover, school is preparation for the work world. I would hope a person wouldn’t go to a job interview wearing leggings that reveal the message that he or she “gets around”. Maybe you are able to do your job while wearing purple leggings that announce that you “get around”. But it’s not very professional or appropriate to wear that attire at work if you’re dealing with the public. If you want to walk around town with those leggings on, I guess it’s not such a big deal… except you might end up being made fun of on social media. But I can always avert my eyes, right?

Bottom line… wear what you want to on your time. Leggings aren’t always about trying to pick up men. Some people do find them very comfortable. I would hope most people who find them comfortable would select them in the right size and made with fabric that adequately covers the subject. But I suppose even that is in the eye of the beholder… and nobody really cares about my opinions, anyway. Bwahahaha…

In other news: Yesterday, I ordered us a lawnmower. It’s a robot, which means I might not have to mow. I can sit on my ass and watch the mower cut the grass while I drink beer. I tried using a robot vacuum. It was hard to get used to. Hopefully, this will work out alright. I’ll take a video.

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