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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social media

You can go now…

We had a pretty dull long weekend. Bill had Friday off because of the Fourth of July, but we didn’t end up doing anything special, despite Bill’s best efforts to get me out of the house. However, I did have a good guitar day yesterday, which I wrote about on my travel blog. My travel blog, by the way, is going to wake up again soon, because I have booked a short trip that starts in eleven days. We will spend three nights in the Eifel region of the Mosel Valley, which is about a two hour drive from where we live. There’s a lot of stuff to do outdoors, so I think we’ll be busy, especially if the weather is good. Bill has been a good sport about my stubborn refusal to venture out, although I think he’s feeling kind of tense.

I’ve mostly been trying to stay out of trouble on social media, although I’m still thinking that it may be time to move on from it. Last night, Red Peters, a hilarious comedian who writes and sings funny songs and promotes the songs done by other people, got really pissed off by one of Facebook’s recent censorship policies. He says he’s going to get off of Facebook by September 1st. I can’t blame him, as I was also recently wrist slapped by Facebook over something really stupid. Maybe I’ll follow suit… or maybe not. But one thing is for certain. Facebook may be a way to keep in touch with friends and family, but it’s also the source of a whole lot of annoyances.

Take, for instance, a recent trend I’ve noticed. Sometimes my “friends” send me private messages. The messages are almost never about anything important. They’re often videos or memes that, for whatever reason, they don’t want to post on their own page, and sometimes they send them without comment. Or they put them on their page, but they also send them via PM to their friends. Personally, I don’t like this practice. I understand that some people do it because it’s something obnoxious or controversial and they only want to share it with people who will appreciate it and not start a shit storm. I get that, and I do have a couple of friends who are very civilized, but have a good sense of humor and they know I’ll think something’s funny and even share it for them.

But– I also sometimes get these PMs from people I don’t know that well and/or engage with often. Sometimes, they’re the annoying “pass it on” posts– you know, like the ones that tell you to post what color your bra is (I rarely wear them anymore unless I’m going out). It’s supposed to be for breast cancer awareness, but it’s really just a stupid timewaster that doesn’t really do anything more than irritate people. Below is an excerpt about the bra campaign from a book entitled Online Activism: Social Change Through Social Media:

Yes, I got these messages. No, I did not participate.

Sometimes they’re just memes or videos sent without comment. If the sender is someone I know well and/or have engaged with more than a couple of times, I may have an inkling as to why they sent the message. Maybe I’ll even care enough to ask them. I still think it’s an irritating practice to PM these things, mainly because I think private messages should be reserved for items that really should be kept private and are actually important. Memes and videos don’t generally fall into those categories. Still, I’m more willing to cut more slack to people I know than people I don’t.

Last night, someone sent me this meme without comment:

How should I take this?

The person who sent this is a nurse. We “met” on a site for second wives and stepmothers, and there was a time when we interacted frequently. She lives far away from me, even when I’m stateside, so we have never met offline. Lately, we haven’t been chatting much at all. So last night, when I got a PM from her out of the blue, and it turned out to be the above image, I wasn’t sure how to take it. I’ve repeatedly stated that I’m not on the mask bandwagon. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t comply with the rules, nor does it mean that I don’t take the pandemic seriously. I SIMPLY STAY AT HOME. While I go many days between mask wearings, I also don’t go to places where I encounter people who could be adversely affected by my germs. On the rare occasions when I do go out, I follow the rules. I just don’t like or agree with them. Fair enough?

Lots of people disagree with me about the masks, and that’s fine. I figure that if I’m mostly staying at home, I’m probably doing more than they are to flatten the curve, anyway. The world doesn’t need me to preach about face masks. Plenty of people are already doing that repeatedly and annoyingly. I don’t need to add my voice to the cacophony. I don’t need to cheerlead about the masks, even if they do help slow the spread of the virus. They still suck. Nothing about wearing a mask is fun, and most people have the right and ability to make up their own minds about them. They don’t need my help any more than I need theirs.

Because there was no comment with my friend’s “meme”, and I have no idea if this person has been paying attention to my social media, I wondered if she thought I would like the meme, or if it was a dig. I suppose I could have responded to her. Maybe that would have been the right thing to do. Ultimately, I decided that the face mask meme wasn’t something I care that much about, so I didn’t comment. But since this is a common practice– for people to send unimportant stuff via PM without comment– I decided to ask my Facebook friends why people do it. I don’t PM people unless I have something important to tell them privately, but people PM me all the time. I try to be tolerant, but I must admit I get annoyed, and I just wanted to understand the rationale behind the PM blitzing. Some of my “regular” friends were having a nice discussion with me, with a few people agreeing with me that this is an annoying practice.

And then, I got a message from someone else I “met” on the same site for second wives and stepmothers. This person, who is now no longer a friend, probably interacted with me more often than the person who sent the meme, but we still didn’t talk much. When we did regularly used to communicate some years ago, we often disagreed.

For instance, she didn’t like that I was vocal about my disdain for Mormonism. She said it was “disrespectful”, although she isn’t herself LDS. I disagreed, since the LDS church was successfully used as a weapon against Bill’s relationship with his children, and that’s a problem that affects many people. She felt that I shouldn’t say out loud that I don’t like Mormonism, out of respect to a Mormon woman who was also in our group. The Mormon woman, by the way, was more than capable of sticking up for herself and her religion, and she did so vehemently and consistently. Besides, I felt that the purpose of the group was to discuss these issues and how they affect “steplife”. Like it or not, a highly controlling lifestyle religion like Mormonism does affect things, particularly when not everyone involved is LDS. But this now former friend felt I was out of line to bring it up, or she felt the way I brought it up was unkind. She had no trouble telling me so, even though it didn’t really change my opinion or behavior. She didn’t seem too interested in seeing my perspective, either.

Anyway, beyond that squabbling, which we hadn’t been doing in recent years, we rarely had much to say to each other, especially currently. Neither of us has a lot of steplife drama anymore. But she still felt the need to add her two cents to last night’s discussion.

She posted: Man, I never wanted to PM unexplained memes so badly in my life….

Again…. not really sure how to take this. So I posted that I would like to turn off the PM function entirely, or make it for certain people, which she responded with a “laughing” reaction. At that point, I assumed that she was making a passive aggressive dig and trying to stir up shit. I figured that if she has something to say to me, but can’t be bothered to just say it, we probably aren’t really friends. Since I didn’t know how to take her comments, we were never close, and I don’t remember ever being particularly close to her even when we did used to frequently communicate, I decided to delete her.

I felt badly about it for a minute, because I grew up at a time when friends were people you knew face to face, and “unfriending” someone was a serious thing. But back then, being friends with someone was also a more serious thing; that’s why we mostly tended to have fewer of them then than we do now, in the age of social media.

As I recently wrote in a post, I’m getting to a point in my life at which I value quality over quantity. A lot of people don’t like me. Many people decide they don’t like me having never taken the time to get to know me. That’s up to them, of course, and I’ve gotten used to it. I still have some great people in my life who do love me for who I am and don’t mind that I speak my mind. We treat each other with basic respect and give each other the right to be heard. We don’t try to stir up drama on each other’s social media accounts or offline. And when we have something to say, we say it. We don’t do immature passive aggressive digs or make fun of each other. Those aren’t things a real friend does.

I’ve spent most of my life being discounted, belittled, berated, ignored and crapped on by people who don’t have any respect for me, some of whom were supposedly “loved ones”. Right now, things are stressful enough as it is. I figure at this point in my life, I don’t have to tolerate it anymore, especially from people I barely know. And, like I said, I’m getting pretty tired of Facebook, anyway. Maybe after we get our next dog, I’ll ditch it once and for all. Dogs are better and more genuine friends than most people are, anyway.

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