I’ve made a lot of decisions in the past few months, and years, that would have probably shocked my younger self. But, I must admit that the older I get, the more I realize that being a hypocrite is a necessary part of growing up. There have been times in the past when I’ve pulled a total 180 when it comes to my wardrobe, shocking those around me.
I get a real kick out of my mom’s memory, without which I would have an incomplete notion of my own caprices.
According to her, I have, at times, made impassioned declarations of lifelong abstention from certain items. In my teenage years, I was known for my fervent anti-skinny-jeans policy and in high school I made the famous declaration that Birkenstocks were invented to take advantage of the lagging brain functions of people who smelled like patchouli.
And now here I am, over a decade later, and I wear almost exclusively skinny jeans and have a pair of very nice camel-colored leather Birkenstocks wedged among my other footwear in an overloaded closet back in Minnesota.
The point is, I’ve dared to renege on a lot of (my mom assures me) emblazoned causes in my life. However, nothing will surpass the recent scandal of the latest lapse in adherence to my sartorial ethics. You see, the thing is, I bought a pair of caramel brown, completely synthetic, knockoff Uggs, and I wear them almost every day. If you know me at all, then you will certainly understand the gravity of this admission. I’m pretty sure that my mom actually gasped when I mentioned it over our breaky skype connection the other day. And what’s more, I even bought a pair of enormous fake fur, taupe colored earmuffs, so help me god.
These are things that I would never even consider, were I still living comfortably in my insulated, well-heated, cozy apartment in Minneapolis. But, alas, I have willingly reentered a place where it gets so hot in the summer that residents psychotically chose to tough out the freezing winters with little or no heating and walls made exclusively of cement or worse.
In my defense, it’s been cold here. Not Minnesota cold, but cold, nonetheless. The temperature for the last few weeks has been bobbing around freezing, and we’ve had an unusual amount of snow (so I’m told). Let’s just say that my chuck taylors were not cutting it.
In a way I feel like I’m reliving my time in Baton Rouge, where I spent 10 months volunteering in public schools (and completely humiliated myself *), all over again. My current room is on the corner of a huge student housing building, where the ceiling is easily 10 feet high, the floors are cement, and one of our walls is covered in single-pane windows with no screens. Our only source of heat is an air-conditioning unit located on the ceiling above our window-covered wall. None of the buildings here on campus, including all the public areas and classrooms, are heated, except for a possible hot-air blowing air-conditioner.
I am in awe of the resilience of the people here who sit behind a desk or in an open-front store during their 10-12 hour work day without heat. I fear that I would not have the constitution to survive such a challenge.
At the end of the day, it was obvious what I had to do. I say it was obvious because it was the only thing that was apparently an option—buy knockoff Uggs and earmuffs. Oh, and buy a slightly questionable but oh-so-warm electric “water” bottle that has a name, arms, and legs. Remember the phrase When in Rome? Well, it was like that, except that Rome was the communist/socialist/capitalist/democratic Republic of China and everyone was nearly freezing to death (or so I dramatically felt) and the only way to stay warm was to make concessions to my own appearance.
And this isn’t the first time that I’ve had dress counter-sartorially. I’ve had to wear much more humiliating things for past jobs, including Timberland boots and menswear, although I think I’ll save that topic for a future post. I guess dressing appropriately for weather or work, no matter how idiotic you look, is just the grownup thing to do.
How about you, is there something that you refused to wear, and then adopted later in life?
*In the State of Humiliation Caution: this story includes swearing.