This is for any womxn who has been made to feel that the way they dress has nothing to do with them and everything to do with the men in their lives: their reactions, their perceptions, their tastes, their uncontrollable sexual desires – the male gaze. I would like to especially dedicate this post to my high school mates who were the subject of teachers’ tea-room conversations because of the length of their skirts. It was unfair that assumptions on your character were made based on how tight or short your skirts were.
Most of the reasons I am about to give also apply to the amount of makeup I choose to wear or not; the way I rock my hair as well as the longer items of clothing I wear. In short, whatever I do with my body is for me. Let’s go:
- Personal style
My style has been evolving. I came from only wearing long and loose-fitting clothes because I believed that is what God wanted (🤷🏿♀️some verses I misinterpreted?). I lowkey used to judge girls who wore sleeveless things above the knees – “Will they get husbands?” “Oh shame they must not know their bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit.” But my mummy ( one of the most stylish womxn I know!) was the one pitying me, one day she just said, “ Chebet you need to stop wrapping yourself like a sausage.” I think that was the turning point. Nowadays in as much as long flowing robes, dresses and jumpsuits are part of my style, I also have my range of rompers, shorts and shirt-dresses that literally make me dance. If it is comfortable, accentuates my body and makes my soul sing then I am wearing it. May this also serve as an official announcement that my personal style is not up for debate.
2. The weather
This one should be obvious, but here we are so… I wear short clothes when it is hot. In fact I would probably be naked if Adam and Eve hadn’t done whatever they did in Eden. Like my guy, when the weather is the kind that makes you sweat buckets, how is it still about you? Ah! Ah! I need air! I need to help my body cool itself. Plus you are already killing us in shocking numbers. Must I also die from a heat wave? It really truly absolutely is not about you.
3. To feel sexy for myself
Have you seen them fire legs though? No really have you seen them?! And those holy thighs, praise be! Sometimes I walk past the mirror and I just have to stop and walk back and tell myself, “Dzaaaaamn girl! Who birthed you?” . Now one day when COVID-19 allows us to date people properly, I might try to be sexy for someone else but maybe that is where the confusion comes in. Even in such situations it is me, mimi, mina who makes that call so just relax until you explicitly know it is for you😏
- I am secure in my body
There are silent rules around what one has to look like in order to deserve wearing short things (hae team #beachbody and #summerbody). Now, I need to make this abundantly clear. I DO NOT CARE FOR THOSE RULES!!! I used to but I am 25 now so… these dark inner thighs, stretch marks, chicken pox marks, pigmentation wahalas – all of it, will be seen. I also no longer care whether someone thinks it is attractive or not. All that matters is that I am in love and full acceptance of this glorious powerful beautiful evolving sacred body. Thankfully, I have relearnt that this body is also as worthy of taking up space and I will adorn it in the way I feel honours and celebrates it. Again, this is about me!
- My worth and value is not attached to a piece of clothing
This should be a no-brainer, but the indoctrination is powerful. That’s how I internalised that short clothes mean cheap, easy and “loose” while long clothes mean expensive, unattainable and kept. But now that I know that a human being’s value is intrinsic and that each and every one of us is worthy of respect and dignity – I call bullshit. My body is not a hanging piece meat in a butcher shop to be ogled, prodded and slaughtered. My body is sacred and valuable. My body is as much the temple of the Holy Spirit when it is in booty shorts as when it is in a maxi dress. Periodt.
Sometimes we are just outchea trying to swim and run fast enough. Other times we are just dancing to a Sho Madjozi song or learning how to vosho unhindered. And the short clothes come through.
Partying. Sunbathing. Chilling in my house (oops, parents’ house). Interviewing (fine, am kidding😜). For me there are some activities and events that just need to be done in something short. I must just be left alone to live my life.
There are times when that short dress or skirt is simply the easiest and fastest to put on or accessorise. It’s not always that deep.
9. To disturb the peace
Sometimes it is that deep and I wear short clothes to make a political statement. To shake it up a little. To make good trouble. To show that I do not care for narrow sexist ideologies that restrict the way I want to express myself through dressing. As an affront to the status quo that allows these ideologies to continue pervading our systems. Also, sometimes I am just making a petty stand because some of the people who demand to be shown respect through my dressing are usually not even worthy of respect 👀. Plus these rules of theirs that we are told to abide by still don’t keep us safe so I don’t see the point of being caged by restricting norms that don’t even do what they say they are supposed to do.
10. My dress, my choice
I will wear short things because I want to. I know I know, they taught us otherwise but whatever I decide to wear as a womxn is my choice. My decision. Muamuzi wangu mimi mwenyewe. I am not asking for anything from anyone. I do not exist for anyone’s consumption or pleasure. It is not about them even if they have made that the case.
Hi men, I know this may be so hard for you😒 seeing that you have been brought up in a world created by you and for you. But yo! It is 2020 and you are still using our dressing as an excuse to assault, rape and kill us. Please grow up. Thanks. And the “well-intentioned” mamas, aunties, sisters and brothers, I beseech you – stop doing the devil’s work of justifying patriarchal violence and start addressing the root causes of why womxn cannot be safe in this world!
In conclusion and because womxn are not allowed to be angry and fed up lemme sugarcoat a bit. As much as I have had it, I also want to express my utmost respect for people and their cultures. When I have to, I will wear “respectable” clothes for you and for peace in this my toxic forced marriage with patriarchy. But at least now you know where I stand. Sawa.
Happy new week!