I was born in 1955, smack in the middle of the ultimate conservative decade. Men went to work, women stayed home and tended the nest. Absolutely nothing wrong with that and I was fortunate that I was raised by two of the best parents in the world.
I was the 3rd child and the 1st girl and NO ONE ever did tantrums and drama better than me. My two older brothers doted on me, my father (who was a Marine) was afraid I’d break if he raised his voice to me (plus Mom ran the household and did most of the discipline) and I was so frickin’ cute, it was scary. Massive curls all over the place, dimples that you could see a mile away, and never a thought that anything I wanted wasn’t possible.
My Mom was so thrilled to have a girl. She hand sewed my dresses – all ruffles and ribbons and as girlie as you could get. Hair in natural ringlets that couldn’t be brushed so my hair was always short. I still struggle with it because when it comes to curly hair, the struggle is real.
I had my Barbie’s, my dolls, my girl toys – child ironing board (there is a picture of me ironing on it), child kitchen set and oven, etc. All those things made for girls and always in pink.
I liked them. I loved my Barbie. I loved dressing her up with my friends. I liked helping my Mom with the dishes and I especially loved that my brothers had to also learn how to set the table, how to behave at the dinner table, how to clear the dinner table and how to do the dishes. We had a schedule and for all our chores every day and every weekend. The boys helped Dad in the yard while I helped Mom clean the house. We all learned how to do the laundry and God help you if you misbehaved in the grocery store.
Imagine my Mom’s horror, after dressing me in my frilly dress with beautiful bows in my hair, I would go out to the backyard and jump right into the dirt pile with the boys and play with their Tonka trucks. It was heaven and they let me because, in hind sight, I think boys are always a bit afraid of girls. At least they were with me. I was a beautiful little doll that no one wanted to break, so I used that to my full advantage.
My parents never told me “how” I was supposed to be. There were rules within the household and we knew them. It gave us security and stability because you always knew what was going to happen next. If it was 5:30 in the afternoon, that was time to start helping Mom with dinner. We knew when we ate, when we had to go to bed, what shows we were going to watch that night, when to get up, etc.
We knew nothing about how some people were “different.” Those sorts of things weren’t known/discussed back in the day. I do remember seeing an odd couple in San Francisco when I was about 13. It looked like 2 women but I wasn’t sure. I did a double take and asked my Mom what did I just see. She didn’t really answer my question but just told me not to stare and let it be.
Looking back and then looking at today, I guess the world is always changing and in the scheme of things for me, what you’re wearing doesn’t concern me. In my way, I’ve always “raged against the machine” but didn’t know it. I’ve always just done the things I wanted.
I am now into make-up and false eyelashes because my little stubby eyelashes are disappearing as I get older. I’m getting ready to enter a training program for one of the biggest corporations in California and I don’t know that game. I will have to learn it. I will have to figure out this new playing field as I start to slug it out with some very heavy hitters. In other words, I’ll be playing with the “big boys” and hope to only be judged on my work and not my looks.
I’m scared, excited, confident, lack confidence, all at the same time. I will have to update my wardrobe.
But I will play the game on my own terms. I’m almost 61, my hair is burgundy and down to my waist. I wear bright red lipstick every day because it looks fucking fabulous on me. I sometimes leave the house without make-up and sometimes I don’t. I still look amazing in a short skirt, but really do prefer jeans and a t-shirt with my hair pulled back and tons of coffee.
Don’t tell me how to live my life and I won’t do the same to you. As long as you’re decent and kind towards me, I’ll be the same with you. I won’t bother you unless you draw first blood. Then I’ll clock your ass.
I don’t care much about what you think or how you dress. Just don’t be an ass and we’ll get along just fine.