The other day, a friend and I went to the King of Prussia Mall. As expected, the mall was packed. Now usually, that’s not a problem. People ignore me and I ignore them as we spend our separate lives out shopping. But this time was different.
This time was different because I was wearing a crop top.
To be honest, I’m kind of envious of the type of woman who wears crop tops and bodycon dresses regularly. I can only wish to have that kind of body confidence. But on Saturday, I was feeling my body, feeling my look, and I felt good about myself. Until the stares started.
What kind of stares? Well, there were a few. On the way to the mall and while shopping, there were the uncomfortable stares. The ones that looked up and down, blatantly focusing on my stomach then darting away when I noticed that I was being awkwardly checked out.
There were also the judging stares, eyes making assumptions and disgusting stereotypes as I went past them. Eyes that had an issue with my shirt and an issue with the type of person they associate with it.
Most hurtful were the stares that were not stares at all. Eyes that accidentally glanced at me, widened, then darted away as if they were doing something sinful. As if the sight of me was something wrong, something depraved.
Why is that the way of the world? Why can’t a girl wear a crop top that makes her feel pretty without receiving all these stares, making her doubt her decision and leaving her sad and embarrassed. Is that simply something women have to accept and deal with if they choose to wear a certain piece of clothing?
“I don’t really think about it,” said a College freshman when I asked him what he thought when he saw a stranger on the street wearing something along the lines of a short shirt or skirt. It’s true that many people share this sentiment, and don’t think twice about what other people wear. But a lot of people unfortunately take it upon themselves to take an unwarranted interest in the attire of others.
It’s upsetting that this is something women have to think about when they are deciding what to wear on any given day. The potential for strangers’ stares have personally scared me away from wearing a certain outfit several times, and I know many other women who have felt the same.
Of course, there are situations that warrant a certain clothing choice. Wearing a bikini to an interview at a law firm probably isn’t the best choice, and the interviewer probably won’t take you very seriously. In some circumstances, there is a certain attire that is needed for professional, safety, or other reasons, and it is generally needed for men and women. That makes sense.
But what doesn’t, what I’m talking about, is everyday life, when women should be able to go about their business dressed however they want without fear of being judged. If you want to wear a miniskirt while running errands, you shouldn’t have to have any doubts about it. If you want to go for a walk wearing a tight dress, you shouldn’t have to be afraid to. If you want to wear a crop top to the mall, you shouldn’t have to dread the looks you’ll get.
There’s nothing we need to do about it. We’re fine, we’re getting pretty clothes and we want to wear them out. It is those who stare, those who choose to ruin something that has nothing to do with them and bother complete strangers who need to make a change.
Frankly, I’m tired of it. And I’m betting a lot of other ladies are too.
There is no reason to care so much about what someone else is wearing. It does not affect us. It has no bearing on our lives, completely inconsequential.
When you see someone on the street, don’t judge or objectify them for their outfit. Don’t make assumptions or treat them differently based on what they’re wearing. Everyone just wears what they like, what makes them feel good. And that’s no one’s business but theirs.
For most of that day at the mall, my friend stayed close to my side or walked in front of me to try and block out strangers, because he could see how uncomfortable the staring made me. But, at one point, I decided that I was over it. I was done feeling embarrassed.
I ignored some stares. I met others head-on. Most importantly, I walked proudly. I knew I looked good and I refused to cower and succumb to anyone else’s opinion any longer.
Don’t be afraid or feel ashamed to wear what you want. Wear it proudly, because you’re rocking it.