In my own thinking, this nightgown is infamous no matter how I describe it. I was prompted to purchase it shortly after DH and I merged our two households of teenagers, his all male household and my all female household. Our relaxed standards of modesty, coming from same sex households, met an abrupt end. No more swigging milk straight from the jug in your underwear. No more dashing straight from the shower to one's room in nothing more than a towel. For me, the hardest change was not being able to sip my morning coffee in the over sized t-shirts I liked to wear to bed. DH's hairy chest at the breakfast table was wonderful and disconcerting and new.
Our various immodesties became an issue one evening after a few too many beers. In response, I marched into Walmart the next day and purchased the most modest nightgown I could find. It was a thick red knit. The sleeves were so long that it hung down over my hands. It covered me from my shoulders to my ankles in swathes of fabric. The size was less important than the fact that it covered everything thoroughly. The fun was that DH had a red nightshirt very much like my gown.
There were no more spats about my immodesty. In fact, I came to love this nightgown and wore it for nearly ten years until all of our young adult children left home.
In fact, I was wearing it one night when we had such a downpour that the night crawlers were drummed out of the ground. In great excitement, DH set me up with a pair of gum boots (Wellies) and armed with coffee cans we set out to collect worms for fish bait. I was squatted down in the mud under a neighbor's window in a tug-of-war with a worm, when a voice called out "Who's there?" DH identified us and our purpose, but I was embarrassed to be caught in my mud-splattered red nightgown. Some of those worms were 18 inches long and as big around as your little finger!
The same weekend that I received my reader's e-mail, I happened across this blog post, which described the limits of human perception and at the same time made a beautiful point about privilege: "I see my privilege as a debt that I benefit from but no one will ever make me pay."
Depending upon one's perspective, I am privileged as an American, as a Caucasian, as a heterosexual, as a tall slender body type, as middle-class, as a professional woman. I recognize my privilege. I work hard as an educator not to discriminate against any self-definition my students (or my readers for that matter) may be negotiating. I am continually confronted with aspects of being I don't understand.
For a week, my eyes have physically bothered me. They have bothered me to the point that I've been unable to comment on other blogs as often as I like. I literally reach a point where I tear up. I am of the belief that spiritual problems often manifest in the body (eg, stiff necks likely mean some sort of stubbornness.) So, while Rags began out of my perception that women my age gradually become invisible (my focus in 2010) and that I was too fond of the color gray (my "color" focus in 2011) and that I did not know how to shop retail (my focus in 2012), the blog has never overtly been about body image.
If you are still reading, I am curious about several things here:
- Do you have an item of clothing as storied as my ugly red nightgown?
- How aware are you of the various privileges you may enjoy as a function of your identity? And what do you do about it?
- Have you ever changed a post when you realized you've inadvertently offended a reader, either with your photographs or your words?