Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Daddies, let your daughters grow up to be paratroopers

Today, I saw a quote by some actress who shall remain nameless, who said she loved to wear black military boots as a teenager. Her father, she said, would have preferred that she wear heels.

I had the same dilemma as a teen. I was into G.I. Joe when I was 12-14, and I kept up with the boots/jeans/camp shirts well into my junior year of highschool. I remember my dad once saying to me in exasperation, "You're my little girl, not my little paratrooper!"

Now, I can't claim to know why he was so exasperated with me for the way I dressed. I was certainly not slovenly or particularly butch (I don't think they ever worried I was a lesbian, anyway), although many years later I learned they were afraid I was into drugs, because of my solitary and secretive ways.

But I will say this. The jeans and boots were a kind of armor. I knew it even at the time, although I couldn't have articulated it. I still wear them regularly, although these days I am more urban-cowgirl than military surplus. And you know what? I have a nice collection of high heels, too. I even wear skirts regularly these days, because I like my legs. And so does my husband.

If I had been able to talk to my dad back then, instead of retreating into adolescent sullenness, I would have said, "Listen, Dad, this is an uncomfortable time for me. My body is betraying me, and I'm getting attention from boys and men that I don't know how to handle just yet. I don't mind dressing up for special occasions, but right now these clothes are a kind of cocoon. They make me feel I can protect myself. I don't feel I have to compete with other girls my age, for male attention I don't really want anyway. Just be patient with me; you'll have more to worry about when I meet a boy I like and start dressing up to get his attention."

Of course a few years later he was grousing at me for wearing these "mod" styles of clothes.


Dads. You can't hardly dress any way that will please them.

Love ya, Dad.

1 comment:

Freyalyn said...

Dad's are funny! Mine once chased me round the house with scissors because I'd dipped the bottom two inches of my foot long hair in blue ink (and I was about 14!!) But they really want you to dress as a little girl until suddenly you morph into unthreatening maturity.