Who am I getting dressed up for?
by Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux
I was very fortunate, this weekend, to see Boy Gets Girl, the play which Jordan Bubin eloquently described in his post last week. The play raised a slew of important questions about stalking, pornography, commitment issues, and various and sundry other feminist thoughts, but I was most interested by a point which was brought up only in passing. The main character, Theresa, a woman who is stalked after two dates, remembers getting dressed for the first date, which ended up being one of the most painful and hilarious conversations I have ever seen. But before she knew how disastrously the date would eventually end, Theresa says that she tried on three outfits before she left the house. She confesses that she wanted, badly, to look beautiful to him - a man who ended up ruining her career in New York and forcing her to start a new life across the country.
This is an issue which has been brought up on this blog before, but I think it's a relevant question even when we're not talking about slutty Halloween costumes. The line between dressing for oneself and dressing for the male gaze is one which is very hard for young feminists, myself included, to define. When I put on makeup before class, I don't really think about it - it's simply part of my morning ritual, and I would feel as if I were not adequately "put together" (a bizarre phrase in itself - what am I if I'm not put together, falling apart?) without it. But who am I really putting on the makeup for? Why do I need to accentuate my eyes with mascara, or emphasize my legs by wearing high heels? Why do I belt my dresses, when it would often be more comfortable to wear looser clothes? I like my fashion sense, certainly, but there is an extent to which I'm uncomfortable with my obsession with looking "put together". Who defines "put together"? And who am I putting myself together for?