“You always dress so classy,” she said to me as we passed on the street. “I really like how you manage to look sexy without being, you know” – she lowered her voice – “slutty.”
If anything has ever made me want to unbutton my blouse and rip a few inches off my skirt, it was that.
That girl was just one person, sure. But I wish that attitude weren’t so endemic to the vintage community. I’ve unfollowed a couple of tumblr rockabilly blogs for continually posting stuff like “reblog if you wish women still acted like ladies”. It’s funny to me how people don’t see that ideals of modesty are constantly evolving. Many of the styles these vintage girls fetishize were downright scandalous by, say, Victorian standards. Exposed ankles? What a slut! Who’s to say today’s iterations won’t look positively dowdy in fifty years?
I hate that the way I dress comes with embedded implications of how I think or what values I hold. I, personally, prefer a more understated sex appeal in my daily life. (My burlesque life is a whole other beast.) I’m not comfortable in short skirts or tight dresses, but don’t think for a second that I’m okay with shaming people who are. My fifties dresses don’t come with fifties values. Perish the thought – you can value modesty for yourself without hurling epithets at those who aren’t just like you!
I feel caught between worlds sometimes. I want to present Prim as Fuck and still be loyal to my poly folks and my burlesque dancers and my sex workers. I don’t want my personal style to negate my commitment to My People, and I definitely don’t want it to imply, ever, that I’m complicit in shaming others’ sexuality.