I’m annoyed – mostly at myself. I’ve been so tied up with sex-related issues lately—in mainly a literary sense. And before anyone gets excited, this is not going to be about what you may be thinking. This post is closest to a Public Service Announcement. I should explain.
As most who know me know, I write. As I started to write this essay, Tina, the ageless diva, wails about love–this after I had just finished up some journal writing about an exceptionally passionate evening spent with my friend a few days ago. For the past several weeks, I’ve been working on poems for the Emily Dickinson contest sponsored by the Poetry Foundation and also an erotica poetry project from Tupelo press. I’m also finishing up a review of Mary Tabor’s book, (Re)Making Love: A Sex After Sixty Story. All these things compounded …well…I’m just plain on overload in matters pertaining to anything even remotely relating to sex or sexuality.
So much so that I wrote some rather catty remarks in Twitter about writer Jodi who wrote the book, The Obamas. She was being interviewed on BookTV and I began to increasingly take offense to her comments. I take offense with a lot that I hear on there as their slant is mostly political viewpoints so half the time I’m irritated. My ire, while initially directed at her commentary, soon began to focus on her white bra strap which showed beneath her little black dress, sleeveless no less.
Frankly, I’ve never quite forgiven Michelle Obama for the disservice she did to women “of a certain age” by having such wonderful upper arms and the audacity to bare them on every conceivable occasion. Since my late great-grandmother became a body snatcher and started to reclaim my upper arms a couple of years back, I’m leery of all women who bare their upper arms. “Show-offs” I usually mutter as much as I hope not to.
In any event, I found it increasingly impossible to find any credibility in this author who didn’t seem to know that you dress from the inside out, i.e. – if you’re going to wear the little black sleeveless dress, then you sure as heck better be wearing black lingerie or an appropriate color that doesn’t reek of provinciality.
I then found myself asking the question - Why am I so critical of this woman? What does her un-sexy strap have to do with anything? She’s written a book. I’m usually thrilled to learn that a woman has published and is selling. Normally, I wouldn’t give a hoot what any woman is wearing on BookTV, but the more this woman seemed to become a caricature of herself, the more annoyed I became that she was bringing shame to the Little Black Dress–the embodiment of sophistication, of elegant understatement. Some things are, after all, sacred.
I thought of Mary Tabor. She sorted out the issues of her marriage and separation on her blog and subsequent book– exposed her very soul in her writings. Would Mary wear unsexy underwear with womankind’s most basic piece of power clothing? If she were on BookTV, would she be fiddling with a white bra strap showing beneath her little black dress? I think not!
Come to think of it I know Mary would not. In her Frying Pan chapter, Mary discusses in very frank terms underwear. And she recants how easy it was to spend $1,500 on La Perla lingerie in Neiman Marcus. Yes, I am certain. Mary would not be fiddling with a white strap under her little black dress.
There is no other piece of outer clothing that is as slimming, as attractive, as appropriate in almost any setting as the little black dress. I began to wonder as I watched Jodi fumbling in a public venue–Who failed her?
She obviously got the memo that the little black dress is the most powerful statement any woman can make – the epitome of elegant understatement. It drips sexuality, strength. How could she have not read the part that sexuality is from the inside out? And it’s not about sexy as in sexy-in-a-lingerie sense.
What is it really about? It’s about confidence. Allure. It certainly costs no more to buy black or red or blue underwear. It’s not even about anyone knowing what color your underwear is. It’s about YOU knowing. It’s about being a woman. Beauty is from the inside out. Sexuality is from the inside out. All I’m saying is that it only matters that you know what’s on the inside, what’s underneath. And in this case, what it’s really about is the stark fact that you can’t do something half-way – you have to commit wholly to whatever position you’re taking. You cannot afford a half-hearted effort in anything you attempt nor a stumble.
Maybe that’s what annoyed me the most about Jodi and her strap. Her guard was down. Her failure to give in to the totality of her statement by daring to don the sleeveless little black dress was exposed. With each slip of that white strap her unwillingness to commit to fully becoming a successful, sensual woman was revealed. She appeared, dare I say it, vulnerable. To me, this is the equivalent of man rushing out on the football field, jock-strapless. It just isn’t done unless you’re willing to suffer some dire consequences.
So, to any women reading this here is my memo to the world and to each of you in case, like Jodi, some did not get or read the official I-Am-Woman one sent earlier:
Ladies: In the simplest of terms, when you reach a point where you feel that you have arrived – truly arrived – have come into your own - are woman – dispose of your white underwear. This isn’t about sex, it’s about womanhood – the feminine spirit unleashed. If you’re to the place of wearing the black dress as a power statement, then you must accept that your body will be adorned in matching black or lush-colored underwear as well. And I will add further for my older friends a cautionary note. Just as your mother used to tell you to always wear clean underwear in case you were in an accident, I’m advising you in a much graver matter. I’m asking all of you (and especially those over 60) – Do you really want to die with white underwear on?
Think about that for a moment. Visualize this. Dead. As in door-nail. In white grandma-style underwear, drawers as it were. If you still dye your hair, wear make-up, engage in civil society, and possibly like me – refuse to take out the trash unless you have jewelry, eye make-up and perfume on - take heed. You do not want to be caught dead in white underwear.
I used to be afraid of dying young. Since that’s no longer possible, my last vestige of womanly allure will be to die in black underwear if possible. I think it’s part of the cougar code or something. Life is too short to begin with so there’s little time left for dowdy. If you want to start with buff or beige or taupe then do that. I implore you: Do not become Jodi fiddling with a white piece of spandex in a moment of glory or in your final moment. Jodi’s misstep cannot have been in vain. All must learn from this and move forward.
Women of the world – dump your “drawers” from your drawers. Rid yourself of any vestige of old-fashioned granny-ism. If for no other reason, do it for Jodi. Her BookTV appearance is part of history now. We can’t un-ring that bell for her. There’s TiVo. Permalinks. The most we can do is insure this doesn’t happen to another one of us. Help spread this message. Remember Jodi. Support DDD (Dump Drawer Day).
Now, go out there and do what women do best – shop! You know it’s ultimately up to us to fix this economy so get out there right away! Load up on silk, the microfiber, the spandex. This is serious.
Note: If you’re looking for an affordable everyday black sleeveless dress, I love J Jill’s and this is long-sleeved link. And I’ll tell you more about Frying Pans and underwear when I post my book review of (Re)Making Love unless you buy it right now. Just shop. Now go.
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