Sorry, I’m Not Sorry: I Have Never Dressed For Male Consumption And Never Will
Earlier this year, Janelle Monae made a comment about not being for “male consumption,” after a misogynistic Internet troll told her to stop being so soulful and wearing “those dumba** suits,” claiming she was too sexy for them.
This week I found myself in a somewhat similar situation, bearing Monae’s same sentiments. It was around 11 a.m. as I exited the crowded 34th Street subway station to begin my 4-block walk to my job. Of course, the busy area is filled with tourists, ticket scalpers and people standing on street corners trying to sell everything from perfume to suitcases. That day for some odd reason, I opted to not listen to music during my daily stroll like I normally would.
“Hey!” a deep voice greeted me as I was preoccupied with my cellphone. Living in New York City for the past year I’ve learned to just ignore random folks on the street, but the next words that came out of this man’s mouth were too disrespectful not to pay attention. “You shouldn’t have your stomach out like that,” he yelled and pointed to me on the bustling street corner. “Excuse me?” I thought in my head, making eye contact because there was no way in hell he was talking to me.
“You need to have a 6-pack before you wear a top like that,” he said balancing the sign he was carrying in one hand, while lifting his shirt up to show off his own. Sure, he had an okay abdominal situation going on, but who was he to tell me what I should and shouldn’t be wearing? My ensemble that day was nothing provocative either, mind you: a simple midriff baring crop top paired with skinny jeans and Isabel Marant kicks. I’m 5′ 5″ and 135 pounds with a curvy yet athletic build I credit to over 10 years of competitive cheerleading and gymnastics. So, you can already imagine the look of confusion that painted my face as he pointed in my direction. I had never heard anyone tell me that I shouldn’t be showing my stomach, let alone the small slither of skin that was uncovered by my crop top.
At 23 years old, I take pride in my appearance and keeping myself both healthy and fit. I’ve seen plenty of individuals walking around in cropped outfits that have garnered side eyes from passerby’s, but never did anyone stop them to let me know their thoughts. Honestly, some things should be left unsaid. But I wasn’t going to let him have the last word – not after disrespecting me like that. When it comes to my sartorial choices, they are just that: my choices! I have never been one to wear clothes to impress others, especially for “male consumption,” and never will. As much as I wanted to curse him out, I kept my composure and turned to him and said, “Sir, please get a life.”
Clearly, this guy was standing on a corner bored and was probably miserable with himself, so he decided to pick on a stranger for no apparent reason. After causing a scene on the street, I continued my walk to work. I didn’t feel relieved; I was actually just really confused. “Was my stomach really unsightly?” I thought to myself as I examined myself in the lobby mirror of my office building while waiting for the elevator. I even made sure to hop on an elevator alone so I could asses my entire outfit.
Once I got into my office, I explained the incident to my coworkers, which was met with lots of laughter. “Ashley, you have a stomach?” one guy sarcastically inquired. “Girl, since when?” one lady added. The entire staff agreed that the guy was clearly just another a**hole we all encounter in life.
In the end, the situation was dumb and shouldn’t have bothered me, but being badgered about what you wear and your body image is something many young ladies and women deal with regularly in our society and it’s wrong. But, if I happen to find myself in the same situation again, I’ll be sure to pull Janelle Monae’s “I’m not for male consumption,” line and happily keep it moving with a smile, instead of fueling nonsense.
Ladies, have you ever been in a situation as such? How did you handle the situation?