That Time I Wore a Skirt
Updated: Sep 8, 2018
It shouldn’t have been groundbreaking - but in a way, it was.
I’ll be the first to admit it: I haven’t delved much into the world of gender-bending fashion. I hesitate to even use the phrase “gender-bending,” because we’ve already established on this blog that gender is nothing but a social construct, and fashion is whatever you want it to be. The idea that pieces of clothing have a gender expression is somewhat alarming and disturbing to me. It’s just… fabric.
But alas, we live in a society that chooses to assign genders to pieces of clothing. And I, for the most part, wear clothes that support my expression as a male. At least, in terms of the cut - I’ve explored plenty of colors and even some styles that most would associate with a more feminine pallet, but I don’t tend to wear stereotypically feminine silhouettes, such as dresses and skirts.
That is, I didn’t until I wore a rainbow skirt to the Taylor Swift concert in Nashville, Tennessee.
Now. As far as places for a man to be seen in a skirt go, a Taylor Swift concert is relatively safe. Her concerts are known for wild outfits and over-the-top concoctions from fans of all ages and genders. Her team always picks people to meet her after the show for free, so the more obnoxious you are, the better chance you have to get noticed. So, I matched with my mom in a rainbow skirt and sparkly silver top.
The concert, though, was in Tennessee. Nashville is a liberal bubble in a not-so-liberal state, but I’d say the chances of seeing a man walking down the street in a skirt in Nashville on any given day are slim. It’s not New York City, where people don’t bat an eyelash at things like that because they see it every day. In Nashville, something like that is still seen as out of the ordinary, even on the day of a Taylor Swift concert.
So, I was nervous.
I don’t like to admit the fact that I was nervous to wear a skirt. I like to preach that people should feel confident in whatever they want to do and whatever they want to wear, but it’s hard to take your own advice. I’m not from Nashville, so the setting was unfamiliar. And I’ve never worn a skirt - so the feeling was unfamiliar as well.
I was not, however, going to be intimidated into not wearing the skirt. I took on the attitude that anyone who had a problem with my fabulous outfit could stuff it.
I’m not going to lie - I was expecting problems. My mom and I were staying in a house about a ten minute walk from the stadium where the concert was being held. The neighborhood we were in was nice, but it was along a busy thoroughfare populated with all kinds of people, some of whom seemed like they would be less than enthused to see a man walking down the street in a sparkly rainbow skirt in the middle of the day.
What I got instead of problems, though, was support. Shocking support.
Exhibit A: an elderly black man sitting on his front porch. When we walked past him, he called something out to me. I felt a pit of fear in my stomach, expecting it to be negative simply because he is of a different generation. But instead, he said “There’s nothing better. There’s nothing better than that.” He smiled and gestured at my outfit as he said it. My heart swelled.
That man set the tone for the rest of the evening. Other than the car full of angry people who literally almost ran me over when I had the right-of-way because they seemed not to like my outfit, everyone who witnessed me that night was either silent or outright supportive.
All night, both on the way to the concert and once we were there, people were complimenting us. We got an innumerable number of stares, which I was expecting. People just aren’t used to seeing a man in a skirt, no matter how sad that fact is. But most of the stares were accompanied by a supportive smile, and many of them included a quick comment about how they loved our outfits or thought we looked amazing. I even had several people ask to take photos with me.
Now, we could talk about how it shouldn’t be this groundbreaking for a man to wear a skirt and how these actions - even though they were supportive - point to the fact that we still have a lot further to go as a society. And we could also talk about how I am a cisgender white male, so my chances of getting support in a skirt are higher than someone trans, or someone black, simply because of other layers of oppression.
But. With this post, I want to focus on the positives - how wearing that skirt was a small act of bravery, and how that small act of bravery was rewarded with complete support from total strangers. Almost all of my interactions in that skirt were positive.
To be honest, it gives me hope.
It gives me hope that society is moving toward something better. It gives me hope that we are beginning to slowly break down gender norms, even though the setting of a Taylor Swift concert isn’t exactly representative of how things are in society as a whole. It’s a step. And sometimes, a step is all we need.
I’ll close with this: as long as you feel safe, take that risk. Wear something you’ve always wanted to wear, even if society is telling you not to wear it. Express yourself in new ways, ways you’ve always been afraid of. You might be surprised at what you find when you do.
I know I was.
This post is brought to you by I Dare You by The xx, because this post is about being brave and I dare you to push yourself. It’s been added to my blog playlist, which you can download on both Spotify and Apple Music. Enjoy.
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