cutout sleeves

4

WORTH BEADED LOTUS GOWN, EARLY 20th C.

Pink and cream silk chiffon layered over silver lamé, metallic lace hem studded with sequins, short sleeve bodice decorated with crossed stylized flowers in white, crystal and ombreéd pink beads, metallic lace insert under tulle, sleeves having cutouts edged in paste jewels, off-center beaded band with ombreéd tassel and three lotus flowers, chiffon underskirt edged in crystal beads, corset interior

I’m not often all that opinionated through social media but wanted to share some thoughts with anyone who would like to read on. (This is a personal story and opinion, which means that I accept and respect that people may feel differently than I do.) When I was in the 6th grade I was suspended from my public school for a dress code violation. I was on the honor roll + maintained a 4.0 GPA. I was not a disruptive student but found myself being shamed and embarrassed by adults. I had worn a turtleneck sweater with long sleeves but cutouts revealing my shoulder blades. I was removed from class in front of all of my peers who whispered and laughed, I was forced to write “I will obey the dress code” over and over in the front office while being told that my indecency was appalling and “a distraction to other students”, and I was suspended. My education was interrupted to call attention to my body and my gender and to shame me for both. My mother told me I had done nothing wrong, but I cried, feeling ashamed nonetheless. Society had taught me to make other people comfortable, to be sexless, to be apologetic, and to be receptive of their criticism. It wasn’t until I was much older that I realized I was allowing everyone around me to dictate how I felt about my body. We are at a time now where there is still fear/taboo and often times an intolerable reaction toward female sexuality and women taking ownership of their physical form. As adult women we are weighted by the social obligation to have a reason to explain ourselves if we feel entitled to our own bodies. We teach young girls who mature early to be mindful that the gaze of other people is now their responsibility. Society perpetuates the idea that women need to appease others with their physical form, when in actuality we should rally around the idea that females are reclaiming their bodies. We are more than our bodies, but we are also entitled to celebrate them if we choose. Your body is the post natural and beautiful thing you can own! The point of feminism is to support women in their freedom to choose, to be equal, to be without shame/guilt/self-doubt. To teach them that showing their own skin doesn’t make them less intelligent, less respected. Women can be all things, and that’s beautiful.