Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Sorry Boys, I'm Not Your Dress-Up Doll

I should probably be writing about the new Lily Allen video (My initial reaction: I like it; followed by my more thought-out reaction: Does that make me a #solidarityisforwhitewomen -style racist? Yikes . . . more contemplation later!), or explaining where I've been since The Militant Baker freaking rocked my world by linking to my post about Maria Kang, fitsperation and privilege (moving to the new house, making art, and not sleeping very much is the short answer). However, last night I had this brilliant idea for a post series, and I just can't wait to get it started. Therefore, without further ado, I give you:

Feminist Undercover: Keeping My Big Mouth Shut, One Shift at a Time

Tuesday nights, I work as a bartender. Generally, I like it: I get to join in for karaoke when I'm not too busy, the pay is good, and the owner is chill. The customers are also pretty chill, for the most part. But here's the thing:

Every week, I wear a pair of cowgirl boots. And not just any boots -- these are my very favorite, super-comfortable red cowgirl boots that the Mr. gave me for Christmas seven years ago. Since then, I've rarely appeared without them -- with the exception of my wedding ring, they are my most-worn accessory. And I love these boots. I love the way I stomp around in them. I love the way they make even the most mundane outfit look cool and artsy. And I love the way they support my feet -- especially over a long shift at work.

The highly controversial boots.
Apparently, not everyone at the bar feels quite the same way. And last night, when I got on shift, my boss pulled me to the side, explained that I was doing a great job and no one has any complaints, except . . . "People are tired of the boots." I didn't have to ask to know exactly which people we were talking about. 

See, I catch the tail end of the day shift's crowd. And overall, they're nice people -- hardworking, mostly blue-collar, mostly middle-aged dudes looking for some cheap beer and a pretty girl to talk to before they go home alone. And I know that not everyone can be an ├╝ber-progressive feminist baddass like myself, so I don't hold it against them that sometimes their conversation topics leave me wanting to either give someone a vicious intellectual tongue-lashing, or run for the door. And I understand that part of my job is to look cute, and act cute, and put up with their unsolicited comments on my appearance, because at the end of the day, they are the customer, the beer is the product, and I am a major part of the packaging that makes a 66¢ bottle of Bud worth the $2.50 they pay for it. And lord help my closeted feminist butt, but I keep doing it week after week because the money's good and I need that money right now.

Even so, I have my limits. Back when I was in high school, some random girl once handed me a "Fashion Police" citation for wearing a pink t-shirt with red sneakers. Back then, I simply laughed and threw the slip of paper away. Now imagine me ten years older, with a whole lot less fucks to give.
Me: "I'm sorry, I really like my boots. I dress up for the customers, I do my makeup for them -"
Boss: "No, you do that for yourself. You do it to get better tips, pick up some more hours . . ."
Now, I may be misquoting here; because a slow miasma of rage had begun to creep across my vision. But the basic implication was, if I vary my footwear, I stand to improve my nightly haul and potentially pick up more hours on the schedule. Let's ignore the questionable logic of that statement and focus on the important stuff: 

"So you want me to wear . . . more?"

Ladies and Gentlemen, I believe we have just discovered my bar's "Flair" policy.