In high school, my friends and I would go to the mall almost every weekend. The nearest Nordstrom was over an hour away, so where else would we get our wide-leg Silver Jeans and baby blue Lucky Brand polo shirts besides The Buckle?
I remember always being whistled or yelled at by gross older boys who literally had nothing better to do than harass chicks at the mall. My friends and I took it as a compliment at the time, because we were 15 and didn’t know any better.
Last summer, I was walking to a few castings in Midtown during the July heat wave. There was no way in hell I could wear pants or a long sleeve shirt, so my daily outfit was either a mini skirt or shorts with a tank top. It was so hot that waiting for the subway was like being inside a sauna full of empty Doritos bags and rats.
I couldn’t even wear makeup because the sweat on my face would smudge my mascara.
I was waiting to cross 9th avenue when a guy walked behind me and said, “Damn, yo booty is looking nice today.”
I was already in a bad mood from the heat. The casting I had just came from barely looked at me before handing my portfolio back and saying, “Thanks for coming,” despite having to walk up nine flights of stairs due to a broken elevator. The last thing I wanted was to be sexually harassed by some douchebag.
I turned my head and gave him the classic Beavis and Butthead WTF face:
“Why you so upset baby?” He started to walk back toward me.
“Really? Baby? Are you kidding me?” I threw the Stetten sass at him, which was a huge mistake because responding to those idiots encourages them more.
“Damn baby I was just trying to holla, you ain’t got to be a bitch!” He was angry.
“Oh now I’m a bitch?” Was I really about to get into an argument with a stranger who may or may not have the ability to stab me in the middle of Manhattan?
“F#$k you bitch!” He was now screaming in my face.
As badly as I wanted to punch him, I crossed the street as fast as I could and ignored him. I didn’t want to risk getting murdered or pink eye.
I’m used to hearing “Hey sexy,” every time I go outside while wearing shorts or something that doesn’t cover my entire body. The men who catcall have no idea how disrespectful and misogynist they’re being. Men haven’t had their bodies connected to their value like women have. The world is constantly trying to reinforce that our bodies define us. I shouldn’t have to be verbally defined by a stranger as “sexy” or “having a fat ass.”
Just last month I was picking up my birth control pills at the pharmacy and some dude was staring at me while I waited in line. I was wearing skinny jeans, a tank, and a jacket. Pretty much what I wear every single day of my life. After waiting 5,000 hours for an old lady in front of me arguing with the pharmacist about her insurance, I paid for my pills and walked out of the store and past some random dude just hanging out.
He stared at me as well, and decided to let me know that: “You’d be hot with some bigger titties.”
Oh, would I? Thanks guy who was wearing Oakley sunglasses, holding a paper bag with a 40 of the cheapest beer you could find inside. I really needed to know that my tits were not adequate. Good thing I completely ignored you, because had I offered to have sex with you, I wouldn’t want to feel the embarrassment of being rejected by such a quality gentleman like yourself. My body clearly wasn’t up to your standards, but thank you for encouraging me to wear a push-up bra next time I show my face in public.
Walking around Manhattan sometimes feels like I’m an animal in a zoo. I have tons of cut-off jean shorts. I’ve been wearing them since forever and I don’t plan on stopping wearing them. I just really like the style and want to be able to wear whatever the hell I want whenever the hell I want.
Girls are taught to dress conservatively in high school, being sent home or getting detention for showing too much cleavage or wearing other types of revealing clothing. Young women are taught that they need to be responsible for their appearance as to not excite perverted men. Women are taught to not dress provocatively to avoid sexual harassment and potential rape. Right, because it’s OUR responsibility to not get harassed or raped.
I’ve changed my clothes before going grocery shopping because my neighborhood is plagued with catcallers. Sometimes it’s easier to put on pants than risk having to deal with gross and inconsiderate men.