Girding for war? Why did I hate clothes?

By | November 25, 2023

This is really a weird question. Why? I’m honestly not sure. I think I didn’t have confidence in what I wore, what I chose, how I wore what I chose, what looked good or what I felt comfortable in.

Photo by Ruthson Zimmerman on Unsplash

I know it sounds weird, but when I had to start wearing tights, it made me much more conscious of my body, and actually encouraged me to keep losing weight. That alone meant that I had to be more aware of my own body.

Perhaps when I was a kid, I was brought up in a more traditionally conservative family; our bodies were to be hidden, were unattractive, did unattractive things… I think my parents’ generation especially were uncomfortable with their bodies. I don’t know why. The weirdest part was that Mom was actually trained as a nurse. So she’d have been used to dealing with the human body’s inevitable design failures.

My father, too, seemed to detest his body. From his unwillingness to accept the simple embarrassing fart of a poor teenage boy to his desire to cover everything with trousers. Shorts weren’t considered acceptable, office type attire was to be worn to work and everywhere. No idea why.

Growing up in a puritanical context like that, meant that clothes for guys weren’t seen as to be admired. We were limited to rougher fabrics, formal military styles, male items, dark colors, course cuts, rough textures.

This never ending set of ‘rules’ determined by people we didn’t know meant that clothing choices were limited, not by what was available, but by what we shopped for. Dull blues, blacks, whites… hard leather shoes and belts, crisp seams, suits and jackets. And the ultimate symbol of male servitude: the tie.

Girding for war seems an appropriate analogy for getting dressed for men. Everything seemed to be dressing for protection: shirts with buttons on one side so you could access your sword; underwear so thick it protected your private parts; strong shoes, heavy pants… we’re going into battle. So… here we are.

Are we in a post-war society? Not yet. But for most of us, the experience of battle will always be far away. So why do we still dress that way?