Thursday, April 14, 2011

Casual X

I am, as I’ve mentioned, a Southern girl. And as any good Southern girl will attest, the mamas in the South have traditionally expected their girls to adhere to certain standards in terms of appearance. “Put on a little lipstick, it’ll make you feel better!” is such a common sentence, it’s been referenced in books. Southern women have always felt they had a responsibility to project charm, grace, and beauty. Now, this is not saying that the rest of the country is composed of slobs; I’m just speaking to my own experience. 

Here’s my not-so-secret secret. I don’t dress well. It’s not really a lack of resources, or laziness, or rebellion against societal standards- I just don’t really think about clothes much. My skin is sensitive, and so I don’t wear makeup any more often than necessary, and I tend to wear the same pair of jeans every day. And by “wear the same pair of jeans” I mean “keep the same pair of jeans handy if I have to leave the house, thereby necessitating a change out of pajama pants”. Now, I know people will think pajama pants are lazy, but I swear, I get up just like everyone else, wash my face and put on lotion, drink my coffee and eat my breakfast, do my household chores and brush my teeth; but when I get dressed, unless there’s somewhere I need to be, I often put on a fresh pair of pajama pants in the morning. 

Don’t look at me like that. I bet you’d do that too, if you worked from home. Some days it’s sweat pants or yoga pants instead of pajamas but let’s be honest- it’s the same thing. 

Today I took my Small One to preschool, and now I’m heading over to see my mom. I had a rough morning, with Small acting as though some vital cord connecting her brain to the planet had been loosened or perhaps sliced through, and I’m dressed, admittedly, like a slob. My hair, which is not long enough for a pony tail, is in a pony tail. I’m in jeans and a t-shirt, with crocs. The people on What Not To Wear would have a field day with me. As I was dropping Small at her school, though, I happened to look around me, and realized, that is the uniform of choice for about eighty percent of moms dropping off their kids. 

I think this is maybe a flaw of my generation. For the purposes of this post, I will say Generation X, though I know there’s debate over the usage of that term- when I use it I’m referring to people my age and a little younger, the children of the Baby Boomers. Are we, as a generation, too casual?

I tend to work under the assumption that the actions of each generation are pretty much a reaction to those of their parents. This is the way of nature, I think. And when I think back to my own school days, I remember moms in skirts, with their hair done, wearing makeup. So maybe that’s it. But on the other hand, we are the children of the generation that made jeans a wardrobe essential, a generation of bra burners and hippies. Could it be that we’ve all just been on a slippery slope since then, careening towards utter slobdom?

Yes. And it’s not just clothes. Our generation is largely casual about sex, about information, about housekeeping, about almost everything, if you really think about it. We share things that mortify our parents, and post our intimate details on facebook. In truth, casual seems to be the watchword. And the generation behind us is even more so! They wear pajama pants to the store, for crying out loud. 

Don’t get me wrong, this is not a call to action. It’s just something to ponder. I wonder - will it continue this way, until we eventually devolve into high tech cave people, sitting around in our underwear, tweeting about what we picked out of our teeth that morning? Or will the pendulum swing back the other way, with our grandchildren wearing ties and pantyhose as they silently remember, with some embarrassment, that time Grandma came to the school play in yoga pants?

What do you think? Are we all too casual today? While you’re thinking, I’ve got to go buy some new pajama pants, to spruce up my wardrobe.