Editor’s Note: Dressing up to fit societies standards
I know that I will probably piss a lot of angry old dudes off with this announcement but I wanted to jump aboard this train as early as possible: ties are stupid and so is telling people what to put on their bodies.
Full disclosure; the last time I wore a tie was at my beloved uncle’s funeral and the moment I entered the building the funeral director took me to a side room and fixed my tie.
Whatever — the truth is out — I can’t tie a tie. Not even to save my life, probably.
I remember when I was 12, I dated this girl who was in the Air Cadets and she taught me how to tie a tie using the pink checkered shoelace that I had kept around my wrist as a bracelet. I took pride in that, for some reason.
But even then there was something so interesting about the dynamic of that relationship and more so, something I began to notice about myself that was a little… different.
While most of my peers were already on the path to traditional social-adherence, I was deep in my parents’ closet searching for weird shit to wear.
I had dyed my ever traditional colour and then opted to go for a Cruella De Vil look.
I remember this one girl once told me that everyone made fun of me because I wore my pants so high and tight, which — I am not going to lie — probably had a lot to do with the Ramones.
I can even remember the first time I had the chance to wear a tie; it was at that faux-graduation ceremony eighth-graders have before they are cast into the uncertain world of secondary-school.
I walked in to see all 12 of my peers looking relatively stunning.
To say the least, their parents probably insisted they dress nice. And now I know why I’m still the type of person to wear jeans to a wedding.
When I prepared for that night I sought out the most disgusting looking Hawaiian shirt I could find, a pair of off-white slacks and a bolo tie depicting a horse that my late grandfather had passed down. Obviously the outfit wouldn’t be complete without white, low top Chuck Taylors — still a staple to this day.
And my parents just kind of shrugged.
I don’t know what was different about their parenting style, but they encouraged me to do whatever I wanted. My mom bought me the clothes I was too embarrassed to buy; my dad, in his relative silence, provided the exact kind of encouragement you would expect from a dude whose son started wearing nail polish.
As a tall, white male with my own set of obvious privileges, I always felt comfortable enough to express myself via any means necessary. Art, music, fashion, or just being a general loudmouth.
I realize now that it was my sense of privilege and entitlement that allowed me to deviate from any traditional path with full confidence, but I hope that doesn’t negate any of the power in the sentiment I am trying to express.
If you saw me wearing some wild shit, you might think a variety of different things.
You might make fun of me, or laugh at me, or you might see me and think, “damn I wish I had the guts to pull off a Canadian tuxedo.”
And my advice to anyone thinking the latter would be the most positively cliché bullshit you could possibly imagine: do you.
Life is too short to adhere to all of societies expectations, especially in an age where traditions are constantly being deconstructed.
I understand the value in practicing tradition, but culture is a fluid and constantly evolving concept.
I am personally looking hopefully towards a future where women aren’t expected to wear dresses and make-up, where men don’t have to wear ties and hold back tears and where gender is recognized for what it is: a social construct.