One hundred and seventy-one

Dress like a total bum while having shopping and having lunch in Yorkville

  

Last Wednesday I spent the afternoon in Yorkville (exclusive shopping district in Toronto known for its posh stores, restaurants and conservative people) “dressed like a total hussy”.  I observed how other people reacted to me and how they treated me based on what I was wearing, and how I felt dressed in a see-through lace tank, black bra, high heels and shiny black leggings.  It was an amusing and scary experience.  And I had tons of stories to tell.

This week I decided to repeat the experiment, dressed as a total bum.  I didn’t shower or even wash my face.  I wore no make-up, except what was left under my eyes from the night before.  I wore an over-sized t-shirt covered in dirt (which I got from the plants on my balcony – my neighbours must think I’m crazy, as I stood on the balcony rubbing soil into my clothing!), cut-off jean shorts and my old running shoes.  I used an old plastic bag as my purse.

I expected to have a lot of reactions, perhaps opposite to what I felt last week.  The actual experience was not what I imagined it would be.  I felt gross, dirty, and unattractive.  I wanted to hide.  I was embarrassed.  I felt horrible.  And other people treated me as such.  They ignored me.  They didn’t want to see me.  A quick glance and they averted their eyes.  I was invisible.  I wasn’t asked to leave anywhere.  I was smiled at in a pitying kind of way.  I expected people to react, but instead they tried hard not to.  No one wants to see the people who are falling apart.  And the more people treated me this way, the worse I felt.  The more I wanted to go home and shower and clean up and put on make-up and wear clean clothes.

But what if I didn’t have anywhere to go to clean up?  What if I didn’t have clean clothes to wear or a hair brush?  How much is it a spiraling cycle where what you look like dictates how you feel?  And how other people react to you changes the way you feel about yourself?  How much does our outward affect our inner?

When I went to try on clothing at one of the nicer stores I got a few weird looks, but no one told me I couldn’t – they just kept an eye on me.  The same lady who told me my outfit was “in” last week hardly glanced at me.  People stayed away.  I was sad and dirty and needed to go home.  As I was on my way to leave, a lady looked at me disgusted.  I finally got the reaction I was looking for, but I was so bummed out by that point I didn’t really care.  If my confidence fell that much in a few hours, I can’t imagine what it would be like after years of living on the streets and being either ignored or sneered at.

One hundred and sixty-four

“Dress like a total hussy!!!!” (suggestion from Leah) while shopping and having lunch in Yorkville

Photo by Josh Rachlis

I felt like a cross between Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, Olivia Newton-John in Grease (at the end) and Mimi Marquez from the musical RENT.  Walking in to a designer store in Yorkville (for those of you who don’t know – exclusive shopping district in Toronto known for its upscale stores, restaurants, hotels and very conservatively-dressed people) wearing shiny black tights, high-heeled shoes, a bra, a see-through lace top and too much make-up was an experience out of a movie.

I wish I’d had someone filming other people’s reactions, because I could only see glances of them when I walked by.  Canadians are often too polite to stare and comment, until it’s behind someone’s back!  But here are some of the reactions I did witness:

  • I biked there and a truck driver honked at me twice, each time he passed me.
  • An older businessman stared at me with his mouth open.
  • Quite a few double takes and some evil looks from a few older women.
  • A woman in Yorkville turned to her friend as I walked by and said “oh, wow”.
  • A “hello” in a drawn out manner and a turn of his head from a young guy walking by me.
  • A man with his son, stopped what he was doing and said “oh yeah” to me.
  • The store clerk while I was trying things on counted how many items I had more than once to make sure I wasn’t stealing anything.
  • I went for lunch with the Eco-comedian and I didn’t remind him that it was ‘out of my comfort zone’ month.  He looked really uncomfortable (his words are “scared”, “is this the same person”, and “what?!”) until he figured out why I was dressed this way.
  • The server wouldn’t stop glancing down at my boobs – and it was a girl!
  • And my very favourite: a girl working at one of the designer shops told me she loved my outfit and said that it’s very “in” right now!

I am generally a fairly conservative dresser.  I like to wear clothes that are a little bigger and comfortable, although still look nice.  I wear a lot of dresses or jeans.  I won’t even wear a bikini.  Before yesterday, I wouldn’t have been caught dead in this outfit (even though I’m sure it could have been a lot worse).

I found out quite quickly that it’s all about confidence.  I just strutted around like I owned the look and no one questioned me.  Women obviously wear stuff like this and according to the store clerk, it’s really not that far from what’s in fashion right now.  And I only spent $10 on my outfit!  Despite appearing confident, though, I actually felt a mix between sexy and totally uncomfortable.  As I was cycling I wanted to cry – to crawl up in a ball and not let anyone see me.  My back-up t-shirt that was in my bag kept calling to me.  I just wanted to blend in with the crowd – I always have, being an average height and weight, brunette, white girl.  It took a lot of energy to have people notice me, and it was fun for awhile, but I’m happy to go back behind my computer and my summer dress and become anonymous again.

Day seventy-four

The high-school-crush date

The Suit

I had the biggest crush in high school on The Suit – well, back then he was far from a suit: goatee, hawaiian shirts, jeans.  A grade niner crushing after a grade twelver.  When we almost bumped into each other at my pub a few weeks ago, we were both a bit stunned.  His crazy shirts have been traded for a dress shirt, a nine-to-five job, and a love of cruise ship vacations.  We are completely opposite from each other.  He loves rules, I love freedom.  But there’s something about an absolute gentleman that you have to love.  He insists on paying for everything (“I invited you out, so I pay” and “If a guy can’t afford to take a girl out to dinner, he can’t afford to have a girlfriend” – quotes from The Suit), he walks on the side of the sidewalk closest to the road to protect me from the cars should one jump up onto the sidewalk (although, wouldn’t that mean I’d break his fall, if that ever did happen…), he always plans for everything so all I have to do is sit back and enjoy the evening.

He chose a wine bar in Yorkville for dinner, knowing my love of wine.  He wore his suit and his pointy shoes (see below for photo) and I wore a dress and heels.  It’s my first fancy date this month.  It was fun to get dressed up and be among the dyed-blond, thousand-dollar-dress-wearing ladies of Yorkville.  We shared all the courses – a lovely plate of prosciutto, cheeses, olives, fruit and bread to start; pizza as main; and cannoli as dessert.  And a nice bottle of Ripasso Italian red wine.

After dinner, we headed to Milagro on Queen Street where my friend was having a going away party because he’s moving back to Nova Scotia.  I was a bit worried bringing The Suit into a room full of already tipsy restaurant workers, but he held his own.  He joined in on every round of tequila shots or sangria someone in the group ordered for the table.  He was lovely when one of the glasses of sangria came splashing across the table towards him by an excited hand-talker’s accident.  As the group went off to sing Karaoke down the street, it was our cue to part ways with them.  But not after lots of hugs and goodbye to my friend.

As the evening came to a close and as we said goodbye I thought of how funny it is that we are so different now, considering we came from basically the same place.  Yet, despite our differences, we get along quite well.  I’m fascinated by his rules (he has rules for everything) and he is fascinated by my lack of them.  I guess it’s true that opposites sometime do attract.  But I’m not sure how long before those opposites would drive each other insane!

The Suit's pointy shoes

Speaking of paying for dates…

The Suit sent me this article from the Toronto Sun this morning because he thought I’d get a kick out of it: “Website matches suitors and dream dates – for a price”.  A totally different way of paying for a date.  Whatsyourprice.com is an online dating site where less attractive people offer more attractive people money to go on a date with them.

What’s Your Price users are divided into two camps – “generous” users and “attractive” users. The attractive users – beauty being their currency – post photos and name a price they think a generous user should pay in order to garner the privilege of taking them out on a date. When a generous user stumbles upon someone that he (or she – but according to Wade, the vast majority of generous users are male) is interested in, they make a monetary offer for their time and the transaction begins.

Wow.  I’m almost speechless.  Read the full article for more information and the problems with starting a relationship by paying for it.  And read the blog section of their website (here).  Shocking.

Tonight

Clubbing.  Oh boy…