There is nothing better than being naturally woken by the sun streaming through the windows. You feel the gentle rays warming your face as your eyelids slowly turn red. You know that morning has broken.
By the time you’ve sat in the sun filled kitchen you’re coming to the conclusion that today will be a floaty skirt kind of day. So, you head upstairs to change out of your jim-jams and into your summery swishy skirt.
I should probably explain that this day is not just any day; this day is the day that volunteering starts at Headway Devon.
So, I glide down the stairs, my skirt brushing against my legs, feeling like summer. Then I see my Mum. Now, my Mother is no prude. Just the other day when we were on a cycle ride she decided it was bikini weather and therefore stripped down to her two-piece for the rest of the day. Pedaling contently along the River Ex in her costume, without a care in the world.
She, however, looked me up and down and asked me something I really was not expecting.
“Is that skirt really appropriate?”
What does that even mean?
Why wouldn’t it be?
Appropriate for what?
Questions unanswered I trekked upstairs to get changed. I quickly pulled on some leggings and a cardigan. Vigilantly covering myself from head to toe.
Now, I’m not sure why but for some reason this made me angry. Why should I have to wear something that made me feel uncomfortable in order to stop men leering at my legs? Surely we live in a society where men and women are equal, and if that truly is the case then why should I have to cover myself up to make other people feel more at ease? Surely it is our own personal choice?
I realise that having to wear leggings is nothing in comparison to having to wear a burka (and whilst some people choose to cover themselves up, this is not a choice I have personally made). I also realise that when working with people with brain injuries it is important to make them feel relaxed, and therefore to dress appropriately. But what I didn’t realise was just how strongly I felt about having the choice of dressing myself as I see fit.
So, I was on the bus to Exeter, sun streaming through the windows, on my way to volunteering at Headway.
My legs and arms are covered which means that I am hot and bothered. My legs and arms are covered which means that I can volunteer to the best of my capabilities. My legs and arms are covered which means that I am fitting into society’s norms.
Maybe my skirt wasn’t appropriate this time but I will be sure to wear my floaty skirt on as many different occasions as possible this summer. Not because society says I can, not because it is appropriate, but because it is a floaty skirt kind of day.