A few months back I was involved in a university activity whereby I had to stop random people on campus and chat to them about a campaign. In these types of situations (ie. stopping randomers) people are bound to be a bit rude and a bit irritable. It’s all part of the package and you just accept that it’s nothing personal if someone ignores you or is rude or whatever. However, that’s all fine and dandy until someone does actually say something personal to you.
Going about the task in hand, I approached a group of girls, told them what I was doing and handed them a flyer which they accepted. One of the girls then turned to the group and said something to which I don’t recall in its totality but where I do remember being referred to as a ‘freak’.
I was well within earshot, right beside them in fact and heard her perfectly. To be absolutely honest, I was shocked. My jaw dropped. I gasped. It had been a long time since I had been name-called in such a manner. While I admit the reason was not a pressing cultural matter, but rather due to a fashion related choice (to be exact: my beloved slightly cat-eye/'superhero’ red sunglasses), but still, it was completely unexpected and perhaps, you can agree, uncalled for.
In my first year of secondary school, we had an event where we didn’t have to wear our uniform for a day. I was all dressed up; nothing really outlandish but I guess not exactly what anyone else was wearing either, and someone stuck a label on my back saying ‘Loser’. When that girl called me a ‘freak’ that day, I was transported back some seven years previously and briefly made feel exactly the same way.
I have never considered myself a very individual dresser, but I do acknowledge that I take risks from time to time and am willing to try out new trends. In recent years, I have toned it down a lot. When I was about 17, I used to dress far more ‘out there’ compared to now, and at this present moment, my tastes are drifting to a more simple pared down aesthetic (ugh! If I had a cent for every time I have said this recently!) and slightly more practical and comfortable clothing with longevity as opposed to faddy trend pieces or ridiculous sparkly fripperies.
But I digress. Before you think I went home and cried myself to sleep and wallowed for three days, moaning to any poor soul who so happened to cross my path. I didn’t. I got over it and pushed it to the back of my mind (likewise, I am not painting myself as some brave warrior either...it’s a case of sunglasses for God’s sake, we’re not talking life and limbs here...). But what’s the ultimate point in this heart to heart? I guess I was disappointed; disheartened that narrow-mindedness and name calling can exist in the university, so called ‘free spirited’ environment. I didn’t know the girl. I never saw her again, couldn’t pick her out of a line – up, but her sheer intolerance of someone else’s appearance, disgusted me.
As I said earlier, I am by no means some discount version of Daphne Guinness or Susie Lau (who actually used to refer to the negative response her clothing would garner in public from time to time in the earlier days of her blog) when it comes to outrageous fashion choices...but if a pair of wacky sunglasses can instigate such a negative response...it certainly makes you consider that sometimes stepping out in bizarre or even just slightly ‘out there’ clothing is a brave move all in its own right.
PS. I can’t actually wear the sunglasses in question anymore as they were very cheap (Five euro at a festival if we're talking specifics here!) and are now peeling. I am on the look-out for proper pair of cat - eyes though!