Real Friends Don’t Slut-Shame Their Friends For The Way They Dress


Courtesy of Evelyn Martinez

I have a question for you. Have you ever been so astounded by the words spewing from someone’s mouth all you could do was stare?

I ask because I found an old shirt in my closet today, black, long-sleeved, low-cut, one I wore as a uniform when I used to deal cards. The shirt jogged a few memories. Namely, the last day I wore it, and my “friend” Mark told me I “dressed like a slut.”

And I want to talk about why that word pissed me off.

Maybe I’m a rarity, but I don’t care what people wear. Please tell me I’m not alone because judging someone for the clothes on their back is crazy.

When I dealt bar blackjack, my boss let us wear whatever we wanted (within reason). These dress-code standards aren’t the norm, of course. I worked in the night-life industry. There’s a time and place for certain kinds of dress. But my employer understood the fundamental concept that a woman’s wardrobe doesn’t impede the quality of her work. And I say “woman” because how often do you see men get judged for what they wear? Prove me wrong, please. I’ve never seen it happen.

But anyway, back to the slut-shaming.

“You dress like a slut and this is a kid’s show.”

The first time Mark saw me “like that,” as he put it, he’d hired me to play the flute and piccolo for a pit orchestra. He came to drop off the music during my shift at the bar.

When Mark found me, he took one look at my shirt, a simple black tee with the top button undone for comfort, and pursed his lips before moving toward me.

At the time, I thought the face was due to the nerves of meeting a stranger. I couldn’t imagine someone would have a problem with a shirt.

The look wasn’t because he thought I was cute, either. I knew “Wolfy Eyes” when I saw them. (Also, Mark liked men).

No, looking back now, the glance was distasteful. He wore the same stank the next time he visited me at the bar with his bad-tempered boyfriend who’d signed up for a card tournament. This time, though, he’d attached his unwanted and unnecessary opinion.

Mark and I had actually become good friends when he decided to open his mouth and be ridiculous. What’s funny is one of the reasons I wasted my break time was for him to approve the dress I wanted to buy for the show. I was concerned about the tattoos on my arms showing, but Mark had other worries.

When I handed Mark my cell-phone, he skimmed the photo and told me, as he sipped at his beer, “Yeah, the dress is fine. Thank God. We need to get you more conservative clothes. You dress like a slut and this is a kid’s show.”

You dress like a slut and this is a kid’s show.

WTF?

Mark’s words were so dry, so matter-of-fact, there was no room to mistake them as a joke or “sass.” When he noticed my eyes widen, he added the salt: “I can say that. I’m gay.”

Young women are dying because of slut-shaming.

Courtesy of Evelyn Martinez

Why is slut-shaming still even a thing?

The entire point of women’s suffrage was to earn basic human rights. That includes the ability to express ourselves the way we want, like everyone else, doesn’t it?

Am I missing something?

I’m not positive how or why a top I got from TJ Maxx could set someone into a tizzy. Then again, there are girls in schools sent to the office for “distracting clothing.” It happens enough students are now staging walkouts, movements.

Young women are even dying because of how people throw around these harmful words.

Clothing is clothing — and opinions, when unkind, should stay behind your teeth. I didn’t talk about Mark’s “stylish” haircut he thought hid his receding hair-line, or anything else about the way he looked. I’ve been called a few things over the years. But it’s my choice to wear what I want as much as it was his. And I was taught unless someone’s in trouble, mind your business.

Can we also talk about how Mark used the “I’m gay” card to get through the gate? Why do people do this? To anyone who thinks this is an acceptable way to be — no, it’s not okay.

Using this backward logic, I could’ve told Mark he should probably stop being such a man-whore. And I could say that because I’m bisexual — part of the team.

No. Life does not work like this. Normal, good people don’t work like this. Gay or not, there’s no excuse for being a straight jerk.

He wore me down with his “concern.”

I wore the dress on opening night as planned, pretending not to notice the way Mark scanned me when the pianist complimented my dress. Then he nodded and went on rummaging through his libretto. The show’s entire run, Mark watched me.

We never talked about what he’d said at the bar. At the time, I’d thought, “Wow, rude,” and let it slide because he had a lot of good in his heart. But constantly feeling as if you have to look and be a certain way to please people — that’s not friendship. And I realized this the very last time he ever visited me at work with another gig.

When Mark handed me the music binder, he gestured to my uniform top. It was a simple company t-shirt with the neck-line cut to rest on my shoulders. Boss approved. Not a big deal.

“We’re going to be touring a lot of churches, and sweetheart, you’re just never appropriate. I worried about even giving you the job but I don’t know anyone else who can play the music.”

The best part is he said this as another dealer walked by with the exact same shirt. In fact, I’d jacked the idea from her.

I remember I didn’t say anything this time around, either. Mark didn’t stop picking at me here and there during the tour. Not even after we did eventually talk about him not focusing on saving my slutty soul when he, at last, wore me down with his “concern.” I did at least give him that chance — I gave it a few times too many, actually.

But eventually I detached from Mark. And by detached, I mean I straight-up ghosted his ass. It might not the best way to say good-bye, but negativity has a way of pushing you to your limit. And Mark’s negativity became a lot. A lot.

“I’m trying to help you,” he’d told me, but that’s the entire point.

Let people be people. That’s basic courtesy.

Women don’t need help being “acceptable.” We’re aware of what we look, act, sound like — we’re all good, thanks.

A woman could strip down to nothing and go about her life fine. Anyone can. We’ll be the same person — so why is the world so involved with what women do? Let people be people. That’s basic courtesy.

Also, if you can’t be yourself around someone, at times, you have to keep moving, even if it means losing a friend. Mark still tries to talk to me, but it’s best we’re not friends anymore.

If we ever went out again, you best believe I’d dress in my “slut shirt,” and I know how sensitive he is.





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