Things That Should be Large

Greetings, StyleNation, from the midst of my research leave, almost end-of-term, and month 7.75 of my pregnancy. I should be large. And I am.

Also, something creepy but simultaneously kind of hilarious happened last week. I have little else to report, so I’m posting mostly to share about that.

First, the outfit I was wearing when it happened.

#1. Worn to an early evening professional event with cocktails

As my footwear choices are currently limited to those that can adjust to fit my stupid swollen preggo feet, I wore this.

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Pointe knit draped blazer: Grace Elements (new to blog, via Belk); Silver bib necklace: Stella and Dot (gifted by DSW, remixed; Black maternity tunic/t-shirt: Bump Maternity (via Motherhood Maternity – worst store name ever – new to blog); Brooch: made by an artist whose name I forget, from a series called Blue in the Face; Black pointe and pleather maternity leggings: Queen Mum (new to blog, via the new maternity boutique down the street); Boots: Khrio (new to blog, via adorably hip shoe boutique by my favourite coffee place downtown)

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I strode into the event and began mingling with students and colleagues. It was lovely because I mostly work from home right now and haven’t seen anyone all term.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a colleague from another institution doing a huge lean out of her conversation group, clearly eyeballing my preggo form. She had a big weird grin on her face was trying to catch my eye. (This particular colleague has been awkwardly and arrogantly hot and cold with me in ways I’ve found both embarrassing and annoying in the recent past. For example, despite our knowing each other for years and having attended (and hung out at) many of the same conferences, at a social event a number of months ago, she refused to acknowledge my efforts to catch her eye. Later, when I made a point of seeking her out to chat briefly, she acted like I was a ridiculous hanger-on with a major crush on her who was, her demeanour implied, embarrassing both of us in front of her new girlfriend. It was the dumbest.)

At last week’s event, she soon made her way over to me, grinning all the while, and we had the following creepy and kind of awesome exchange:

COLLEAGUE: Hey A-Dubs, you’re looking. . . . . you’re looking (pausing and grinning strangely). …

MOI: Uh, is “rotund” the word you’re looking for?

COLLEAGUE: Well, no. Uh (more pausing, grinning, and looking me up and down), it’s hard not to objectify pregnant women. I mean, don’t you find that?

MOI: (at a loss for words) Ummmm, what?

COLLEAGUE: No, I mean, it’s hard FOR ME not to objectify pregnant women. (more awkward and now openly lecherous grinning)

                              The M.C. begins her opening comments; everyone but us is now sitting down.

MOI: Hmmm. Well, more on this later. See you afterward. (I escape to my seat.)

                                         She left early, so we were both spared any further interactions like the above.

WTF? I suppose I spend so much time in feminist spaces that I’d forgotten what it’s like to be leered at in a professional setting. That said, I kind of love that she embarrassed herself in this manner.  I believe now, according to the grade-five-rules-of-mean-girl-relationships, I have the upper hand. And yet, blech. Also, this took place in a feminist space!

In other news, I wore a variation of the all-black-with-fat-feet-adjustable-boots outfit. I will show it to you via my exceptional photography.

#2. Worn to attend two research talks on campus

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All same as above, but switched out jacket for Black silk/cotton blend non-maternity slim sweater, and switched out bib necklace and pin for gifted and oft-remixed silver
Tiffany necklace

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Mostly, I am over being pregnant and cannot wait to carry this baby on the outside of my body. However, I have another two articles to complete and submit to journals, and at least two weeks worth of research-related administrata to take care of before this baby comes into the world. So probably I should just embrace the largeness and all associated crappy symptoms (carpal tunnel in both wrists, for example) for just a wee bit longer.

Finally, let’s finish today’s Sei Shōnagon-inspired list, shall we? I’ll do 5, and you add your ideas in the comments section:

Things that Should be Large

5. One’s publication record prior to the commencement of maternity leave

4. More of my boots

3. One’s capacity for compassion (currently, I excel instead at smugness)

2. One’s wine collection and accompanying glasses

1. One’s budget for the purchasing of baby supplies (srsly: holy maude)

What else should be large, StyleNation? 

What Does a Feminist Look Like?

The question about what signals feminism, sartorially, is something that’s at the heart of IPF’s “mission” and something that’s been discussed a good deal here (see, for instance, A-Dub’s post on the gendered assumptions associated with apparel). While the academic world might sometime treat the question of fashion as frivolous and unimportant, clothing is still often intimately associated with who “counts” as appropriately feminist, inside and outside the academy. Like Anne noted today, those of us who dress in a relatively conventional approximation of feminine can sometimes feel a slight disconnect between our personal values and beliefs and the way these are perceived by others. But, as A-Dubs notes, there’s something to be said for upending these assumptions.
For me, this vexed question of apparel gets at the heart of my early associations with feminism. Like a number of others (LHdM and Cynthia, for instance), I was raised by parents who would very much have classified themselves as feminists. However, what I named as “Feminism-with-a-capital-F” was characterized my mom and her friends at the time and their investment in white, middle-class, second wave feminism — particularly their adoption of the New Age-y rhetoric of goddess-related ritual and the rejection of “The Beauty Myth” (my sister rather hilariously once made a bathing suit for the naked lady (or sort of) on the cover of Germaine Greer’s The Female Eunuch). This seemed VERY unappealing to the young E-Jo who, even then, was disinterested in this level of earnestness. And if dressing in my mom’s acid-wash denim jumpsuit (well after the height of acid wash’s popularity) was what being a feminist looked like, even if I thought that equality between genders was self-evident and was happy to (unconsciously) reap the benefits gained by earlier generations of tireless crusaders, I was clearly NOT a feminist. It was only once I got to university and was made to read feminist and critical theory in a bunch of different classes that I began to realize that there existed a broader spectrum of feminisms and that this was about larger, systemic inequalities linked to all sorts of other things (I remember reading Gayle Rubin’s “The Traffic in Women: Notes on the ‘Political Economy’ of Sex” as a key moment).
Thus, despite the seeming frivolity of things like style blogs, I think there’s something quietly radical about what we’ve all embarked on here in our various ways: demonstrating the different ways of dressing like a feminist. While many of the privileges that underwrote my mom’s versions of feminism are replicated in the blog world (and the rest of the world, generally) and could stand to be more clearly interrogated, there’s a fantastic level of discussion about what style means and allows. Further, interactions with students (female and otherwise) act as a continual reminder of the work that needs to be done and, while I’m not always as up front about my feminism with them as others, I like to think that my clothes are performing an important pedagogical interruption to their assumptions about “what a feminist looks like.”
Tunic: Old Navy
Pants and belt: NY & Co.
Blue flats: Joe
Ring: gifted
Also, I wore pants and taught Virginia Woolf today. A reminder that so much of what both my students and I take for granted in our everyday lives is the direct result of feminist cultural and political action.

Faking It

Here at IPF, Eastern Division things have been predictably, though still somehow unexpectedly, crazy and blogging has been the first thing to go as I navigate my 3-course term, my renewal application, various (pretend-because-they-suck) grant applications, book proposal-writing, student whingeing, cat retaliation and all other manner of stupidness that makes me have to hit the ground running after Labour Day, even though I’m slow and out of shape.  It’s the same every year but I seem to have a very short memory.

This is all by way of a lame apology for not commenting on your blogs (which I’ve been faithfully reading) and for not posting current outfits today. Rest assured, I wore outfits these last two weeks, and I will post about them, but not today. Obviously I am brimming with sage fashion advice for the academic professional–cf. here, here, and here–but today I bring you a Public Service Announcement about fake pregnancy and irony.

Observe:

Top: thrifted for me by KellyBean
Pants: Franco Mirabelli
Jacket: Old Navy
Flats: now defunct, bought in Paris 
Beer: Guinness, Rickard’s Red & Rickard’s Red
Event: Hallowe’en
Bar Award: Best Beer Belly

As you may know by now, I have the same haircut as Mia Farrow in Rosemary’s Baby, which makes Rosemary an obvious choice for me for Hallowe’en.  Of course, only the most savvy film buffs understood my clearly obvious homage (I considered wearing a nightgown, but there was a lot of drinking and dancing and I felt that pants would be wise, mostly to save me from myself) and people just thought I was actually pregnant and debauched.

So here’s a word to the wise as we begin Autumn with a full moon and start to consider our sartorial fantasies for that most excellent of hols Hallowe’en.  Even though it is a holiday that demands you dress as you aren’t, do not assume that everyone is going to a) understand how clever and ironic you are about your haircut and b) assume you are not actually pregnant.  Seriously.  All night as I busted move after move on the dance floor, and I’ve got moves, people would come up to me with genuine concern for the health of my pseudo-baby and with advice about not-drinking-while-pregnant.  Including the bartender, who is actually not allowed by law to refuse service to me if I’m pregnant.  After a while, I started to court this by holding a friend’s cigarette and his pint (pictured).  I got to be all smug and dismissive of the men at a gay dance club who thought they knew my uterus.


Still.  Our bodies and our clothing counts.  If I ever needed a lesson in that, this was it and this gives me renewed, in this time of institutional pressure, commitment to our style blog.  Except I haven’t had any time to do outfit photos.  Or laundry and ironing so I look nice in outfit photos for you.  So what you see is what you get, StyleNation.

Have there been instances where you’ve been reminded that your body, and its clothing, is part of the public domain?  
Do you handle it by holding a cigarette and raising your eyebrow at the naysayers? 

Gender Performance & the Assumptions of Others (Again)

I am repeatedly fascinated and provoked by the assumptions those ‘outside’ of Women’s and Gender Studies make about those of us on the ‘inside.’ While my femme styling certainly results in the occasional frustrating provocation within this small branch of the academic world, I often get the sense that my performance of femininity also complicates non-WGS people’s responses to me when they find out what I do and where I do it.

Though I’ve considered doing so, I’ve not yet changed the way I dress, wear make-up, or style my hair to mitigate responses to my appearance that reflect stereotypical assumptions about how a feminist looks. Furthermore, as this blog surely demonstrates, with the exception of formal professional settings, I do not reign in (all of) my goofiness, wry sarcasm, or (what I consider to be) wit, in part because I like how these elements of my personality undermine stereotyped understandings of feminists as intensely serious, humourless people. Occasionally, however, despite my credentials, either or both of these choices result in my being underestimated, or treated with disrespect. 
 
I can’t go into detail in this public forum, but I will say that I was recently and rather obviously underestimated in this way in a casual meeting with new colleagues. I wasn’t meeting with students that day, so I came to campus in a trouser-jean-based ‘business casual’ ensemble. And now I wonder if I could have prevented this error through sartorial means.

I am thus inspired to up the profesh-factor in my attire for each and every day on campus this term. And we’ll just see if I can change certain people’s responses to me through clothing alone.

Today, for example, I’ve come to campus to work in my office all day. I’ve no meetings, and I don’t teach. But I’m wearing this:

Black microfibre dress: Tristan & Iseut
Charcoal cotton ruffle-front cardigan: Coin 1804 (via Winners)
Belt: Mexx
Bracelets & watch: remixed
Red leather boots: Miss Mooz (remixed)

Wonder Woman pose: preview of coming conference attractions

 (D-Med: I know. No arm. It’s gone into the light.)

Really, the boots are this colour:

 
OK, so this ensemble could still read as “casual,” but it’s comfortable and is not trouser jeans. It’s a start.

Do you use clothing and/or accessories to mitigate others’ negative assumptions about you?
 OR
Are you making any resolutions this fall?

Friend Friday: Want Fitness, Need Chips

Once again, In Professorial Fashion is participating in Katy of Modly Chic‘s thought-provoking “Friend Friday” discussion. This week, we’re discussing fitness and exercise. (Gah.) As usual, Katy’s questions are in bold below with my answers in (mostly) regular type directly after.

1. When you hear the word Fitness what do you think?
I think about how I want to be fit. And then I think of a list of guilt-inducing shoulds and wants: I should go to the gym more (or at all), I should not eat the crack chips. I want rock-hard abs, buns of steel, and non-jiggly arms; I want a personal trainer who drags me out of bed each morning and pushes me out for a run (gah. I hate running. Now I’m having a horrible running flashback, even though it’s an efficient and cheap way to burn calories).
What I really want, however, is to not talk about this anymore and go eat crack chips while sitting under a massive white sunshade here:

(This image is from Jeanne-Aelia’s lovely post earlier this month
entitled “T.G.I.F.: Pools With a Sea View” over at Through the French Eye of Design)

2. Do you have a workout routine? What’s your favorite way to workout?
This way:

(Check out Rinty the Crusher and I engaging in the sport of cottage-bobbing two short weeks ago.)
Just kidding. My real answers to the questions are “Yes.” and “Yoga” (the fast kind).
But my routine needs to be stepped up. I once said this to a friend whose job is helping companies and people work more efficiently. He said, “You schedule what you care about.” Obviously, I need to care more about yoga. It would be easier to do so in my fantasy alterna-life (a life that would also enable me to pay the hundreds of dollars Fotosearch wanted for an unmarked version of this image):

(Alterna-A-Dubs – minus her mane of hair – making yoga a priority.)

3. To you, what is the purpose of exercise?
Probably I answered this question more thoughtfully here (see point #5). Today, all I can think is “firm buns, abs of steel, non-jiggly arms.” Thanks to Sheila of Ephemera‘s workout tips, I have a workout strategy for achieving the latter of these goals, a strategy I have already employed once today and that I will just take a short break, now, to employ, again. . . . Ok. I’m back.
4. Do you think it is possible to be feminine and still workout?
Uh, yes! For example:

But maybe that depends how we’re defining feminine. Some of us talked about it a bit here (see the comments section, too).
Or maybe Feminist Hulk should (not) do this for us. (I must credit – and thank – the “Thursday Links” by the Interrobangs Anonymous posse for turning us on to the Ms. Interview with Feminist Hulk!)

5. What do you think about the people who are workout obsessed? (You know, those women at the gym who spend 4 hours working out and have more muscles than some men.)
I think if you’ve got the time, it turns you on, and it’s not connected to an eating disorder or any other debilitating conditions or practices, go to it. But if that’s your obsession, we’re probably not going to be best friends. Not because I judge you, but because I don’t want to give you opportunities to judge me.

And in case you’re judging me already, here is a calming sunset image taken by the A-Dubs-Hubs from our balcony last week.



**Special Message for Style Underdog during this, your el crappo week:
Big luv to you, SU. Escape to us here in the blogoverse whenever you can. Until then, take good care.**

Performing gender – and getting it wrong?

I’ve been thinking a LOT about how I perform gender at work of late. This is in part because of the aforementioned interaction with this term’s sexist student. But it’s also because as a “femme” straight woman in Women’s and Gender Studies, I sense, occasionally, that I don’t look like a feminist “should.” And this results in my being spoken to dismissively.

To be clear, my colleagues don’t speak to me this way. Sometimes I get this kind of treatment at academic conferences. And sometimes it happens in meetings outside of my home department.
More recently, a visiting scholar who is a well-known queer theorist spoke to me – or rather, over me – in that familiar dismissive tone. She didn’t like my response to one of her questions – and, frankly, I might word it differently if I had a do-over. But it wasn’t a stupid or naively liberalist point. And it wasn’t a response that should have resulted in her dismissing me as a “particular kind of North American liberal feminist.” As she spoke this phrase, she looked me up and down in a way that suggested that I LOOKED like THAT kind of (politically irrelant) person to her.
As noted above, this isn’t the first time I’ve been misinterpreted in this way. I’m left with the sense that if I continue to dress and look the way I do, I’ll have to fight harder to be taken seriously. So, do I change, or do I fight?
To date, I’ve chosen to fight harder. Because this feminist LOVES colouring her hair, playing with fashion, and accessorizing. Because when I’ve tried other costumes and self-representations, they’ve felt less authentic somehow. And I know we’re all performing gender in one way or another. However, this performance, the one I do now, is the one that – despite all the styling – is less work for me.
But maybe I should work harder. I’m not so naive as to believe that my relatively normative gender performance is natural. So maybe it’s appropriate to work against type, to consent less – and in less visible ways – to my own subordination (through high heels, for example) and/or objectification (through make-up & hair dye, for example) in culture. And maybe I should be modelling alternative gender performance/s for my students.
Or maybe, just maybe, my current performance does this already. I’m already here in the university, after all. And the authority of the institution as well as the quality of my work should reinforce my politics, shouldn’t it? Regardless of whether or not I’m objectified in the
classroom, the power of the institution I represent there demands that students listen when the object speaks. Furthermore, do my long hair, make-up, and high heels really undercut the positive endorsement by my peers of the research I’ve done and continue to pursue?
I’d love to hear what you think, internet. Because I’m not sure where I stand anymore.
Finally, here are two femme-y outfits I’ve worn this week. It’s finally spring, and it’s end-of-term, so I’ve been trying to use colour to keep students interested.
For the record: there’s no big white spot on this purple top. That’s a (creepy) trick of the light. The brown plaid pants are a favourite, but this may have been their last outing as they’re threadbare in too many areas now. But can you see the pinkish-red stripe among the black and tan? I love it.
black cardigan: Kenzie (remixed)
top: Ralph Lauren

necklace: Hudson’s Bay Co. (the purple circles are wooden – I had a close-up, but it was a horrible picture, so I’m not sharing it)
cami: Smart Set
pants: Della Spiga (via Winner’s)
shoes: Moda
This next ensemble is almost exclusively about the skirt because I LOVE it. I don’t know that the white blouse is the most exciting pairing, but it was worth a try. In the past, I’ve worn this skirt with a salmon ruffle-neck blouse, a denim blazer, bare legs, and 4-inch nude open-toe slingbacks. It’s too cold for bare legs right now, and the extra colour seemed like way too much work (plus, the white blouse was already ironed – & that detail counts for a LOT at 7am).
p.s. ‘Any suggestions for other combinations with this skirt? I’m having problems coming up with ideas and could use some help!
blouse: Esprit

necklace: gifted
skirt: Anthropologie
hose: silks
(brown) shoes: Clarks (I know they require a close-up – but I didn’t take one, yet. And I’m too lazy to get out of bed to do it. I’ll try to do it tomorrow.)

Red Week in a Dark Month

Huzzah! Another week survived! With an emphasis on the “survived,” this week. Whilst I wait to hear from Dorky Medievalist about her epic day, I thought I might check in with you, internet, to see how you fared this second-last week of the dark month of March. So, how did it go?

My own week was trying. In addition to my end-of-term exhaustion and a series of meetings with students who are either excited or panicking about their final papers, I had another an exchange/incident with a student that has left me feeling angry and a tad rattled.

I had a student follow me back to my office, block my office door once inside, refuse to sit down, and loudly insist that concessions be made in order for him to pass a course he’s shown little interest to this point in passing. He left when it became clear that I could/would not make the concessions he demanded, but not before repeating his demands a number of different ways and in increasingly loud tones.

During the exchange, I was angry, but, I think, clear and professional. Afterward, I was angry and shaken. Not because I’m afraid of this student; he’s really just a more violent version of the usual subset of students I see this time of year: he’s realized that he needs this writing credit, and he’s trying to find someone else to blame for having screwed the pooch all term. I was angry because, for reasons related to some of the ideas he’s expressed in his writing this term, I feel fairly certain he wouldn’t have acted this way with a male professor. And I suspect that gender has a LOT to do with why he tried to intimidate me this way.

I won’t be meeting with him alone in my office, again, of course. So, really, the problem ends there. Or it should. But as I was walking to my car today, I found myself thinking how lucky it was that I don’t teach at night. And then I was furious. I can’t help but ruminate on how unfair it is that his inability to manage his time or take my course seriously has resulted in my living in fear of being attacked.

So, really, I still hate March. And I hate it just a little bit more this year.

In more appropriate blog-related news, red leather items helped me survive the week. These boots are surprisingly comfortable, and I love building outfits that feature them. I would have preferred to wear my black 3/4-sleeve cardigan, but it’s in the wash. Flowers were my only option:
Dress: FYLO Nylon
Cardigan: Red
Camisole: H&M
Tights:
Hue
Boots: Miss Mooz
Watch: Timex (it was my grandfather’s)

And this red skirt rustles when I walk, is smooth and professional, and is not nearly as shiny as this picture makes it look. It’s also a LOT of skirt, so I try to keep everything else basic. Sadly, this black cashmere-mix sweater is on its last legs. It’s starting to get wavy around the bottom and a tad threadbare under the arms. I’ve not let it go, yet, because it’s such a perfect basic piece and I can’t find another like it. ‘Any suggestions? And finally, the shoes aren’t shown here since I forgot them under my desk in my office. ‘Good thing this guy decided to do a cameo appearance.

Sweater: Gap
Skirt: Danier (via Value Village 8 years ago)
Hose: Hue (I’m a Hue addict, in case you’ve not noticed, yet)
Watch: Timex (remixed)
Dog: Fuzzy Roommate (the guy who won’t hold still when I actually want him in the shot)