We’ve all heard of the law of unintended consequences. You do something to get result A, result B comes along for the ride. I spent a few weeks doing “focused freewriting” and suddenly noticed that my Sudoku skills had made a major leap forward. I might not have made the connection except that the writing guide I was using mentioned that surprising gains in other areas was a common phenomenon. Recently I’ve realized that my training in BJJ has had a rather interesting, if incongruous, unintended consequence: I’ve started to explore being girly.
The Back Story
I have never been what you’d call a girly girl. At the age of 3, I proclaimed there would be no more ruffled panties – I didn’t like how they made my pants bunch up. (Side note: This is also the first known example of my propensity to obsess about the “lines” of an outfit.) I also, sometime between 3 and teenage aged years, put a firm kibosh on the color pink. I’m sure it was present in the garish clash of neon colors in some early 90s gear. But I cannot recall a time when I ever considered or allowed it as a prominent feature.
As a teenager and young 20-something, I played around with funky and sometimes genuinely tiny clothing. But still no ruffles, still no pink. I was primarily a jeans and t-shirt girl who swapped to tank tops or halter tops and short shorts in summer. Skirts were avoided because I wasn’t terribly good at being ladylike but didn’t feel like flashing people either. I would wear dresses on special occasions or as costumes.
Fast forward to full-fledged adulthood. I spent most of my first year or so in a full time job wearing dress pants and button down tops. As soon the dress code relaxed, I was wearing khakis, cords, sweaters, and long sleeved cotton v-necks that I figured counted as “blouses.” And that was my pattern for each job. Start with dress slacks until I’d felt things out. Then dress as casually as possible, as close to jeans and t-shirts as “business casual” allowed. My aversion to pink and ruffles still remained. Years ago, I bought an argyle sweater with thin lines of pink on it when my ex-husband “challenged” me to try it. At one point when I was still in the dressy stage at a job, I bought a couple of pencil skirts to mix it up. They looked good on me and were long enough to avoid the flashing issue, so I thought they’d work. They ended up shoved in the back of the closet and forgotten. Since my divorce (and more limited closet space) my dress slacks and those skirts have been riding around in a plastic bag. They are too big for me now and I go back and forth on whether to have them altered.
BJJ has helped me become both more and less aware of my body. I’m more aware of what I’m doing with my body. I’m less self-conscious about who sees. It is counter-intuitive that it would help me dress up if I don’t care who sees me. But I’ve found a freedom in that balance of awareness and lack of awareness. After my first two Totes, I decided to get a little more playful and tried a dress. And I loved it. Since then, there has been 1 or more dresses in every tote I’ve ordered. And I’ve enjoyed wearing nearly all of them. (Note to my newfound girly self, stripes changing direction need to land in a very particular place or you just look weird!) Most have been tight in the arms and some have been just skirting the length of office-appropriate. It’s still been fun to wear them. I have had to invest in some warmer “tights” so I don’t freeze my cute little ass right off. It was (is?) still winter in Maine, after all.
The real break through, so to speak, was when I ordered a predominantly pink dress in my tote. That’s right, pink. Purple stripes but the stand out color was absolutely pink. A playful cotton candy colored pink. And just like that very first dress I tried, I was surprised by how much I loved it. It was deliciously soft, nicely cut, and incredibly flattering. I sent it back but I adored it so much, I rented it a second time and bought it. That’s right, all in, I own a pink thing. And it’s a dress. And it requires a little decorum because it’s just barely knee length with a small slit. My friend Kaetlyn told me the dress looked like the Cheshire Cat. When I wear the dress, I feel like my smile is just as wide.
Of course this doesn’t mean I’m whole hog on the pink bandwagon. You won’t catch me in a pink gi. I won’t be sporting “it’s the female version because we added pink” outerwear or camo. I won’t buy pink princess clothes for baby shower. But I’ve decided that pink is acceptable in doses. Wearing it does not automatically put me in some “typical girl/woman” category.
The freedom I’ve found in BJJ has let me play with my image. I can be sexy, playful, and powerful all at once. I’m starting to transform myself and adopt a new image. I have been Princess Fuck You, not Princess Charming, for several years. Now I’m upping my PFY game. Adding a little something to the Princess without sacrificing any of the attitude.
Sexy dresses paired with gnarly bruises.
Not pretty in pink, gritty in pink.