On route to a bar with some girls a few weeks back, I heard a subtle comment that men would walk the other way if they saw a woman wearing bulky, black combat boots. I imaged the scene in my head and looked down at my feet. I was wearing those exact boots.
Was this girl trying to tell me my fashion choices were repulsive?
I overlooked the comment until later in the evening when a man at the bar stopped me to flirtatiously tell me he liked my boots. His comment may not have been loaded, but I doubted his authenticity because of the girl's passive aggressive remark earlier.
Her words frustrated me like the collar of my sweater making me itch. I have been told before to dress more revealing when going out for drinks or events, but I always lead with my desire to be comfortable. I wear stylish, comfortable outfits everywhere, so going out to a bar on a Friday night was no exception.
I wore dark-washed jeans, a textured black sweater, and my polished man repeller boots.
I have often felt pressured to dress up more, and that night was no exception, but the pressure always comes from other women's objectification and never from a desire to impress men.
I heard a few more negative comments from the girls throughout the evening, such as the unwelcomed observation that guys don't enjoy talking to me because of the way I dress.
When did we establish that guys didn't talk to me because I wore a sweater in 45-degree weather? And was she planning on telling that to the few guys at the bar that did try chatting me up that evening?
My ego has its vices, but I don't feel a boost in my confidence when I verbally attack another woman. I don't feel my acne shrink or my dating pool flood when I negatively comment on another girl's hair or outfit.
I tried to dismiss these comments as a projection of their own self-esteem challenges. I couldn't understand why our friendships were so toxic that evening. Were they putting me down as a way to eliminate any competition for guys that night? I am not dating, so I wasn't at the bar to talk to guys, and yet my decision not to flirt was considered a negative consequence of my outfit.
My personality was also criticized, and I was called too innocent for my age. These comments were said by the sugary voices of friends.
As a feminist, I don't view my girlfriends as competition in my life. I struggle with self-comparison to my fellow ladies, but I know that no woman will strut into my life to steal my crown or my boyfriend.
The comments at the bar were not spoken out of friendship but rather passive-aggressive bullying. Their words corrupted the foundation of our friendships and my self-esteem, yet it also reinforced the pure qualities I seek in my female friendships.
I want friends who help build me up and celebrate my growth. My friends help weed out my insecurities instead of planting more seeds, like those girls from the bar sowed. They can rock different fashion trends, but true girlfriends never put me down for my own style, especially my boots.