Why #DressLikeAWoman kicked me in the stomach.

I don’t follow the news anymore because I know that anything important will show up on Twitter within a few minutes.

Last week, I noticed #DressLikeAWoman showing up in my feed. Assuming it had something to do with Trump, I googled it and discovered that some anonymous aide had told a news outlet that the president requires the females on his staff to “dress like a woman.”

Generally, I don’t jump on bandwagons of any sort – not for political reasons; its just not my personality – but this one stung. Like someone had just told me I wasn’t pretty enough to be on the cheerleading squad. (Oh how high school stays with us forever).

While most people used the hashtag to post photos of women dressed in fatigues or spacesuits or surgical scrubs, I couldn’t shake the feeling that this was about more than the jobs women do; it was one more example of how society tells us how we should feel about ourselves.

One of the reasons this hit me so personally is that several of my best friends are strong, brilliant women who also happen to spend an hour every morning styling their hair, picking out their wardrobe for the day, then accessorizing it with a wide hammered cuff and a stylish kitten pump.

They don’t do this because they’re told to; they do it because it gives them joy and that’s who they are. And their ability to walk in high heels makes me gawk in admiration.

I wear the same thing every day. I have 6 pairs of Chico’s Juliet pants and a collection of black sweaters. I have three pairs of winter shoes and four pair of summer shoes – all of them Danskos – because I can’t walk in high heels without tripping. I keep one dress in the back of my closet in case of emergencies. It takes me two minutes to get dressed every day.

When the three of us go out, I feel like Agnes Gooch schlepping behind Mame Dennis and Vera Charles.

Now I have come to terms with this…mostly. But that hashtag — when combined with Trump’s well-known views on women — reminded me, again, how I have been brainwashed to think that my value lies only in how I look.

And while age has brought perspective and wisdom and a stick-it-to-the-man attitude, the little girl inside of me can still be hurt by someone telling me I’m not pretty.

And I hate that.

So I got angry. “Jesus in the temple” angry. Righteously angry. Angry that the establishment decides what a woman should look like and angry that I so easily internalize it.

Righteous anger leads to action (or at least it should), and the act of doing the right thing is sometimes the only power we have.

Maybe (probably) my lone voice will not change things, but I can do the right thing. I am obligated to (because that’s what deontological ethics is). So I blog, and vlog, and sing Pat Benatar’s “Invincible” in my head.

I express myself my way — with a punk haircut and hand-painted gold clogs.

I #DressLikeAWoman. And in my own small part of the universe, I claim victory.

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