Why I Second-Guess Wearing That Sundress

IMG_3831Here’s a fact: In Los Angeles, it gets hot.

We are lucky to not have the lip-sweat that comes with New York humidity, but it’s still brutal. After four summers of experiencing this weather, I have acquired quite the collection of thin sundresses and skirts that run the risk of flying up and fulfilling my Marilyn Monroe fantasy (hey, it keeps me from heat exhaustion). Usually this amount of cute, summer clothing would make any girl feel spectacular…

…but for me, it doesn’t. Here’s why.

Where I work in Los Angeles looks like every other half-industrial, half-suburban area in the county. What makes it unique is my company is split into two buildings that are across a busy road from each other. Most of the employees walk between the buildings (due to insufficient parking), but most of them enjoy it. Me included.

What I don’t enjoy, is getting catcalled, stared, or honked at 80% of the time I take my peaceful stroll from building to building.

What I don’t enjoy, is hearing about a female coworker getting harassed by a car of men who tried following her back to one of the buildings. In broad daylight.

What I don’t enjoy, is worrying about said car of men next time I have to take a stroll.

That is why I second-guess what I wear, every day, to work.

Every morning, I check my weather app. Lately the temperature has been running between 80-100 degrees (I know, it’s a tough life out here). I realize the right side of my closet is all heavy items — jeans, sweaters, collared shirts. These won’t cut it. Sweat stains will totally show within the first hour. It’s inevitable I must choose something from the left side, which is filled with bright colors and stretchy materials that shape my figure nicely while hinting a feminine mystique. Bright colors that are great for attracting whistles and hollers from passing cars. Heels that make a girl feel good good enough for perverted eyes to forget they’re mentally fucking a real person, and she can tell. So before I commit to an outfit, I ask myself the deciding factor, “Do I have to walk to the other building today?”

I usually end up choosing jeans and a casual top. In 80 degree weather.

When I decide to wear something more revealing, I brace myself for how many dirty looks or middle fingers I’ll have to give if I need to walk outside. The heels usually remain, and that’s because if I have to kick the shit out of someone harassing me, I want to do it Death Proof style.

Despite my sass, it doesn’t erase how tense I get when these events happen. It sets off an uneasy alarm in my gut. The degradation lingers, sinks, and frankly, enrages me. No female deserves to feel grossed out by her own appearance because it’s “turning” men into animals (which, as you and I both know, is a crock of shit). It is a woman’s personal right to feel great in her own skin, 365 days a year, no matter how much is showing.

Do not mistake my point for, Woe is me, I am so beautiful that I attract all the men in the land! There’s a real problem here and society needs to recognize it. For months I have stopped myself from fully wearing what I want due to my experiences as a female in public, NOT because of the literal items I choose to wear. There’s no intent of nipple or buttcrack exposure in my wardrobe. I would simply like to expose enough skin to feel cool during the summer months without wondering when (it’s rarely “if”) I’ll get harassed or raped. Show me a man who second-guesses wearing jeans for fear that too many women will look at his ass. That worry, the one I feel every day, is nonexistent in the male gender.

I’ll give it to you straight. Men need to get behind this notion of not looking for too long (especially with their partners beside them). Men also need to teach their sons and underdeveloped buddies about respect and awareness — that you don’t squawk, gawk, or anything similar at women or create an environment that makes us feel unsafe. Until I get wrinkly and find no need to go outside because of my air-conditioned loft (in Napa), I will continue spreading awareness about these worries that solely exist in females. Guys, you build up your mind and muscles every day — use both to defend and protect us. You must find a bolder way to support my gender, because I am tired of doing this alone.

To my girls who have been in my heels, who have battled feeling good with equally feeling shitty once you step outside in a flattering outfit, I am with you. Keep looking beautiful. Keep demanding respect. Worry-free mornings will eventually come.

At least that’s what I tell myself.

  • Laura Pawlak
    May 15, 2014

    Your writing never ceases to amaze me. Another great topic and well-expressed article!

  • Jenny
    May 15, 2014


  • Rosemary Whittaker
    July 1, 2014

    Beautifully and eloquently put, with no hint self-pity to attract the critics. Just an articulate framing of something I for one hope to have taught my sons.

    • Nina
      July 1, 2014

      What a compliment. Thank you so much.

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