27 January 2007

Re-thinking protester chic

I know it's Saturday and you're excited to have such an unseasonably warm day on which to protest the Iraq War, but do you really think wearing all-purpose athletic sandals, pleated khaki shorts, and a crocheted poncho while hoisting a "Bush is a Motherfu**er" sign above your head is the most effective way of ushering in change?

My father taught me at a young age that no matter how smart, personable, and qualified I was, if I showed up to a job interview with my shirt untucked and my hair unbrushed, I should not only expect to but should walk away empty handed.

"Like it or not," he would tell me, "appearance makes the difference."

If that is true (and I believe it is), how come not a single one of the protesters I saw roaming around Washington today didn't try to look a little, well, more respectable?

These individuals invaded DC in order to shake new life into the anti-war movement. They came to be loud and in-the-faces of this city's most influential political figures. They came here at the very least to be taken seriously.

From where I stand, if I had come all the way from Rhode Island on a bus, I would do everything in my power to look and act legitimately concerned with my cause. I would not only be informed, act graciously, talk articulately, and carry a profanity-free sign, but I would also not wear a tie-dye hoody, not rub patchouli oil in my hair, and not carry my belongings in a denim fannypack. In essence, I would not look like the typical protester most people - even those who support my cause - tend to roll their eyes at.

My main point is this: we wear peeptoes to feel powerful at work and we wear cute silk tops to feel confident on weekend nights out -- why not apply some of this logic to our protest wardrobe? Even if you aren't the type of person to care about your appearance, was there ever a cause more deserving of eyelash-curler pinches and all-day four-inch heel discomfort than a war protest?

And if I might digress for my last thought, let's let war-hater and legwarmer-lover Jane Fonda serve as a sobering reminder of why a gentle exfoliation and daily facial moisturizing routine is so important. So very important.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Excellent points. But I am afraid transforming protestor grunge into protestor chic is a lost cause.

As for your take on La Fonda--meeooww!