People like to take my picture. I've learned to live with it. It's this amusing thing amongst a bunch of my friends and I. Even my partner will give me that knowing look and then point out someone who looks like they are building up the courage to ask to take my picture. It's odd. I'm yet to figure out why it happens.
Today while checking out the steam trains for Ballarat Heritage Weekend, I got my partner to take some photos of me (I love steam trains). While we were snapping away, people began to stand behind my partner and take pictures too. This happened last year to mum as she was taking pictures as well, so I was much less surprised when it happened this year. Aside from it being a little embarrassing it's also fascinating to watch how it happens. While we were taking one of the photos, there was a chap hovering nearby and I wondered if he was going to ask to have a photo with me, when he hurried forward into our photo and kind of shouted 'what era is that dress from?' It was reminiscent of Ron Weasley and the shouting at Fleur Delacour about the Yule Ball.
I wasn't sure how to respond to this, so I just said tentatively 'now'. He didn't seem to understand what I was saying, possibly because it wasn't the answer he was expecting. So, he asked me again and I repeated myself, then I clarified that I had bought it the week before. So then he clarified (sort of) his question and asked what era it was inspired by, which I thought was a really complicated question especially when considering type of fabric, collar, colours, length and cut of skirt... So I just suggested that it was inspired by current fashion trends which take influence from many eras. He then announced to me that it looked like it was from the 1900s.
I took his thoughts on board and then offered that as it doesn't have a bustle (among other distinct characteristics), the 1900s might not be what he's thinking of. The man then asked where I bought the dress, and I shrugged and said China, because I bought it online and I really don't know what country it came from. He then said 'Oh' and gave this knowing nod, as though what I had said was very critical information. Then he said 'was it designed in Australia?' I responded that it wasn't and he nodded with even more certainty and said 'pity' in a very knowing voice.
After this last exchange, he walked away.
I am not sure what had just happened, but in summary, I think I really disappointed a random - and clearly unqualified - stranger by wearing a dress that wasn't designed in Australia, a benchmark that he himself was (through quick visual assessment) obviously unable to attain. This is all beside the point because it was very strange that my visual presentation and shopping habits were up for discussion, opinion and condemnation, by someone who gave no justification for the validity of their opinion. Even if he had attempted to give validity, it's my body, it's my persona, it's my clothing, it's my presentation, so that automatically makes any attempt at justification invalid. Just because a lady wears clothes, or seems to care about her appearance, does not mean that she is up for discussion about her appearance, her shopping habits, or what economy she supports. It's like telling someone who's enjoying a chicken sandwich that it's a pity there's chicken in it because you're vegetarian, and then leaving them perplexed to wonder why a random stranger would feel the need to interrupt their lunch to care only about their shortcomings. I'd like to defer to one of my favourite quotes here with 'my body is not a democracy. It is an empire and I am its dictator. You do not get a vote. There will be no coup d'atat. Rebel forces will not overthrow me. I am in charge of it forever.' Quote and artwork by the spiffing Teafly.
Look at this lady below. What do we know about her? She's wearing a hat. It's unlike any hat I've seen recently. Let's point out to her that it's clearly not part of the established status quo of society and that she should probably pull into line.
Or alternatively, let's shut our pie hole. Let's also take a moment to appreciate the individual snapshots of humanity we are given when we encounter strangers when we just let them be.
Dress: Blue Lapel Vintage Bow Buttons Dress from SheInside
Shoes: Frolic by Foot Wedge from ModCloth
Timepiece: Daniel Wellington
Location: Ballarat Railway Station