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03/21/2018 13:36 EDT | Updated 03/21/2018 13:37 EDT

I'll Never Let A Man In My Life Tell Me What To Wear Again

When you're taught to view a relationship as an indicator of your value, you conform to gender norms out of fear, even if you don't agree.

There's a unique level of entitlement in the question, "Would you let your girl go out like that?"

I see this question accompanying photos of women across social media (that tweet about Cardi B in the burgundy bustier comes to mind) and while I think it's weird and controlling, it's a pretty normalized aspect of dating culture. From personal experience, nothing puts a damper on heterosexual romance like the realization that it comes with an expectation of modesty.

Do not accommodate men who seek to dictate what you wear

When I was 16, my boyfriend saw me in green cargo shorts for the first time, dragged a hand across my thigh and said, "These are just for me from now on, OK?"

I honestly thought I'd misheard him, because that sounds crazy AF. Imagine telling someone they can't wear their own clothes? But I wanted to make him happy, so I complied, and when we broke up much later, I swore I would never accommodate someone like that again. Only I did. A few years later, I was trying to explain to my new boyfriend, through tears, why I should be allowed to wear what I wanted.

Cognitive dissonance is real.

When you're taught to view a relationship as an indicator of your value, you conform to gender norms out of fear, even if you don't agree. So sure, there's this expectation that comes from your partner, but when it's reinforced by people outside of your relationship, it's even harder to rebel.

When I wear a thotfit in the club, it reflects that I disagree with the repression of female sexuality.

I kept hearing, "No man wants to date someone who dresses like she doesn't respect herself," and I understood that women who wore what they wanted weren't seen as deserving of partnership or respect. I thought it was a small sacrifice to make if I played by society's rules to be loved and celebrated.

But it's actually a large-ass sacrifice. First of all, half the outfits my boyfriends had a problem with were regular items: high-waisted denim shorts, tops that I didn't wear with a bra so you could tell, in a shocking turn of events, that I was the owner of two nipples. Even when I thought I was dressing modestly, it was impossible to follow some arbitrary rubric for respectability that existed only in their brains.

It was annoying to show up in an outfit and receive attitude for it, but infantilizing to text them constantly for approval.

I can both respect myself and wear short shorts

It's also important to note that clothing, particularly for women, is political. My wardrobe choices are symbolic of my beliefs. When I wear short shorts in the summer, I'm saying my desire for comfort in the heat supersedes what other people think of me.

When I wear a thotfit in the club, it reflects that I disagree with the repression of female sexuality. People will look at what I wear and call me dumb, insecure, slutty, worthless, but there is a power in dressing however I want in spite of their judgement. But by prioritizing my partner in my self-expression, the operative word of which is "self," I was automatically disempowering myself.

The double standard for modesty is often housed in the misconception that women who express their sexuality are seeking attention. I assume the ladder of thinking goes something like this: I dress like a slut for the satisfaction of other men wanting me, then I scope out my options, and then I cheat. Unfortunately, this incorrectly assumes that I'm motivated to dress for anyone other than myself, my goal is always to cheat and the general desire for recognition is a moral failing.

Literally all human beings want attention, and if you think otherwise, then stop posting on your social media accounts, never speak unless spoken to and abstain from dyeing your hair because guess what you're seeking via those behaviours? About as much attention as I am when I put on a crop top.

I dress to make myself feel good, but I'm allowed to enjoy that other people might agree.

The sad truth is: the desire to police how women dress isn't actually about attention. If it was, modest women would be immunized from getting attention from random strangers, which only happens in our wildest dreams. Instead, the expectation of modesty placed on female partners is about subjugation and ownership, neither of which have a place in a healthy relationship.

More from HuffPost Canada:

Women are autonomous beings and we deserve the kind of love that treats us as such. So, if a man feels entitled to an opinion on how his girl dresses, I'm running in the opposite direction. I hope more women follow suit.

This article was originally published on Bellesa.co

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