Friday, October 20, 2006

One dress; three comments. Now I like to consider myself a thoughtful dresser. Thoughtful, because I feel generally humiliated by my physical appearance and spend a lot of time brooding over how I can camouflage my body so nobody realises how bad it looks. A while ago I was excited by a particular style of dress that has an empire line, so I could wear tights without worrying about them cutting in, and it would skim right over the fat roll on my stomach. I have three dresses in this style, which I wear a lot as pinafores.

But the most notorious is this one. By now you can get it at Supre in about a trillion colours and prints, but back when I bought it, it only came in grey and white. I searched the internet for a picture of it but couldn't find one, so you are going to have to make do with this drawing I just did.

It's made of t-shirt material so it's pretty comfy. And it is so low-cut (the edge of the bodice sits on my nipples) that you can't wear it without another top underneath (unless you're Emah, who owns the same dress). Yesterday I was wearing it with a pink blouse with short puffed sleeves, a pink pearl necklace, and round-toed pink canvas slip-ons with black spots. That's the thing that makes this dress so seductive. I don't have to worry about the length or the tightness of the top worn underneath, so I can wear it even with tops that I feel self-conscious about wearing on their own. So I can put together nice coherent outfits with jaunty colour combinations, and I can fancy that I look quite good.

But I don't look good. I look fucking pregnant. My mother loves to remind me of this, as in my hapless way, I always seem to be wearing the dress on days when she sees me. "Oh Melissa! It's so unflattering!" Thanks maman; I love you too.

I am now so ashamed of the way I look in it that I tend to save it for days when I don't have any social events planned; when I'm just going to the office to work alone, and then just going home afterwards. Or on Sundays, which I have designated my fashion downtime. It is the dress equivalent of tracky dacks. I was really annoyed last week when we were manning the Mobile Projection Unit for Digital Fringe, and I had to appear on live internet streamed video in this retarded ugly dress. But anyway.

Comment One. Location: corner Elgin and Lygon Streets, number 1 tram. Time: 9:10am. I get on the tram and my gaze meets that of two chicks around my age. They look at me in a friendly and almost expectant way that makes me wonder if I have met them. I smile and look away, hanging from one of the straps. I overhear one say to the other, "Cute dress." I feel happy - maybe it's not a maternity smock after all!

Comment Two. Location: Royal Parade, number 19 tram. Time: 6:20pm. I get on the crowded peak-hour tram, reading my book, and find a spot to stand. A girl perhaps a little younger than me, who looks like she might be an international student, taps me tentatively on the arm and asks if I'd like a seat. I am mortified that she thinks I am pregnant and say stiffly, "No thanks, I'm happy standing." I am filled with shame for the entire duration of the trip and brood vengefully on how I could have made her just as embarrassed.

Comment Three. Location: Rathdowne Street, outside the Sev. Time: around 11pm. I am walking home and see a guy loitering on the pavement. My instinct is to keep my head down and not make eye contact. He shouts after me, "Hey, nice dress!" I can't work out if he's being sarcastic or trying to compliment me. Either way, I stab the pedestrian crossing button at Princes Street about a thousand times before hurrying across against the lights.

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