Tag Archives: Poverty

How to Take Control of Your Wardrobe

30 Dec

Young Lolwut would like to take charge of selecting his clothing, thus ending the playground taunts of “Your mother dresses you funny.” Hopefully, with a little advice, Lolwut can turn the tables on his schoolyard antagonists, pointing out that he dresses himself.

Mr. (?) Lolwut –

As far back as I can remember (which is sometimes just earlier in the day), children have always yearned for more personal freedom and parents have yearned for more time to themselves. There’s just no good way to “have your cake and eat it too,” as several parents have said while avoiding direct questions.

As my brother and I found out during our many long and mostly sunless years growing up in a secluded corner of the dimmest part of town, our parents would be hard-pressed to give up what little control they had in life by letting us make our own decisions.

When it came right down to it, selecting our clothing, toys, books, friends and major religion were the only choices they really had left to make. Several foreclosures had ensured that they ended up in the only housing that would take them. Many years of invisible toil in thankless jobs had left my father on the corporate treadmill. My mother most likely would have enjoyed selecting a different living room dirt floor pattern and husband, but a series of misunderstandings during a “duck and cover” drill during health class had left her impregnated.

So they chose everything for us. We first noticed this when we asked for new bicycles. We had seen some in the local circular and thought they’d be a keen way to escape the unlit sections of town, if only for an hour or two.

We were denied this request and given ambulatory contraptions cobbled together out of factory seconds from Josiah’s Handcart Shoppe and abandoned hoop skirts. While they were mobile enough to outpace walking, they left us full of groin-area bruises and splinters.

When we wished to change schools in hopes of reaching the nearly-mythical 6th grade, we were informed that our entire family had attended this underlit one-room schoolhouse and that we would too. When we indicated that the schoolhouse had not been staffed in over a year thanks to the new public school only minutes away by splintermobile, we were told that anything past 4th grade was simply “showing off” and would only make our ancestors jealous and perhaps homicidal.

Needless to say, choosing our own clothes was out of the question. Due to the extreme financial duress we endured, my brother and I were often subjected to hand-me-downs from various well-meaning relatives who apparently had the big hearts to give away their excess wardrobe but not the brain capacity to retain pertinent information such as our ages or sexes.

Consequently, my brother and I were usually adorned in bizarre combinations of flapper pencil skirts, vintage Levi Strauss undergarments, low-cut burlap sacks and various pieces of chainmail. We would do our best with what we had and hastily mount our rolling hoop skirts in a vain attempt to grasp at higher education before it was removed and taken nearly nine blocks away to what for all intents and purposes was another planet.

As we grew older, we lost our will to fight these various injustices and instead, became genteel doormats for our parents’ micromanagement. The day our draft cards were called was one of the happiest of our young lives. Finally we would have a chance to dress like others and perhaps even ride a splinterless, free-rolling vehicle.

Take heart, Lolwut. You’ve not much longer to endure this treatment. Sooner or later you’ll be free of their iron grasp and allowed to dress yourself however ridiculously you want, at least temporarily. By that time, however, you’ll most likely be looking for employment or higher education and will have to adjust your wilder apparel selections in order to retain both of these advantages.

To the future!

Clifton L. Tanager