Social standards of dress

I wrote this for a discussion on an Internet forum, in response to a person saying that it was “disrespectful” to violate social standards about what clothing to wear in specific situations.

It's easy for you to say that if you have the ability to conform to those social standards of dress (either at all, or without going to prohibitively large amounts of effort).

For instance, “dressing up” is a (not entirely anymore, but still mostly) gender-segregated thing: There isn't a way “to dress up”, there's a way “to dress up male” and a way “to dress up female”. This causes me two problems:

  1. Since I'm agender, there is no possible way for me to dress up.
  2. Even if I could, I wouldn't, because I hate gendered conventions with a fiery passion.

I personally deal with this by never going to a venue that requires me to dress up, but not everybody has the luxury of being able to avoid such venues.

And to some people, “dress up” means “buy an extra garment you can ill afford”.

Or “Battle your depression into letting you spend lots of effort dealing with clothes and body stuff, using energy you would rather have spent on the actual task”.

Or “Spend all day trying to overcome social anxiety to go ask some social person to help you choose clothing because you cannot seem to understand what the conventions are”.

Or many other things.

My moral system says it's intolerable to pressure someone into doing the above things merely to make them look “nicer”, so I cannot agree with a set of conventions that does that. So maybe there are two options left:

  1. Pressure people to do that if it's easy for them, but don't pressure people if it's too hard for them;
  2. View clothing conventions as optional and don't pressure anybody to do them.

Option A is completely impossible, since you cannot actually know how hard it is for people (unless you're going to go around asking them all the time, which would be a total waste of effort and probably a form of pressure in itself). So, lacking any other choice that isn't repugnant to me, I take option B.

– Eli

Approximate readability: 12.24 (1605 characters, 369 words, 14 sentences, 4.35 characters per word, 26.36 words per sentence)