5.20.2010

Maybe its Because I never had a Barbie!

Robin Hunter's DKC talk last night was the cautionary tale of feeling inadequate in the face of unrealistic ideals of womanhood portrayed in the media. The notion being that it all starts in childhood playing at dressing the iconic fashion doll with the impossible measurements.

(It made me wonder about today's girls, playing as they do with dolls like Bratz - still with the ridiculous bodies but now with the added features of giant heads, eyes and feet! Just what are they going to grow up wanting their bodies to look like?)

Anyway, back to the DKC - I was not able to raise my hand to indicate girlhood ownership of a Barbie.  Not that I didn't want one - I just never had one. I had, "instead" (my parent's word, not mine - clearly when it came to Barbie there was no "instead" - you either had Barbie or you didn't. I was never invited over to another girl's house to play "dolls", only  to play "Barbies" and I only ever owned a flat footed and chested doll named "Pepper".) Anyway, you get the idea - I never played at fashion.

Or maybe I did, depending on your view on when "childhood' ends and what constitutes "play" because when I was 10 I learned to sew my own clothes. It was a matter of financial necessity mixed with my mother's belief sewing was a life skill. My first project was from a Simplicity pattern. It was a deep orange jumper in a substantial broadcloth. It had a contrasting lined bodice complete with darts, a gathered empire waist, working buttons at the shoulders and patch pockets with rounded bottoms - decoratively top stitched around the curves of course.  The matching blouse was in orange, yellow and white gauze-like Georgette in an all over floral print. It had an invisible zipper, gathered cuffs in a sewn in casing and an interfaced collar that made the filmy fabric stand straight up.

After that anything other than school clothes was up to me to make. I used to be so thankful our sewing machine couldn't handle denim - how dreadful would it have been to wear home made jeans! Eventually I did home dec sewing and made quite a few formal dresses. (When I was 12 and 13 many of my classmates had bar mitzvahs for which a "Maxi" skirt was inevitably "required". And early in Grade 10 I figured out if I had a date in the graduating class I could go the formal every year and in those days Ontario High School went up to Grade 13!) Needless to say there was never a budget for ready made floor length gowns!

Anyway, what for me, perhaps started with the absence of Barbie and continued through sewing my own clothes now manifests itself in my knitting as disregard for the world of fashion and its images. After last night's lecture I'm feeling pretty lucky to be having such an unencumbered outlook because it seems like a lot of work to overcome a long held concern for fashion and a sense of not measuring up!

I'm not saying I want to design my own knits though - far from it. A bona fide designer can teach me many things as I work his/her pattern. So too they can introduce me to wearing a cut or style of sleeve or collar that it wouldn't otherwise occur to me to consider. Valuable stuff for sure! Besides I have to keep trying to improve. I need to take classes and learn alternate approaches. There's no guarantee every effort will be a winner. I have to be brave in the face of that and be prepared to fail. Hopefully I'll learn something while I'm at it.

Robin finished her very successful talk with encouragement to go out and knit something fabulous for ourselves.  I hope you feel like your knitting is fabulous for you - whatever that means to you! After all isn't that what knitting is all about in the end?

Thanks for dropping by!

5 comments:

Emily said...

You did much more sewing (and better!) than me. I remember in Needlework at school making a navy skirt for Guides (like girlscouts, ish) in a heavy wool fabric. I carefully cut and sewed it, and even zig-zagged the edges inside. With white cotton, as that was what was in the machine.

When they told me I'd get a higher grade if I re-did it in navy, I went over it with my fountain pen. Worked for the grade!

More of a bodger, really, not careful enough for the proper dress-making, but *envious* of those that can. Great tales!

Lorraine said...

Ahhh, the days of Home Ec-

You know what I would do? Go and get yourself a Barbie. Why not?

Sandra said...

I sewed my formal dresses too. I remember in HOme Ec, when they wanted us to make a wrap skirt, and I declined (not liking them), and asked if I could make something else. I picked a pattern, and made it, and the teacher actually called my Mom to ensure she had not done it for me! Mo Mom told her she taught me to sew years before, and that I was the one who made it. Mom was a little peeved the teacher didn't believe me...

elizabeth said...

I am in awe that you made such a complicated jumper and blouse at age 10! Wow.

I miss sewing. I need to have my antique machine worked on, because there really is nothing like the crunching sound of sharp scissors cutting through fabric.

Brenda said...

I loved Home Ec. Sewing interested me from about the age of 10 as well. In high school our sewing class went from aprons and gathered skirts in Gr 9 to tailored suits in Gr 12. I was so sad that there was no Gr 13 Home Ec.