I firmly believe in self-expression. I think every adult human should have a right to dress however he or she pleases. I just wish more people would put some thought into exactly how they express themselves.

I’m not referring to that annoying habit that some men have of wearing sandals with knee socks. (I think that looks absurd, but your fashion rights should extend to bad taste as well.) I don’t mean wearing colors that obviously clash or make you look like bozo the clown. (Again, your option.)

I’m talking about when your clothes send an ugly message about what you think about yourself and the wider world.

For example, in this day and age, you can order a t-shirt that says absolutely anything. There are customized print on demand companies that can take your self-expression to the next level. But just because you can wear something doesn’t necessarily mean you should.

For example, the t-shirts above definitely send a strong message, but it might not be the one the wearer intends.

  • I don’t care about other people’s feelings.

  • I’m an idiot.

  • I enjoy upsetting people.

  • I have a really warped worldview.

I don’t see how wearing a shirt like this benefits anyone, including the wearer. It makes no sense.

And then there are these jeans, which apparently are quite popular at the moment.


Here’s the thing. Most women like to put their best foot forward. At least that has been my experience. So if you want to wear jeans like these, I assume that you think your most redeeming quality is your body. And there’s nothing wrong with being proud of your body. I vaguely remember what that’s like. But these jeans (or the lack thereof) say to the wider world that your sexuality is your primary selling point. It would be much classier, in my opinion, to walk down the street naked.

Hyper-sexual clothing makes me very sad. I know a lot of amazing women, and what makes them amazing is not their physical form. It’s who they are. It’s their intelligence. It’s their kindness. It’s their abilities. I bet the model above is a very nice person, but I’m quite sure most people who look at that photo aren’t having that thought.

If you are wanting to draw people to you with your self-expression, you might want to ask yourself what kind of people you will draw to you if you’re wearing these jeans or those t-shirts. First of all, you’re going to intimidate a lot of really amazing individuals. You’ll disgust and repel others. And the ones you attract with those jeans, especially, will not be interested in who you are inside. None of these garments say, “Take me seriously.”

I’m not suggesting that women should cover themselves from head to toe, revealing only their eyes. (Unless, of course, they wish to do so, in which case more power to them.) I’m not saying that no one should voice their opinions. And I’m definitely not telling you to be ashamed of your own body.

I’m merely saying that showing the world that you have dignity and respect, especially self-respect, and inviting them to learn more about you through civil conversation will be, in the long run, a great deal more appealing to those who will be most likely to treat you decently.

And when all is said and done in this insane world of ours, decency is what we all deserve.


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That Moment When You Realize You Have Horrible Taste

Hi, my name is Barb, and my curtains don’t match. My pillowcases don’t match my sheets, either. And some of the pants I wear to work are patched because I refuse to spend money on something that’s just going to get greasy. I’ve had pretty much the same hairdo since high school, and no one else seems to dress the way I do. I can’t be bothered to be trendy. I’d rather spend my money on travel.

I don’t wear makeup, I’ve never had a manicure, and I watch a lot of reality TV and true crime crap off of Youtube. I collect rocks. I also collect misfits.

I really ought to vacuum my car, but since I don’t even bother to wash it, what are the odds of that? And I’m sure my neighbors would say that my yard is in desperate need of attention.

The reason I appreciate my friends and loved ones so much is that they are willing to look beyond that surface stuff and see who I am. Underneath all that tacky sloppy stuff is a warm heart, a loyal friend, an intelligent woman with a killer sense of humor. I’m kind and compassionate and creative. And my dog loves me.

I admit I probably don’t make the best first impression. But I’ve always appreciated those people who are willing to delve deeper. Thank you all for that.

bad taste

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What Were You Wearing?

There’s a thought-provoking art installation that has been to universities in Arkansas, Iowa and Kansas. Entitled, “What Were You Wearing? Survivor Art Installation”, it’s a display of the clothing various people were wearing at the time they were sexually assaulted.

Even just a photograph of this installation is sobering. Displays of sweat pants and a t-shirt, children’s sun dresses, cargo pants and a jersey… All kinds of different clothes. Clothes you or I might wear.

And that’s the point.

I, for one, am sick and tired of the implication that victims bring rape upon themselves. I hate the myth that if women just covered up more, and weren’t so provocative, then these poor rapists would be able to control themselves. Bullshit.

Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit, bullshit.

I don’t care if a woman chooses to dance naked in the middle of a sex offender’s convention. No means no. Yes means yes. Any grey areas in between mean… NO!

I hope this art installation goes to other campuses, and even art galleries, especially at a time when Betsy DeVos, our Secretary of Education, seems to be siding with perpetrators. People need to be shown that this is not about being a tramp or “asking for it.” It’s about violent criminals. That’s who we need to focus on.

I was wearing blue jeans and a flannel shirt.

Photo by Sara Shepherd

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Okay. Just three words. Rompers for men.


Who in God’s name thinks that this is a good idea? I mean… come on. Some things are just  really, really ill-conceived. For example, I know darned well my miniskirt days are over. But I’m okay with that.

I’m sure several of my regular readers are going to argue that people should have a right to wear what they darned well please. I agree. And heaven knows I’m not exactly an arbiter of good taste. But sometimes you have to accept that what you wear sends a message.

As an adult male, I would not want to send the message that I’m really three years old and there ought to be a flap in the back of this get up so I have an easier time going number two. And anyone who has the slightest beer gut is going to walk around looking like one of those tomato pin cushions your mom had in her sewing kit.

All forms of infantilization drive me up a wall. I’ve discussed baby talkers before. I also think grown women in pig tails or with ribbons in their hair, or senior citizens who dress like pre-teens, are rather silly.

Even 75-year-old rock stars who haven’t figured out when to call it quits would not be caught dead in rompers. That’s just a guess, of course. But I think it’s a fairly safe one.


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Seattle’s Fremont Sunday Market and Mobile Food Rodeo

I don’t know how I managed to overlook this Seattle tradition for so long (probably has something to do with the fact that I work every Sunday), but in the quirky Fremont neighborhood here in Seattle there is a street market every Sunday from 10 to 4. It’s only about two short blocks from the Fremont Drawbridge, and it’s a lot of fun. The first time I went was with friends Deborah and Dan.

You can shop for vintage clothing and jewelry, yard sale antiques, flowers, and all manner of international clothing, arts and crafts. Just feasting your eyes on the colorful wares is a delight. I also enjoy watching people walk their dogs. (My dog Quagmire would never tolerate crowds of this size.) And it’s a great way to just celebrate being out of doors.

There are some food trucks every Sunday, but once a month, the Mobile Food Rodeo descends on the area as well, and the crowds swell. The rodeo includes food from all over the globe: Greek, Mexican, Italian, Indian, Native American, all manner of Asian cuisine, as well as seafood, burgers, donuts and hot dogs.

When the weather is mild, after you’ve braved the long lines and gotten your food, you can sit along the banks of the ship canal and watch the boats go by, just as I did with my friends Paula and Kevin. It’s just the quintessential Seattle way to spend a Sunday afternoon!

I hope I see you there, but if you are planning to go, I highly recommend you carpool, bike, or take public transportation, or you’ll experience another Seattle tradition: the utter lack of parking.

Fremont Sunday Market

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What is Your Jewelry Worth?

For the first time in my life I can say I feel sorry for Kim Kardashian West. It’s got to be terrifying to have a gun pointed at your head. No doubt it’s traumatic to be robbed and to fear for your life. I hope she’ll get some therapeutic support.

But having said that, the other outrage, that no one seems to be talking about, is the fact that she had 11.2 million dollars’ worth of jewelry to steal in the first place. I can totally understand why you’d want to maintain a million dollar lifestyle. Truly, I can. I wouldn’t turn it down. But anything beyond that, you really ought to be ashamed of yourself. The fact that her jewelry alone surpasses that tells you everything that’s wrong with the one percent in this country.

How do you happily ride in your limousine past homeless people and food banks, through neighborhoods with inadequate drinking water, with 11.2 million dollars in jewelry in your suitcase? How do you sleep at night knowing that women are forced into prostitution just to feed their children and yet spend your bounty on baubles? What makes your need for a necklace supersede the need for adequate clothing for thousands of children? How do you even justify that in your mind?

I just can’t grasp the mindset. Is there something about having a big fat bank account that automatically shuts your mind off from the human condition? Do you think you have more of a right to go to bed on a full stomach than anyone else does? How can someone buy diamonds while other people are starving?

And why aren’t we more outraged?


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Textile Recycling

Here are some interesting statistics: According to the Council for Textile Recycling, the average US citizen throws away 70 pounds of clothing and other textiles annually. Textile waste accounts for 5 percent of all landfill waste. Only 15 percent of all post-consumer textile waste gets recycled each year.

I know I haven’t been recycling my clothing, shoes, sheets and blankets. I didn’t know you could. See, I’m cheap. I tend to wear clothes out until they are so raggedy that even a thrift shop couldn’t sell them. And even though I rarely eat catsup, somehow it seems to find its way to the front of every shirt I own, and then stubbornly refuses to leave despite my best cleaning efforts. So I’ve been tossing these things. Silly me.

Turns out you can still donate those unwearable rags to thrift shops and they will reap the benefits, because they can turn around and sell them to textile recyclers. And when those recyclers get these things, they then turn them into rags, insulation, carpet padding, and raw material for the auto industry. That’s brilliant.

The reason I discovered this is that I live in one of the coolest counties in the entire country, and they are promoting what they call “threadcycling”. It’s a program to educate people that this type of recycling can be done. I am all for keeping things out of the landfills, believe you me. So spread the word. We’re all in this together.

Okay, so technically these are “new”. (Kids these days!) But what happens to them when they are worn out? (And how could you tell?)


Dirty Jobs

I must say that I love having an employer that not only allows me to dress like a hobo, but actually expects me to. I come in contact with grease and motor oil entirely too often to wear nice clothes. My shoes are so greasy, in fact, that I leave them here at work. I don’t want to contaminate my house.

I’ve had jobs where you had to dress up in the past, and I always felt like a massive fraud. And a dress code always adds a whole additional level of office politics that I didn’t enjoy at all. There were always factions. Some people were always on the outer. There were constant complaints that one person (usually me) wasn’t dressed quite nicely enough. Or someone had terrible taste, or didn’t iron properly. And there were all these grey areas. How short was too short? Why is a Hawaiian print considered too casual, but a floral print is okay? I used to have a really nicely made silk shirt, but it happened to be tie-dyed. Heaven forfend!

On this job, no one talks about how you dress. No one complains about the state of your shoes as long as they’re close-toed. If you shirt isn’t ever-so-slightly stained, you probably aren’t trying hard enough.

There is one thing that will make you an outsider. If you don’t get your work clothes at the thrift store, people will look at you strangely. And that suits me just fine.

My greasy work shoes.
My greasy work shoes.

The Bumblebee Shirt

I am convinced that some people should not be allowed to dress themselves. You know the ones. You pass them on the street and the first thing that crosses your mind is, “What the hell were you thinking this morning?”

I must admit I’m not exactly a fashion plate myself. Comfort matters much more to me than brand names or the latest trend. But I try not to clash. I try to avoid spandex. I try to be age appropriate. And as a general rule I try not to look ridiculous.

I used to date a guy who liked to wear a golf shirt that consisted of wide alternating stripes of olive drab and mustard yellow, which was horrible, but tolerable, until you added in the fact that it had a large powder blue coat of arms stitched on the upper left side. I used to call it the bumblebee shirt. The thing was awful. And it didn’t help that he was a redhead. People would stare at him with a look of pity when he wore it.

I have to admit that I teased him about this shirt. This was before I realized that he hadn’t matured past the age of 12 and that teasing actually emotionally lacerated this guy. You couldn’t even get into water fights while washing the car with him, because he’d take it personally and actually get tears in his eyes. This made it awfully hard to have fun with him.

When we broke up, I discovered that what I intended as good-natured teasing and maybe a little bit of advice came off as bullying to him. He never had the backbone to speak up at the time, and eventually he got rid of the shirt. But now I feel kind of bad about it. Maybe it would have been better to let him be laughed at by the whole world. I was genuinely trying to protect him from that. But he was notorious for not picking up on blatantly obvious social cues, and ignorance is, after all, bliss.

bumblebee shirt

He actually wore all of this stuff except the tank top.

A Florida Transplant to the Pacific Northwest

My upcoming relocation to the other side of the continent is constantly on my mind, as you can well imagine. This is going to be a dramatic change for me. I’m a Florida girl who has never had to deal with Pacific Northwest-y stuff. I’m anticipating having to ask a lot of stupid questions, and I’m quite sure things are going to come up that I don’t expect. Here are some of my biggest concerns.

  • I have never driven in snow in my entire life. I don’t know any of the tricks or rules or… anything. Will I need snow tires? Chains? Where do I get them? How do I put them on? Do they salt the roads? How do you avoid rust?
  • I don’t know what footwear to get to deal with rain and snow.
  • I don’t know how heavy a coat I’m going to need. Should I get thermal underwear?
  • What’s a good setting for your thermostat so you don’t freeze to death but also don’t get an insane electric bill?
  • This is going to sound silly, but I basically don’t know how to dress. Here, it’s t-shirt, shorts, flip flops, and you’re good 90 percent of the year, even in nice restaurants. I think I’m going to need more long sleeve shirts…
  • Do people dress up when they go out to dinner? Or is it as casual as Florida?
  • How often will I experience earthquakes? What do I do when one happens? What do you do if you are driving during one?
  • How do you keep mud off your carpet?
  • My lease says I have to wrap the outdoor hose bibs every October. What do I wrap them with, and where do I get it? Wouldn’t it just be easier to keep them wrapped all year round?

God, this is embarrassing. I feel like I’m about to be dumped off on another planet with no orientation whatsoever. I feel like I’m 5 years old and have wandered away from my mother in a department store. I realize that this is all part and parcel of my general free floating anxiety about this relocation, but seriously… help!

Between these silly questions and having to beg the world for help on my Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign, thereby putting my fat pasty self on a video and getting all emotional for the whole world to see, this change has been a huge lesson in what it feels like to make myself vulnerable. It’s a good lesson to learn, but it’s hard to swallow.

puss in boots

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