It’s New Year’s Day, and I’m not ready to talk about resolutions, or make a list of things I ought to do to be better, have more, know myself or be happier. I”m still working on this year’s vision board. I’m not feeling spiritual either, and I don’t want to write about what 2013 brought and left me. Nope. Today I’m thinking about leggings. That’s right, leggings. Specifically on old ladies, but also generally, as in leggings on teenagers. I almost wrote ‘youngins’ there, but that sounds way more colloquial than I actually feel. So I wrote ‘teenagers’ when I really meant seventh and eighth graders. Not teens, exactly, but not kids either. Youngins.
You may wonder why I’m thinking about leggings today. Here’s the deal: I’ve actually been thinking about them for while now. I have worn them once or twice, always under a dress, and felt pretty cool wearing them. Like fit and shapely. Which isn’t really the case. I always wonder what to wear them with, specifically what shoes, and do I have to buy boots to wear leggings? What about a top? I think a shortish dress is good with them but a longish sweater, not so much. Then there’s that age appropriateness thing. Are they a young woman or kid thing to wear, or could I manage to wear them in an age appropriate way?
At the middle school where I teach, the girls wear them as often as they wear jeans. This year the tribal printed ones are all the rage. They wear them with short little sweaters, as if they were jeans. And it doesn’t really look so good, even on a twelve-year-old. I also know an older woman who frequently wears them, occasionally with a short sweater like the kids do. Without going into detail, I’ll say that it does not work. No. Because of those leggings, I know just a little more about her anatomy than I ever imagined wanting to know. And I am older than she is. (I just learned last week that I’m in fact the oldest staff member at my school. Yeah. Awesome!) So, I keep not wearing them. And only touching on the thought of them occasionally.
But then, yesterday I was shopping for a couple of things at Raley’s and I came across two separate old ladies wearing leggings, and looking just fine in them. Based on their faces, I think they were probably older than I am, although sometimes I think that lots of people who I think are older than I am are in fact younger. Their age isn’t really the issue here. The leggings are. Or the fact that things have changed since I was a girl, and as hip and Baby Boomer as I think I am, my ideas and mores were formed when I was a girl and watched my grandma and great-grandma on my mom’s side be old ladies.
The kind of old ladies who wore only slips, baggy silky dresses and big boxy undies. Stockings rolled to just below their knees and sensible black shoes or house slippers, and a hanky stuffed up their sleeve or in the neck of their dress, tucked under their slip strap. And grey permed hair. They played canasta. All the time. My other role model, I mean grandma, my dad’s mom, was very stylish, and wouldn’t think of leaving the house without full makeup and her best clothes. She played Bridge. And once took off for Las Vegas with her girlfriends without telling any of us. But leggings wouldn’t have ever been part of her wardrobe, of this I’m certain, even if they had been invented then.
So, somewhere in the back of my mind, when I thought about aging, (which I really didn’t think would actually ever happen to me because everyone always told me how young I looked), I always expected to turn into my grandma. Probably not the stylish one. I’m not sure how I thought that would happen. Would I just wake up old one day? Was it a decision one made one day? I guess I thought that for some reason getting old would skip me, and on my good days I still think that. I never really thought about that bridge between older and old. I do think of it a lot more lately, like any time I’m brazen enough to take a ‘selfie’, when I imagine I can catch a spontaneously fun shot of myself and all I see is wrinkles.
But I digress. This has become about more than leggings, hasn’t it? My point is, I know that I’m not my grandmothers but sometimes, when I’m not looking, I forget that. And it limits my idea of who and what I can be and do. Because, even though I’m on the downhill run to Medicare, I still believe I can do and be whatever I want to. Obviously, there are some things that have passed for me, like going to medical school or winning American Idol. But there are lots of possibilities left, and anything that helps me rout out those buried limitations is a thing I want to notice. I’d rather decide my possibilities in a conscious way, not based on some old ideas that I don’t even know I believe.
As for the leggings, the jury is still out on that one. What about with clogs?