No, We’re Not Covering Up

There’s a Facebook post going around right now. Bryce Brewer, a youth pastor in Washington, wrote an apology to all the girls that have been a part of his youth group through the years for requiring them to wear one-piece swimsuits to youth camps. It’s a great post.

Through my grade school years, I went to many youth group pool parties with friends and never had a one-piece swimsuit. Why in the world would I? Keep in mind, the cute one pieces that currently exist now, were nonexistent during this time. Non-grandma one pieces took a break between Baywatch and Beyonce’s bodysuit rise. So, I always had to wear a huge t-shirt over my two-piece because that was the alternative. It felt like a dunce hat. So, this post related to me a great deal.

Even in elementary school, I didn’t understand how my stomach was inappropriate to show, but boys’ stomachs weren’t.

I competed for Miss Louisiana in college. Say what you want to say negatively about pageants (I mean, I even have my fair share to say), but …

I loved the femininity in the juxtaposition of strutting in a swimsuit and heels after being grilled on current events and politics for 10 minutes straight by five locally influential judges. It’s pretty badass.

Then, along came Gretchen Carlson who threw the swimsuit portion of competition out of the show. The women I competed with were furious. Here was another notion that we needed to cover up and not embrace all parts of being a woman in order to be taken seriously.

When I stopped competing, I sold most of my pageant wardrobe but kept the more versatile pieces, particularly my interview dresses. Interview dresses weren’t an easy thing to come by. It was a serious search for an ensemble that showed off the body you were working so hard on for the last several months, while still being professional.

I wore one of them to a public relations networking event at LSU and felt strange for the first time ever while wearing one. It wasn’t that I was uncomfortable in what I was wearing, but it was the first time I noticed that most other women weren’t wearing anything like me. A couple friends that night told me I looked overdressed.

I could give a million examples of how history tells women they should cover up to be taken seriously and so could you.

I follow female lawyers on social media that frequently talk about judges telling them their open-toe shoes and dresses that show an ounce of cleavage are inappropriate.

My mom never told me I couldn’t wear something. I spoke with her about this recently and she said that when we tried on clothes at the store and I picked something questionable, she would just ask me to turn around and look at my butt cheeks hanging out of a potential homecoming dress and let me make the right decision.

So, in high school I was blown away at what some moms would say about clothes in front of me. In the most judgmental tones, they would tell their daughters spaghetti straps and fitted shirts weren’t appropriate.

Which, now, makes me realize how much that later gave those same girls the green light to judge other girls for wearing those things (cue buzzer sound for things we subconsciously teach our kids to do that suck).

I think about how crazy my toddler dresses. We have dozens of fun dresses in her closet. She frequently wore a pair of rainbow, cheetah print bellbottoms last fall. There is no shortage of mermaid shoes, tutus, cat ear headbands, or crazy hats in our home. She puts the most fun, ridiculous outfits together on her own right now and I love it.

So, how confusing would it be to tell her to start toning it down and not draw attention certain parts of her body the second she starts getting boobs?

Care about how you look because you’re a woman and it matters (there’s a whole separate conversation on societal pressures), but don’t draw too much attention to yourself. Bleh.

Here’s to all the open-toe shoes, cleavage, heels, and spaghetti straps because I am over this. *glass clink*

Deon Sumer
Hi, I’m Deon! I grew up in Zachary, Louisiana. I am currently attending Southern University Law Center part-time, where I am also a teaching assistant, with the intention of practicing family law. I work full-time at the East Baton Rouge Law Office of the Public Defender as a secretary. I had my daughter, Evelyn, in the fall of 2018 and am engaged to an amazing, supportive man named Ryan. I love traveling and exploring new places. A plane ticket to anywhere with a rental car waiting for me is a solid vacation. I have a degree in mass communications with a concentration in public relations and a minor in political science from LSU. I have a rescue dog at home and love helping with animal welfare efforts. My daughter’s first word was dog (or ‘gog’). I'm also always looking for ways to join the fight against Louisiana's domestic violence epidemic. I spend the majority of my free time gardening or wandering around our neighborhood with my family.


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