You know that nice theory where everyone is nice to everyone regardless of race, colour, creed, orientation, shoe size? The one that would make our world a very different – much nicer place – if everybody truly subscribed to it? Well, it’s another of the bees in my bonnet. (Yes, there are quite a few of them!)
And people who don’t subscribe to it really rattle my cage. Like those ‘ladies’ who work in my building who go all quiet and refuse to acknowledge my cheery greeting but scuttle away and then giggle behind their hands like school children. Well, like school children are actually taught not to do. And I know why they do it; it’s because I look very different both from them and what they would consider normal. I dress in retro-style clothing, often with fluffy petticoats and to them that’s out of their comfort zone. So they treat me like I’m an alien. Which, in these days of multi-cultural society, isn’t really acceptable, is it? I could understand them taking evasive action if I was drunk or dirty and smelled bad. I’m none of these things. (At least, not very often!) I could even understand it if I had some dreadful deformity, like elephantiasis, as people often just don’t know how to react or what to say so as not to cause offence and therefore flee in order to get out of an uncomfortable situation. But I’m a perfectly ordinary woman, in the same age group as them. Nothing about me is particularly remarkable. I’m pretty small and insignificant. Hell, I’m five foot one and a tealeaf (that tealeaf is very important to a pixie) and 46 years old – that makes me so boring that I’m practically invisible! Maybe they just don’t see me? But no, they see me alright. They see me smile and they hear me speak to them. They just choose not to respond to me but to treat me with derision and/or contempt.
Of course, I consider myself lucky that this is all they do. I’m not on the receiving end of the horrendous abuse that caused the death of the beautiful Sophie Lancaster, who was basically kicked and stamped to death in a public park for dressing like a goth. It’s okay, I’m an adult and I’m big enough and ugly enough to cope with other adults who really should grow up. And, if we’re being honest, should try dressing a little better then they currently do, especially in a professional/office work environment. (Don’t get me started on their ‘fashion choices’!) But the irony of the situation? Those ladies work for an organisation that works for and with adults with learning disabilities. People who often look different from the ‘norm’. And one of the main things they spout about on their website is equality. Next time I find I’ve inadvertently cornered them in the kitchen, I may well ask about their organisation and its equality policy. That should be fun…
But please don’t think that their behaviour is the norm because, happily, it is not. The vast majority of people that I encounter – and most of my customers say the same – are highly complimentary. I’ve lost count of the times people have come up to me in the street, the supermarket, all over the place, to say, “You look fantastic!” and other things of that ilk. Dressing the way I do is usually appreciated – and not just by old men! So many people say, “I wish I had the courage to dress like you,” and “We really should make more of an effort.” Yes. Make that effort. In my book, it’s all part of courtesy to others and making the world a nicer place and that, I think, is really quite important. Along with responding to a cheery greeting and not acting like a schoolgirl bully.
Wear that frock, hold your head high and make the world a nicer place.