“I think I’ll stop wearing V-Necks,” I said.
And then I caught myself. I was being a hypocrite. I always believed that women shouldn’t put the blame on themselves for men’s wandering eyes and lack of self-control, yet here I was feeling ashamed of myself for accidentally exposing a little extra skin when my true crime was almost deciding to never wear any of my favorite shirts again.
Some men may think that telling a girl that she turns him on because of her appearance or the way she is dressed is a positive thing, a compliment. Maybe that was their intent, but the way it is received, the outcome, matters much more than the intention. When a man rapes a woman and says that he didn’t intend to traumatize her, does that make it okay? I’m willing to guess your answer is no. So why would it be okay for a man to make a girl feel harassed and uncomfortable–yes, it makes us uncomfortable, not confident–in her own skin, her own favorite shirt, with what he intended as a “compliment”? It is not okay.
To anyone that has ever spoken, please think before you speak. Your words, intended compliment or not, lighthearted joke or not, can create long-lasting insecurities and negatively affect the mentality of the people around you. You may think your one comment does not mean much but it does; even if it doesn’t mean anything that one time, remember that there are a lot of other people who think what they say once doesn’t matter. Imagine how one comment from each person who doesn’t think twice can eventually build up into hundreds, causing perfectly fine people to become utterly self-conscious. No one should be made to feel that way, and absolutely no one needs to change their lifestyle or their clothes for anyone.
“Don’t stop wearing V-Necks,” he said.
Okay. I won’t. But I don’t wear them for you, your pouting face, and your good-willed words. I won’t wear them to suit your preferences, to garner compliments. I will wear them for myself because I like the way they look on me, not the way you look down them.