Today as I was driving home from Costco I drove past a park I've driven past many times before. In this park where a bunch of twenty and thirty-somethings in comfortable clothes, yoga pants, tanks tops, you know, neo-hippie gear and I thought to myself; "I bet husband and I would like those people".
And from there I started thinking about: clothes. Clothes are an interesting personal item I'd never given a whole helluva lot of thought to before. Certainly never much critical thought. But there I was sitting in my car and considering how I'd summed that group of people up and I thought: clothes are our adornment, our peacock feathers or brightly colored scales. They tell a tale about us, whether we're conscious of it or not. They communicate values.
It's like the exercise to identify class values in Acupuncture is Like Noodles. What clothes we choose testify somewhat to what we value. This group, in their comfortable, clean and clearly not new clothes communicated to me that they were more interested in being comfortable than being fashionable, though their choices in yoga pants and tank tops suggested some sense of fashion and that they were willing to spend money on clothes, though the obviously not brand newness of them said they weren't willing to do this all the time. The particular combination of clothes was that neo-hippie look I think many people expect all of northern California to dress like, communicating to me that they were comfortable being identified this way and therefore probably held similar values to me: progressivism, social justice, anti-capitalist(ish?)...etc.
These are all variable attributes to me, and so I drove past with the automatic assumption in my head that probably I a) had something in common with these folks and b) would enjoy spending time with them.
It made me wonder what other people see as they drive past this park with these folks hanging out in it. Do they see "degenerates"? Do they see air heads? Druggies?
How effective are our peacock feathers, and how easy to they make it for others to pigeonhole us or write us off?