A View from Within: Speaking from Anonymity "Claire Rashad"
Claire Rashad is an alias that was chosen for a woman who would rather remain anonymous. Claire was asked to speak about society's interpretation of the way women dress and the comments that Chef Ayesha Curry made in December regarding the way women dress "nowadays".
Q. What’s your general position on the matter? How should women dress?
A. Generally however the hell they feel. I don’t particularly care--I pass a little judgment on someone who has all of their businesses out at 3pm on a Wednesday. Though, I would be lying if I don’t have cleavage or leg showing. It’s how you wear it. It’s a matter of taste. I don’t particularly care. Instagram is not real life.
I don’t think her statement was passing judgment on others. Just be easy with assigning a personality to people who wear certain thing.
Q. Why do you think the way someone dresses can determine their personality?
A. Women literally wake up every morning and decide what they’re going to wear. We have the flexibility to change our entire outlook and how people see us based on what we put on. I don’t think you can read too much into it. The only thing that’s really changing is what we’re wearing. We may carry ourselves differently in it. You can put sweatpants on Nicki Minaj but she’ll be the same person.
Q. What underlies your thinking? What influences exist?
A. I don't know. I guess the women I’ve always been around. I’ve seen the women in my family and my friends. I see that people can change their appearance so easily. It’s what I let myself see in other women. I’m not looking at Kim Kardashian as an example of how women should dress or what it means to be a woman. Ooh! Like Claire Huxtable--just on a regular day she would be in a suit. Then when she would go to a fancy event, she would dress fancy.
Q. Do you agree with Curry?
A. To a point. I feel like that kind of assumes that the person gets dressed not for themselves but for someone else. I don’t think I necessarily agree with that part.
We are what society makes us. People are constantly judging what we’re wearing. For work as a lawyer, there are all of these issues about women in court if the judge thinks it's appropriate. We are constantly judged as soon as we walk outside. It's almost hard for us not to do it ourselves becasue its so ingrained in us to judge others based on what they’re wearing. People think you’re dumb if you're beautiful. No one assumes that you might actually have a brain. That’s what we see on tv, that’s what people do to us all the time so we kind of just project it back out.
Q. How do you think women should dress?
A. However they wake up and feel like. I’ll keep my style in tact. I don’t want to see their "business" if you know what I mean. I’ve had the misfortune of seeing that and was disgusted. Beyond that? Whatever feels right. Sometimes I commend the people that dress interestingly and don’t have to align with certain norms about how you’re supposed to dress. I’m envious of those people because I don’t always have that opportunity.
Q. Do you think you succumb to societal pressure?
A. Totally. In my mind I’ll add something that’s a little different to my outfit. For work I’ll wear a bright colored blazer but it’s just a variation of a norm. It’s just me finding my own way in something I have to do. I comply. I act accordingly. Mainly because of work. I don’t really know the reason for that maybe it was the way I was raised. I was wearing button up shirts by the age of 3. It’s just what I’m accustomed to wearing and looking.
Q. Why do you think dressing conservatively is a guideline for raising girls?
A. Caribbean people pass a lot of judgment. They don’t hold their tongues. They will tell you. You just get accustomed to looking proper and neat partly because of that. We have our cultural ideas about what’s “womanly.” It’s ingrained in us to always look “correct”. Look put together. Don't embarrass them. Don’t embarrass yourself. Be good.
Q. What informs looking proper?
A. This idea of what’s classy and what’s not classy.
Q. What do you think makes Black girls fly?
A. Our essence. We just--it emanates from us. There's a reason people follow what we do. We do certain things naturally and just not care about other people’s opinions on things. There are so many different ways. It’s hard to put it into one thing. We’re completely okay with being unique.
Claire Rashad is anonymous because she doesn't want you to know who she is. We promise she's super smart, intellectual and dresses superbly. You can't follow her on Instagram or any other bit of social media, but you might already be!