Two Sides of It: Running Girl – Clothes Make the Man

“Clothes make the man.”  –Mark Twain

First impressions are so important.  We try to be impartial.  We try not to be judgmental.  It doesn’t always work.

Remember this?

Lots of people make assumptions based on appearance.

We live in quite a vanilla suburb of Buffalo.  Most likely, IB will be one of the only children of color in his grade at school.  He will most certainly make a splash with his appearance.  Let’s face it, he has a lot going on on the outside.  For one thing, he’s got his beautiful, chocolate brown skin.

I love the children’s book, I Am Your Peanut Butter Brother, by Selina Alko.  A big brother is anxiously awaiting the arrival of a new baby brother or sister.  He is in a mixed race family and wonders what the new baby will look like.  IB’s skin looks an awful lot like the illustration of a boy described as looking like “double chocolate fudge”, but I digress.

A few weeks ago, IB developed big holes in not one, but two pairs of his blue jeans.  Back in Subway Dude’s “knees on the floor playing” days, I’m not sure I would have thought much about his pants.  Sure, I would have gotten around to replacing the pants at some point.

With IB’s pants, I felt a nagging sense that I needed to replace those pants right away. The next day, I stopped in Old Navy and found Boys’ jeans on sale for $10 a pair.  Fabulous!  I bought two new pairs and then I broached the subject with The Major.

He kind of rolled his eyes at me.  We discussed it a little bit, but we moved on.  I had already purchased the jeans and it was a done deal.

Here we are, a few weeks later and IB developed holes in two more pairs of jeans.  Yes, he has a lot of jeans, but I can only deal with so much laundry.  I like to have a full rotation at my whim.  Again, I bought replace jeans.

TM:  What?!  More jeans?!  You are not planning on throwing those jeans away, are you?

Me:  Of course not.  I’m giving them to Goodwill.

TM:  Can’t we keep them for weekends or something?

Me:  No way.  I know how this works.  I’ll turn my back for one minute and the next thing I know, I’ll pick IB up at school only to find him wearing those jeans!

TM sneakily tried to stuff the jeans in IB’s closet.

Me:  STOP!  Look, at least let’s wash them first!

We’re I’m washing them and they will be stuffed into the deep, deep recesses of IB’s closet.  I hope they will never see the light of day again.

I am not saying that everyone will be judgmental. I think TM’s point is that we shouldn’t care about what people think.  Right, we shouldn’t.  A pair of torn jeans might not make a difference to someone who is judging IB from the outside.  Then again, can’t I give him that extra leg up?  We’re already going to be dealing with the misconception of dreadlocs being dirty and unwashed hair.

Back when SD was a little dude, sometimes replacing a pair of pants was an issue of money.  I couldn’t always afford to run out and buy him a new pair of jeans.  Nowadays I can.  I’m going to buy IB a new pair of jeans or four, as soon as he needs them.

We had a very unpleasant experience with SD’s school nurse when he was in 4th grade.  Long story short, she approached us in a crowded hallway around other students and parents to tell us SD had a ripped and dirty shirt on at school that day.  I will never forget how uncomfortable and upset she made me feel.  His shirt had not been ripped or dirty when he started the day.  SD was being an active boy at school.

I will never forget how little that now retired school nurse made me feel.  This nurse had a problem.  This was not our only run-in with her.  Still, it is situations like that one that push me to want to have my youngest always looking his best.

That, and the fact that he spent so long without shoes.  He treasures his shoes.  Don’t get me started on TM’s closet.  He is the real clothes horse.  After all, he is The Fashionista’s dad.

–Running Girl

IB in "The Village"


5 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Melania on March 4, 2011 at 8:13 am

    RG, I have a few pairs of jeans that Jackson grew “right past”! They are 5-6’s. Cute Old Navy dark wash. you are welcome to “replace” said jeans for torn ones.:) I too have been criticized for my little one getting dirty at school. I truly sympathize with your discomfort. Keep bringing us smiles with the tales of that beautiful chocolate skinned child! Some days your posts really lift me, especially lately in such difficult times. Your tales of IB and of course TF, SD and loving pokes at TM often bring cheers, smiles and happy tears. I thank you for them. XO


  2. Posted by Cecily on March 4, 2011 at 8:29 am

    I try hard to make sure little C isn’t the female version of Pigpen when she goes to school. But between her insistence to pick her own outfits (sometimes from the hanmper) and her long, knotted hair – well, I at least get an “A” for effort. If $$ were no object, little C would have an endless supply of clothes – most of which she would probably never wear – but for now I compromise by shopping at consignment (the one down the street from us and the other in OP). They have lots of boys’ jeans so it might be an option.

    Whatever you choose, I think IB’s charming personality will be most people’s first impression. And others who choose to judge him on appearance only – their loss.


  3. Posted by Anna on March 4, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    RG, are said jeans ripped in such a way that they could become cut off jeans? Cut offs appear to be quite popular these days–they’d probably make good play clothes… and it might save you some money come the summer! Just a thought…


  4. Posted by lisa on March 4, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    Do what feels right to you! Cut the jeans & make them into shorts. It’s a win win solution : IB has some “new” summer clothes & you know the jeans can’t be worn now!!


  5. Posted by Gail on March 4, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    It’s a shame that you (or anyone) has to worry about such things in this day and age. I pray for a time when this issue is a non-issue. Best of luck on this.

    And thank you for the Susan Boyle link. I had never seen that. It inspired me to watch a related link of her later singing with Elaine Paige, the woman Boyle says she wishes to be like in her first appearance. What a dream come true for someone who probably went through her entire life, up to that point, being judged unfairly by her appearance.


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