If you have followed Kandi’s Land, you have heard this before. But it is very important to me to keep preaching the gospel of my four Rules of the Road. I inadvertently followed these rules, realized what they were and how right they were and began making sure I drive these points home.
If you want to go out in the great wide, surprisingly accepting world, you should do the following:
This seems pretty obvious, but it is so very important. Dressed, I would not attend a fundamentalist Christian conference, go anywhere near a KKK rally, go to a biker bar or mill about in a questionable neighborhood. Okay, I wouldn’t do these dressed or not. But when dressed, I am very smart about where I go. I go to places where there is a high probability that I will be accepted. I volunteer at art museums, community theaters, and various charities. I go to churches, restaurants/bars filled by the general public (as opposed to a sports bar or something the serves a specific niche) and large public areas. The more people in the area, the less likely I am even noticed, hiding in plain sight.
Like many of you, I keep this part of my life a secret from many. As a result, I go out generally at least 10 miles from my home. The further you move from home, the less likely you will run into someone you know (unless you have a public profession). Sure it could happen, but it’s less likely and more likely that you won’t be noticed or recognized. With our children grown and living elsewhere, this stage of our lives allows for much more privacy. No more school events, football games, dance recitals, places where we were out, interacting with friends and neighbors. I now go days and sometimes weeks without really having any significant interaction with anyone outside of my close family and social circle. The older I get, the less likely I am to be recognized. Plus, of course, I look different dressed than when not. You need the time, ability and desire to make the connection.
Being smart means parking in a well lit area. It means being aware of your surroundings. I have talked about how many of my sisters are creatures of the night. I am not and I believe this has served me well. As the saying goes, nothing good ever happens at 2 AM. The sun is generally shining brightly when I am out.
We all worry about our safety or if we’ll be cornered by those bearing pitchforks and torches. In this day and age, our children cannot feel safe going to school. People are gunned down at concerts or in nightclubs. This is the world we live in, dressed or not. People are accepting, are welcoming. I live and breathe it frequently, going out often and still never having a negative experience. Why? Because I am smart about how, when and where I go.
Bottom line ladies, live your life. Home circumstances are what they are, nothing I can do about that and that certainly will constrict your ability to get out. But, PLEASE don’t use the “world” as an excuse because that is all it is, an excuse. A crutch. Get out there and be who you are! As many have attested to here, it is life affirming, simply nothing better!
Appropriate, so very, very important. Please don’t complain about not being accepted if you are not dressed in an appropriate fashion for your age, for your body type, for your surroundings. If in fact you are not, that is completely your prerogative, but you cannot expect to be accepted or treated as any other woman by society in general.
If your goal is to blend or assimilate, which is mine, then you must dress like any other woman your age. I am 59 years old, so I want to dress like any other lady my age. That doesn’t mean I don’t wear a short skirt on occasion (I like to feature my best asset, my legs). I pick my spots, take a bit of a fashion risk when in the right circumstance. I work Pandemonium, a huge gala held by Cleveland Public Theater. I wore a very short, tight fitting dress. But that was what the event called for and so I was completely accepted and at ease in my surroundings. When I attend Sunday services, I dress accordingly, in a modest dress or knee length skirt and blazer. Think about how a woman your age would present herself for the circumstance. I have seen too many wearing clothing designed for a teenage hooker. Backless dresses and giant heels. Most women simply don’t dress that way. But if that is what you like, go for it, just don’t expect to blend.
Please dress for your body type. I am fortunate, I worked my behind off (this was NOT God given) to get thin. I sacrificed, ran, worked out and ate well to attain my figure. Dropped a ton of weight. It’s now a way of life for me. Therefore I am able to reap the benefits in the type of outfits I can wear. If you are thicker, heavier, then make the adjustment. We all want to be that rail-thin model, but if your body doesn’t allow for it, then make the necessary adjustments in your wardrobe.
Dress for the occasion. As the saying goes, don’t wear a ball gown to the bowling alley. That doesn’t mean you can’t stretch the boundaries. I’ll often wear a dress shopping or for dinner. While many women no longer wear dresses, some do. But I may go casual with a cute denim jacket to blend better. Watch other women. Notice how they dress, what types of shoes they wear, what they wear and where they wear it. Don’t overdo it. I’ve seen “sisters” out in the wild and some try too hard to wear every single possible article of women’s clothing all at once. Be feminine but stylish.
Act like a woman. Comport yourself as a woman does. I fool no one. Yet in hundreds of outings, nearly thousands of situations, I have had not one single negative experience. I have received thousands of complements, every single one was because they knew who and what I am. There is tremendous kindness out there.
Being appropriate is so very important to blending. Please note I will never discuss “passing” as I know nothing about that. I never have “passed” and I never will.
There is a saying, a smile is the prettiest thing you can wear! Confidence, pride in yourself, happiness, that smile. It disarms people who might otherwise have an issue. It lights up those that have empathy and/or great respect for you (believe it or not, many do). It is a magnet for positivity. Nothing, in really any thing we do in life, bodes well for you more than confidence.
You and I can dress about the same. If I am confident and you are acting nervous, I will generally blend, be accepted. Your nervousness will make those around you nervous about you. Think about it. In any phase of life, those with confidence, whether earned or simply exhibited, are or become successful.
My rules work. They are battle tested. Think about it, I don’t put myself in questionable situations (smart), I dress myself in such a fashion, stylishly, that doesn’t draw unnecessary negative attention (appropriate) and I own it, unequivocally (confident). Time after time, witness after witness, confidence, which breeds an ease about me when dressed, has been the biggest part of my success in going out.
I’ve told this story before (but not sure where). I volunteered for my first chorus fundraiser, probably six years ago. There was a table there purchased by a CD support group. I was there, having a blast, in my pink dress. Someone from the support group introduced herself and asked me how I was so comfortable (I myself at the time had only been out in public for a few months). While I was nice and said supportive things, in my head I wondered what was wrong with this lunatic! She was dressed well from the neck to her toes, but her head….five o’clock shadow and her wig pulled up over her face rendering her as Cousin It! Really? A significant lack of confidence or really any amount of common sense.
Own it! You have every right to be out, to dress as you wish, to be respected as any other human being. You do and you need to project that. People mirror back what they see frequently. Be confident, it means so much!
Visible. Seen by the general public. Seen as just another person. Being out, confident, proud, happy, joyous, friendly, interactive, all change the minds of the public as to who and what we are. I am sure many, many of the people I have met probably don’t know someone like myself. I am sure I was discussed on the way home, hopefully thought of fondly. I take my responsibility as a representative of our community seriously, the impression I leave might just make a difference for the next sister to follow.
Like it or not, we are stereotyped. Those stereotypes may well be deserved in some cases. If you cannot get comfortable with yourself, how can you expect others to get comfortable with you? I really think that is where my success lies, I am clearly comfortable in my own skin. Frankly, my confidence as Kandi is far greater than my confidence as myself, for many reasons. As such, that comfort radiates to others who then drop any pretense and just see me as a friendly face, someone interesting, someone worth knowing.
If we don’t get out there, if we are not visible, nothing will ever change. It is a process, just like anything in life.
So I’ll keep trying to do my part. I’ll keep going out, talking to others, smiling, helping, being a proud representative of our community (when life eventually gets back to normal).
This concludes my little seminar on the keys I have found to being almost universally accepted anywhere and everywhere I have gone dressed. Be smart, a rule for anyone in these troubled times of ours where you’re not even safe at school or in your church or synagogue. Be appropriate, if you want to be accepted, than you need to assimilate and not shock or stun others. Be confident, confidence in anything one does in their life does nothing but help. Be visible, the only way we change minds, perceptions and our culture in general.
If there is nothing else you take away from Kandi’s Land, please make it this. There is nothing else I can tell you, show you, prove to you that works better than these rules. The world guns people down on their job, in their house of worship, at the mall. So you will never mitigate the risks associated with living on the planet today. May as well be happy with yourself!