Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Change in Latitude = A Change in Attitude

This entry may be a bit off season right now but I've been thinking about this subject in the last few days and thought it would be a good one to put up regardless.  Fashion / body image in Barcelona versus other countries.  It's not a long entry - just a quick observation that I've had for a while and have been meaning to write about.

As many of you have read in previous entries the fashion here is a bit on the extreme side.  And I've been trying to embrace it - going from my preppy US self to my new "Spanish" self.  It's coming along slowly but I'm making progress.  And I think in some ways I had no choice but to change - as it is I stand out here.  I've got pale skin, green eyes and red hair.  I go into some places and before a word has come out of my mouth they are speaking in English to me - happened 3 times just last week to me.  It's a bit annoying because I can't practice my Spanish if they speak to me in English.  But alas, I'm determined that if my look is more "local" that perhaps this won't happen so much.  We shall see.

Women here exude confidence like nothing I have ever seen before.  They can make rags look like riches and can mix and match any color and pattern and still look fabulous.  I've concluded that it's not the fashion that makes them look great but their air of confidence about them.  They think they look great, therefore they do look great.  Projection, right Mom? 

And these women are always dressed up.  Never ever have I seen anyone go into the grocery store in sweats.  I was going to meet up with a classmate of Aidan's mom the other day and then go running.  It meant going into a big department store in my workout clothes.  In the end I didn't go running because my partner cancelled (Alefiya!!!!!!) but in actuality I was a little ambivilant about going into the store in my sweats.  How weird that is for me who would never have hesitated before to do that at home.  That's not to say that I dressed badly at home or dressed down all the time - not at all...but I never would have worried about running to meet someone in my sweats if I needed to do.

Yesterday I went to the spa with some friends which required me to wear my bathing suit.  At home that bathing suit would have been a tankini but here in Barcelona believe it or not, I feel like I stand out more in a tankini and so resort to my bikini.  It's such a strange thing.  We went to the beaches earlier in the season this year and I wore my tankini and most women, no matter the size or age, were wearing bikinis or going topless.  In some situations this is not a pretty sight, but again, no one seems to care and by being "overdressed" I actually think I call more attention to myself.  And so from there on out I've been wearing my bikini, attempting to wear it with confidence despite the belly that has held two children.

And yet when I went home in October and had a spa weekend, which suit do you think I brought with me?  My tankini of course.  Because at home, we are more aware of our body image and what people think of us and only young or super toned women are wearing bikinis.  And once you have children, you are "expected" to dress for your age as well as your body type.  The catalogs all show suits that are for your body type as well.  I would have been so self conscious if I had worn that bikini at home.  Again, strange feeling because I had never given this much thought before I moved here.

This weekend we head to London.  Our hotel has a pool and so I need to pack a bathing suit.  London, while fashionable, is like the States where it's a bit more conservative so it will be the tankini again.  Never have I put so much thought into my swimwear. I don't think I ever realized how much we dress to fit in with others and with the culture with which we reside.  I will say though given it's snowing in London now (flights are cancelled all over England) and below freezing temps (it's close to 50 here), I will forgo my fashionable jacket for my good Northface ski coat to stay warm while walking thru the streets of London, no matter how unfashionable it might be - brrrr!!!!!!


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