A Brief Ode to Shorts

A “brief” ode to shorts! Get it? “Brief” shorts? Hahaha, okay… Nevermind.

Today it is 91 degrees, with a perceived temperature of 107 (according to the weather station). A little higher than normal, but it’s a scorcher. In honor of this summer’s weather, I present a personally crafted haiku:

Lost shorts of freedom
Heavy weighs my pant prison
Oh forbidden dream

Shorts are heavily frowned upon in public here, so it’s pants for me! I have never been so appreciative of belonging to a culture where I can wear what I want, when I want, where I want. Wearing shorts here increases the amount of harassment a woman faces public and is just “not done.”┬áIt’s been interesting to see what from the fashion world is permissible and what is not. For example, shorts are indecent but it is not uncommon to wear sheer tops that you can see bras through.

In a desperate attempt to beat the heat, I recently tried to go capri/skirt shopping. I have to admit that I was expecting to have some trouble finding clothes that would fit– I am a bit differently shaped than the majority of women here and was not sure I could find a size small enough to work. The surprise was all mine when I realized I couldn’t find anything big enough– the largest pant size I could find was a 6/7 (US size). In three stores. I was shocked. And then curious.

Dominicans dress up to go everywhere: to school, the store, across the street to Tia Maria’s, everywhere. But one of the things I have noticed is the variety of styles sported by each social group. In the more affluent and middle-class neighborhoods, many people wear clothes that fit the same way they do in the States– no stuffing, no rolling, etc. Most of these clothes come from the mall and have American labels. The next level in the fashion hierarchy wears flashier clothes that fit a bit more tightly across areas that clothes perhaps ought not fit too tightly across (and accordingly also seem to restrict breathing and a few other vital bodily functions). I truly admire the confidence required to wear such colors, buttons and patterns but wonder how in the world they fit such fashions on. Ideas surrounding physical beauty here are much different– one host mom recently complimented her departing American daughter on finally filling out her derriere and while my mother has never said such a thing, we usually eat more in one sitting than I eat in an entire day back home (and I can eat an entire pizza by myself, if that tells you anything). After I mentioned my adventures in clothes-hunting to a friend today, he pondered if Dominicans might not also have a different sense of how clothes fit on the body. It is an interesting question: Do clothes fit tightly here because they are supposed to or because larger sizes are only more readily available from the pricier American brands? Food for thought.

In the meanwhile- so long shorts, see you in back in Colorado!