The “Duh!” Moment As many “duh” moments do, this one took time to build up and peak. It was years consumed with refusing to wear tank tops in public and frantically looking for an undershirt because the neckline of that shirt was just a little too low. Shaving and re-shaving my legs every day in the shower, powered by the fear that someone would notice an errant patch of hair on the back of my thigh. The high point of this insane search for an “acceptable” appearance was desperately trying to sew the “V” of a t-shirt that cut a little too far before I had to leave for school. This “duh” moment finally broke with the realization of a fact that I had steadfastly ignored for the past five years; the reality is: no one cares.
No one cares what you look like, contrary to the strict rules enforced by the ever-present BCPSS Dress Code or my well- meaning mom. Yes, people are staring at your bra through your shirt- it is a constant in life- but they feel no emotion while doing it, they do not care enough about you. Coincidentally, this is exactly how my “duh” moment came to be, through staring at a girl’s bra through her sheer shirt. I could not understand it at first, isn’t this girl mortified? We can see her bra- straps, cups, the works! This is my worst case scenario, the Armageddon that I had always feared. As I was pondering this, the “duh” moment hit- I felt nothing. All of those thoughts about the insanity of wearing a see-through shirt and blatantly displaying a bra failed to pierce my ice-cold heart. I felt no need to call this girl a “slut” in my head, I felt no ill will to her; I did not even think she looked bad. I feel nothing towards her and because I do not care about her bra, it is very likely that no one else does either.
This “duh” moment would have been impossible without the conflicting forces of Baltimore School for the Arts. There are the dancers, beautiful dolls with every stray eyebrow plucked, every bun tightly coiled, and all clothes perfectly pleasant. If a midriff is shown, it is in good taste, but their attire is never crude or dirty. This is the expectation that hid the truth of the situation from me for so long, the standard that postponed the “duh” moment.
The anonymous girl in the sheer shirt was just the face of the counter-force, the real movement was driven by the kids who wore footy pajamas to class, who chose not to shave their legs, who wore clothing so ridiculous that the administrators could do nothing but shake their heads in disappointed disbelief. These heroes, these saviors, confirmed the sneaking suspicion that was lurking in the back of my mind. They dressed like that- hair askew and stomachs bared because they felt like it and realized that no one would remember or care what bizarre ensemble they threw on that day.
In retrospect, my “duh” moment may not have that classic rush of stupid understanding, like pushing a pull door, but as I saw that girl living my worst nightmare, and enjoying it, the sudden illumination struck me as forcefully as the other classic “duh” moments. The state of uncaring, of looking but not feeling, was revealed to me. The fact that it takes a lot more than an exposed bra to make an impression on me, to make me feel something, was previously ignored, for I had been living in a fantasy land where everybody seemed to care about everything. Now, as I walk down the hallway in bright red pants, I take comfort in the fact that no one cares enough about me to judge me- I am another faceless figure whom they have already forgotten.