Adult women (especially ones who appear to be in their 30s or older) who wear animal-shaped hats (e.g., pandas, sock monkeys, kitty ears) in public, but not in contexts where costumes or unusual dress would be expected, like a comics convention or music festival.
Whenever I see one of these women, mostly in cold weather months
For maybe an hour after seeing a woman in an animal hat, if I have time to Google, I’ll find articles taking my side that grown women shouldn’t wear kitty-ear hats.
I don’t know if it’s envy, resentment or an unpleasant reminder of a past where I was unhappy. I won’t bore you with the details, but I used to call myself an artist. And I used to dress… differently. I dyed my hair unusual colors, bought weird clothes from thrift stores, and I crocheted my own unusual hats and wore them. I seemed to enjoy looking strange and getting comments. I would wear Halloween wigs in spring, wear neon orange gortex jackets as blazers, buy shoes just because they were ugly. I’d come up with unusual looks, like my life was performance art. I had fun, sometimes, but I think my style was so over the top partly because I thought I was ugly—an issue that a toxic boyfriend I was with for far too long in my 20s encouraged. He never called me pretty, ever, and said he was proud not to be dating a conventionally attractive girl, because it meant he wasn’t shallow.
I think I thought if I tried to dress like a “normal” woman, people would just see this ugly weird girl trying to think she can pull off normal.
Meanwhile, at the same time, I was depressed and not getting treatment for it. I let my boyfriend dissuade me. Instead I tried some psychedelic drugs, which probably didn’t help. My career was flailing—I couldn’t hold down a job or find one I liked long enough to stay more than a year or two, at most. And then the mean boyfriend who thought he was great for dating a not-pretty girl became physically abusive.
I’m 40 now. I dumped and distanced myself from the abusive boyfriend. I stopped the experiments and saw a doctor for antidepressants, which have really helped. I started seeing, then married a guy who told me he couldn’t believe how pretty I was on the first date.
During the economic downturn, after an exhausting search, I landed a job in a conservative company in a conservative industry was determined not to lose it. That meant no more face piercings, manic panic hair colors, rainbow platform sneakers, wearing mechanic shirts with strange men’s names on them as a dress shirt or a raincoat as a blazer. I checked out books from the library on how to dress for the office, I felt so clueless. I had a department store sales clerk show me how to put on makeup properly. I went to a nail salon repeatedly just to study all the steps so I could buy products to do my own at home. I have a hairdresser that I’ve been with nearly as long as I’ve been married. I’ve slowly built a wardrobe of nice, professional looking, tasteful clothes. I sold off the weird stuff to a consignment shop—let the students buy it. I still have my own preferences—I carry a Betsey Johnson bag, not a Michael Kors; I love wearing solid colored tights; I’m not a slave to trends; etc.
Not only have kept the job I felt lucky to find 7 years ago, I’ve been great at it. I’ve been promoted a couple of times. I always get stellar performance reviews. I was named employee of the month in a company with almost 2000 employees. And i really like my job. I keep learning new things and taking on new challenges.
I think when I go to the grocery store and see a woman about my age in a panda bear hat, I might be projecting onto her the person I was when I was inclined to wear panda hats to the grocery store. I think, “Well of course she must think dressing goofy will deflect criticism from your body or face, like I used to.” Maybe I presume her love life is miserable or her career is going nowhere. Maybe I think she’s afraid of taking on responsibility and is clinging to an identity like being an artist for the sake of being an artist.
Or maybe I resent that these women still feel free not to care what people think about them. Maybe if weirder, younger me had found a better boyfriend in my 20s, I’d still be dressing off the wall and loving it.
Maybe I’m making up lies that I prefer looking this way—although I do. Nobody’s ever said “You’re an ugly person trying to look like an attractive one.” In fact, well, I get attention from men that I didn’t get when I dressed funny. I’m not looking but… I admit it’s a little nice. It’s like, hey, guess what, you weren’t ugly after all. They just couldn’t see how pretty you were under all that novelty yarn and glitter.
I have struggled with feeling like an impostor over success at my job and have even been to therapy about it. I sometimes feel like people at work are going to discover I’m an unloveably weird person underneath my professional presentation. It’s like I’m straddling two worlds—too square for the weirdos, too weird for the squares. The ladies with the Michael Kors purses and the ladies in the panda hats know who they are, but I don’t.
But do you like butter?
Yes but I found out very recently that I’m allergic 🙁