Monday 7 November 2011

cooler than the red dress...

I was out running at about half-ten on Saturday morning. It was my usual four-and-a-bit miles around and, like most of the runs that I’ve done over the last few weeks, it felt like a bit of a slog. I consciously tried to run a little slower than normal in an attempt to find a more comfortable pace, and at first this seemed to be working and I was able to focus on the world around me a little instead of disappearing into my own private world of pain. By the last mile, however, it felt like I was towing a caravan. My legs didn’t feel too heavy, but I felt weak right across my arms and shoulders and it was a real effort to drive myself forwards. In the last half mile, as I turned away from the river towards home, I saw something that dragged my focus away from my own misery and kept me amused all the way home.

Like any Saturday morning, the streets around where I live were filled with a fairly steady trickle of people, especially family groupings, emerging from their homes to wander into town with their kids. It was a grey, damp day with a bit of a chill in the air, and most people were wrapped up in coats and hats. I say most people, because as I ran down the street, I could see in front of me a figure wearing an outfit that was causing people to stop and stare: a blonde girl in a sheer, very short, strappy orangey-red dress. Amongst people wearing their drab coats, she stood out an absolute mile, and people were stopping to stare.

As I got closer, I saw that not only was the dress every bit as short and incongruous as it looked from 50m further behind her, but she was walking through the wet, grimy streets in bare feet, swinging her towering heels in her left hand. There was only one sensible explanation: here was someone doing the walk of shame; walking home wearing her outfit from the evening before after spending the night with someone else. There was no hiding it, and as I ran past her, I have to admit that she was walking with a bit of a spring in her step, a smile on her face and a definite swagger. She might have been incongruous in the dull light of a suburban Saturday morning, but she looked good.

Chapeau, mademoiselle. Chapeau.

Here's a question for you: do you think that the very term “walk of shame” reinforces gender sexual stereotypes?  I mention this as I was trying to think if a man walking home under the same circumstances would have provoked a similar response.  As they would likely be dressed differently, I suppose not.  As a man, you don’t tend to wear clothing that would look as jarringly incongruous the morning after… a tuxedo is likely to be from the evening before, but it’s hardly as revealing, and a skinny shirt and a pair of shiny shoes is hardly in the same ballpark as a micro-skirt and stilettos, is it?  It was probably the clothing that attracted the attention to this girl, but was there an implicit,  gender-based judgement too?

If there was, then she looked gloriously impervious to it….


  1. I suppose there is. I've heard of men doing "the walk of shame," but it's more tongue-in-cheek when referring to men.

    Had I seen this woman, I think I would have smiled, perhaps even winked, and thought "Good for you!" *G*

  2. Maybe the smile was for both reasons: both the reason why she was dressed like she was and because everybody was looking at her.

  3. I've done the walk of shame, and truth be told, nobody noticed. You feel the walk inside, and often there's no shame at all. Sometimes I miss the thrill of it, but there's terror in it as well.