A woman walks alone through the mostly empty aisles, pushing a stroller. The stroller holds a baby girl, and an older boy follows at her heels. The looks she gets attempt to give her pity that she is alone with two children. She wears a wedding band on her finger, though no one seems to notice. They judge, they think her a young single mom, and don’t even think to ask.
She is not formally dressed. A pair of khaki capris, an orange tank top, black work boots and white socks completes her outfit. The looks are outraged that a mother, even a young one, should dare to dress in such a way. The older women are offended that she shows off her body, the younger ones disgusted at its appearance. They judge, and do not even consider from whence she gained those marks.
A heavy steel collar sits at her throat, its chain dangling down between her breasts. The looks are frightened of what they do not understand. They turn away and shake their heads, not knowing why she consents to wear such an accessory. They judge, and they do not care to know.
Such are the thoughts that crossed my mind as I took my two children to play at the local shopping mall. The looks, the snide comments both spoken and thought, both seem to wish to attack that which I am, and that which I choose to be.
I walk alone, with two children, because my husband sleeps during the day to get ready for his night job. I wear my wedding band prominently on my left hand, as is traditional and proper, though no one seems to have the foresight to look for it anymore. They would prefer to jump to conclusions, and to be as nasty as possible while doing it. They do not care to discover that I am not, in fact, a young single mom, as they seem wont to believe. They do not care to know anything that does not fit into their safe little box.
My appearance is not incredibly vulgar or strange. I dress sensibly for Florida temperatures, when my car does not have air conditioning. In this case it was a tank top and a pair of lightly colored capris. Why is this such an affront to the ambient population of St. Petersburg? We’re a beach town, but still the population of the town wishes you to walk around covered from neck to ankles, and doubly so if you have children. When did the wishes of the populace begin to outweigh common sense?
My collar is the piece that gives them the most pause. My heavy steel choke collar sits at my throat and does not leave it. It is a symbol of my subservience to my mate, but for most it just marks me as some sort of deviant, certainly someone who should not be bearing and raising children. I choose to wear my collar out of deference to my mate, not from some trend or fashion that may come and go. This is my lifestyle, but they choose not to see. They would rather see only what they wish to see.
I do not understand why it is seen as almost an obligation to judge and ridicule those who are different than you. I do not judge, I have no desire to judge anyone. Why, though, does it seem that all anyone wants to do is judge me?