Fourth Wave
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Fourth Wave

Claiming Back Women’s Right to Comfort

Comfort is your birthright, you don’t have to earn it

Photo by Eli DeFaria on Unsplash

You can tell how long a couple has been dating, judging by the level of (dis)comfort of her clothes and shoes, not his. No amount of male grooming matches up the level of seemingly self-inflicted discomfort women go through.

The miseducation of…

Women are trained from an impossibly young age to wear uncomfortable clothes, shoes and hairdos, and while we are at that, smile and be pretty as if discomfort was part of our very nature. Sanctioned by an early and unjustified movement restriction order, girls need to refrain from playing hard, they need to contain their range of motion and e-motions, dumb down the full expression of themselves, swallow sheer pain, and live with that happily ever after.

We are brought up to believe that comfort is something we need to earn, like the points we need to collect for free extra legroom, like shoes that become comfortable after a few blisters, like diamonds under pressure.

Girls are taught to embrace discomfort unilaterally and own it like a badge of honor, to make everybody else feel comfortable.

As we grow older it does not get any better, we end up wearing clothes and shoes that impede us from moving through life with leisure, our bodies are enveloped in sarcophagi to take less space, and our steps are made unsteady to look less intimidating. The pressure to comply evolves, our clothes just never fit lose enough to allow a full belly breath, unbearable high waists, embarrassing low cuts, garments designed to leave marks on our bodies, tear our ankles and fuck up our spine.

Pinched, scarred and suffocating, we keep swallowing. We face all adversities with a welcoming smile, while trying to adapt quickly to new body imperatives and the fashion dictamen du jour, both of which challenge the laws of nature, defeating physics, gravity and even mechanics. No you look good today can make up for the internal turmoil.

Diligent and domesticated, women have internalized discomfort to a fault.

Feeling uncomfortable…

As we grow older we discover that the early tolerance for physical discomfort was just an initiation we had to pass to access greater discomforts touching all dimensions of our human experience, from walking down the street alone, to abusive relations and toxic workplaces. Discomfort for which we are asked constantly to take responsibility, yet without disrupting anybody else’s comfort.

Only recently have we started to dissect our own discomfort to understand that — whatever it is — it is not us, period.

Women are not here to make anyone feel comfortable, comfort is our prerogative.

As we slowly start acknowledging and sharing our discomforts, we can also see how uncomfortable it has quickly got for the population who was thriving on women’s discomfort.

Then Covid-19 came

We needed a global pandemic to hit us — women — square in the face, to sense the nonsense, and to realize how screwed up the entire female discomfort-based culture was and still is.

We thought suffering — maybe even martyrdom — was part of our DNA, to then find out it is not nature but nurture. Bang!

Behind the safe doors of our homes we started exploring comfort, clothes that embrace our bodies, fabrics that caress our skins, shapes that respect our curves, no padding, no armors, no fighting with zippers, no holding our breaths, no cursing in front of the mirror, no more terror and violence to ourselves. (For the male ear, it is possible that you may not comprehend the size and the potency of such a tsunami).

Say what? We can work and breathe at the same time? You mean I will not be judged by what I wear? Seriously? Awe-some.

Camera off, we found a new form of emancipation by wearing leggings and sweatpants during working hours, hurray. At the beginning, we waited at the front door with something nice to wear just in case “the discomfort police” came around to reprimand us for our rebellious take on comfort, then we gave up, nobody showed up.

Almost delirious, the liberation women felt by wearing comfortable clothes, as if before they had not the right to do so, which was partially true.

Comfort is a sign of love

Comfort is a sign of love and confidence, the more discomfort you are ready to swallow to be accepted, heard and loved, the thinner the ice under your stilettos. The more confident you feel, the more you will allow yourself to just be, being comfortable without having to cling to stuff, status and looks, naturally lets confidence surface, comfort means we trust we are being loved and accepted for who we are, starting from ourselves.

Comfort and discomfort are contagious, the more you are enduring discomfort the more you will ask others to endure it, on the other hand the more comfortable you make yourself, the more you will demand it from others around you.

This said, enjoy wearing high heels and airtight clothes if that is your thing, but please be aware of what drives your choices, one thing is to wear a miniskirt out of fear or insecurity, another is to wear it out of freedom, by the way the same applies for long skirts, or any-length skirts for that matters :-).

As women we have been put on pedestals to compete for looks, and never won even when we did. We have built a society and an economy that sow fear and reap discomfort, a society that imposes conflicting and impossible-to-achieve one-sided aesthetic and moral canons for women. We have spent our lives excusing ourselves for not looking good enough, for not being enough of everything — never saint enough, never bitch enough — to then be labeled ungrateful neurotics.

As we surf in and out of new waves of Covid-19, with restrictions being enforced or lifted, let’s all hold on to our leggings like there is no tomorrow. Let’s never forget that like any other species on this planet we are entitled to comfort by birthright, it is not a concession. Anyone not getting this very basic concept, please brace for impact or just get out of our way.

There is no way we are going to access our comfort without affecting the status quo i.e. other people’s comfort, you can not ask an earthquake to spare tall buildings just because they look intimidating, the tremor runs too deep in the veins of mother Earth to spare anything.

Since we are in it for the long haul, we might just as well make ourselves comfortable.

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Changing the world for the better, one story at a time, with a focus on women and other disempowered groups

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Cristina Comunian

Cristina Comunian

Before the straightjacket feels comfortable again, I hit "publish".

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