Not Knowing What to Do - Cameryn Roach

It was another hot day in August, and I was walking down 60th street towards my block. With it being hot, I was able to finally wear a pair of shorts and let my legs get some air. Unfortunately, the usual catcalls followed my attempt to be somewhat comfortable in the intense heat. I walked past a group of guys huddled at the corner of the block I live on, and I hoped that I could walk by without an incident. But, of course, that wasn’t going to happen.

Teenagers and adults catcall in my direction every now and then, so it was a struggle figuring out what to wear with the air conditioner turned up high in my school during the day and the drastically high temperature change once I walked out the main entrance. Wearing a jacket and a short sleeve shirt seemed fine whilst inside, but after I get halfway to my bus stop there’s sweat marks all over my shirt. Turning to tank tops and tying the jacket around my waist handles my sweat problem until I get looks, nods, whistles, and comments thrown at me.

One time, to be specific, it was 92 degrees that day. When I stepped out the house that morning around 7:30 am it was about 75 degrees. The temperature in my school was at least 60 degrees, so I had to make sure I had a sweatshirt or some type of jacket with me when I went to school. Walking out the house with a sweatshirt on was a little uncomfortable because of the weather, but it would spare me from having to stop in school to put it on. Around that time there was a two week long heat wave happening, so everyday was a half day. Having to put the sweatshirt on then taking it off only a few hours later was getting frustrating, but I couldn’t control the weather so I had to deal with it. The bus ride relieved some of my tension since all the buses have air conditioning on them, yet my real problem was if there would be a group of guys at the corner of my block by the time I got off the bus. Sometimes they’d be there and other times they wouldn’t. There was no true pattern either, so I just had to hope for the best.

My parents try to make sure that I wear clothes that won’t attract unwanted attention when I’m outside by myself. I try to do the same whenever I have my own money for clothes I might want. It’s frustrating not being able to fully express your style or expand your comfort zone when a stranger’s opinion affects my decision. “Just ignore them,” a friend of mine said. “It’s what I do.” The thing is, I shouldn’t have to ignore them. I shouldn’t have to deal with them in the first place. There are times during the year where it gets hot and that’s when people decide to wear less clothing to help regulate their body temperature. Men like to call out women on the street because “she’s hot”, then get mad when she rejects them. If they just don’t do it in the first place, we wouldn’t have this issue.

I see girls at school and outside of school dress in many different ways. Sometimes it’s in a uniform because of the type of school they go to, or it’s however they please to dress if they aren’t held back by a dress code. I believe that the systematic power of beauty influences everyone into making certain decisions and evolving the way they think as they get older. It has its positive and negative effects in communities and in the world. The way someone dresses and the way someone wants to express their style should not be held back by strangers who give off an unsettling feeling when they think that proclaiming their interest in an inappropriate way is okay. If we can find more ways to help stop the process of sexualizing women in society, I believe that would help this issue more and it would prevent people from writing more stories like this.