Pink Tights and the New Black Woman

11 Sep

I have no interest in reading about fashion. But an article called A Man’s Guide to a Woman’s Wardrobe isn’t really going to be about fashion, is it?

And I spotted it in More Intelligent Life, so it’s sure to be smart and well-written. Perfect with my chai latte at Starbucks after Zumba.

Forget about fashion, I liked the article as a piece of writing.  And one paragraph made me laugh out loud:

If the maxi dress is a practical way of enjoying a fashion fantasy, brightly coloured tights are a sign either of total self-confidence, or disturbing self-delusion. For although they channel kookiness, they demand incredibly good legs to pull off with any aplomb. The wearer is probably either a supermodel, a fantasist or a potter.

If my Zumba friends ever read my blog (and they don’t), or if anyone who reads my blog came along with me to Zumba (and you won’t), I wouldn’t now have to describe how I am transformed every day after work into a totally self-confident, disturbingly self-deluded kook with chartreuse or majenta legs.

(Kooks, by the way, do many things with no aplomb, and it disturbs them not at all. Same goes for fantasists.)

I like to write, but I think my best genre is the humble and derivative blog comment; and, here, circumstances were ripe for my favorite variety of comment: short, light and a little flirty, making a tiny bit of fun of the author, but mostly making fun of myself. So I wrote to Mr. Luke Leitch, the author (and anyone else who will read):

Here I sit, in my hot pink tights, reading, and thinking that a man who writes about women’s clothes either has total self-confidence or is disturbingly self-deluded.

I applaud the author’s kookiness and imagine that he has great legs.

I finished my chai and packed up my laptop, feeling comfortable in my kooky skin. And kooky tights.

Then, later in the day,  The New Black Woman leaves poor Mr. Leitch a scathing comment, complaining of many things, including:

…the author only had a desire to analyze women from the upper crust–rich white women–as if their sense of fashion was only worth exploring and analyzing. Were the fashion statements of poor white women, women of color, disabled, transgender and GLBTQ women worth not exploring and analyzing for your article?

If I rolled my eyes the first time I read The New Black Woman‘s comment, it was a self-conscious eye-roll.

This New Black Woman, I learn from her blog, is fed up with the degradation and subjugation that black women face. She says it’s time for a revolution. Her current post is about confronting privilege.

I compared her comment to mine; her blog to mine; and I felt confused, and then a little guilty and then just weary.  Tired, as Dylan says, of myself and all of my creations. My winking, chai-infused kookiness in pink part of “the wall of privilege, denial and diversionary tactics” new black women lament?

So far, this weekend, my comment on Mr. Leitch’s post has 20 likes;  New Black Woman has 16.

And I don’t know how to cast my vote.

75 Responses to “Pink Tights and the New Black Woman”

  1. dafna September 11, 2011 at 12:19 pm #

    from one kook to another, i salute you!

    yesterday wearing red “HO” high heels, a red plastic fedora, one piece khaki dress with red belt, i danced the early evening (too old to stay up past 12:00) away to live cuban music.

    not ONE single other soul was dancing, and i am NOT a good dancer. people stared, but the band was pleased.

    was i self-delude or self-confident? who gives a hoot.

    was it a pretty sight? my good friend JOE and designated driver thought so.

    all i could think of was, “when did people start taking themselves so seriously?”

    • jenny September 12, 2011 at 5:46 am #

      Dear dafna,

      First, “danced the early evening away” is very funny! I wish I had said it.

      Next, your dance get-up sounds great. I would have danced with you. Any music.

      Finally, about 9/11, my thoughts on the topic will inevitably be all about me.

  2. dafna September 11, 2011 at 12:30 pm #

    how about a post about 9/11 and what we may or may not have learned since them.

    my greatest concern today is that security in the states is terrible. if there is a threat, it is NOT to NY. it will be to the midwest, a crowded football game or baseball game, wedding or child-care center.

    why? because that is our backyard, where we feel the safest, which is why it will cause the most fear. straight out of any terrorists playbook.

    for those of you who don’t know – my father immigrated from israel. and when he first arrived he received a package with no return address which he was not expecting. he did what any one israeli would do – he called the bomb squad.

    how does this relate to your post?

    we are also so darn busy worried about what others might think that we don’t even say thoughts like the above about safety, nor would the average american be comfortable calling the bomb squad about a suspicious package.

    • jenny September 12, 2011 at 5:49 am #

      By the way, dafna, my husband also immigrated from Israel. Having first emigrated from the Soviet Union. And I agree: his perspective on 9/11 was different.

  3. dafna September 11, 2011 at 12:32 pm #

    since then

  4. sledpress September 11, 2011 at 12:50 pm #

    I think that anyone who reads too much, too seriously into fashion one way or another needs at the very least a stiff chai. Though I confess myself to finding excessive preoccupation with fashion a sign of not having enough to think about, whether it is about following it or about analyzing what it means to follow it.

    In the end, we all have the same asses to cover.

    • jenny September 12, 2011 at 5:53 am #

      Dear Sled:

      Yeah, I don’t care about fashion, but I do care about how black women and white women often don’t talk to each other very well. And I think about my part in it.

      • sledpress September 12, 2011 at 11:18 am #

        I don’t know if you really are under any obligation to worry about your part in it. What I noticed was New Black Woman’s over-reaction to something that was about silly crap to begin with. If the article were about seeking work, choosing a college, staying safe on the street, finding a place to buy or rent, or something that matters at the end of the day, it would be fair to rip into someone for only writing about the matter as it involved privileged white women, but *fashion statements*???

        Shoes keep your feet from scraping the ground, pants cover your butt, bras keep your boobs from getting caught in things, shirts keep your lifting belt from giving you boils, you choose the color you like best, what else is there?

      • jenny September 13, 2011 at 5:34 am #


        I’m holding on to that explanation of the purpose of bras. 🙂

        I also want to respond in earnest, though: I’m never sure I’m right when I think something is silly.

        An acquaintance recently said to me (partly joking, but not entirely): Are you ever going to write about anything important on your blog?

      • sledpress September 13, 2011 at 8:36 am #

        I try to write about important things as little as possible and only when I am driven to it. There are enough people out there trying to make themselves consequential by writing about “important things.” (Look at me! I have an opinion about education/the Republican debates/the war — whichever one is on at the moment/climate change.) It wears a body out just to behold them. I did say something about 9/11 last week but only because exasperation drove me to it.

  5. Philippe September 11, 2011 at 2:07 pm #

    In his piece, Luke Leitch said, “……fashion is to many women what sport is to many men: a pastime, a passion, a shared language, a form of self-definition, and a temporary escape from the opposite sex, all rolled into one deeply satisfying whole……..”

    I couldn’t have put it better myself!!!

    In Leitch’s next sentence, if you do some substitution you’ll see how true his observation is. “….Most men (women) regard this female (male) passion (beauty/sport) from a default position of distrust, derision or at best patronising tolerance…..”.

    Going into the New Black Woman’s blog I looked over her recommended reading list. I noted with disappointment that it didn’t include “The Beauty Myth” by Naomi Wolff , that I think all women should read.

    However, I was gratified to see that the list included “The Female Brain” by Louann Brizendine, that, absolutely definitely, all men should read.

    • jenny September 12, 2011 at 5:56 am #

      Well, I haven’t read “The Female Brain” (though perhaps I’ve lived it), so I’ll get to it.

      Nice job mixing up the language with sport. You’re so right about that. And I’m guilty.

  6. Thomas Stazyk September 11, 2011 at 2:24 pm #

    Zumba and chai latte? This is a whole new side of you!

    I find myself sympathizing more with New Black Woman but I’m undecided how to cast my vote, too.

    • jenny September 12, 2011 at 5:57 am #


      Ditch the workout. Join the party.


  7. Philippe September 11, 2011 at 3:59 pm #

    “…..I compared her comment to mine; her blog to mine; and I felt weary, and then a little guilty and then just confused. A little tired, as Dylan says, of myself and all of my creations……..”

    Both comments were fine in their own way. Each spoke a truth. So,

    “….be gentle with yourself.
    You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars;
    you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you,
    no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should…….”

    Has this yet been set to a Zumba rhythm?

    • dafna September 11, 2011 at 6:40 pm #

      beautiful poem philippe, one of my favorites.

    • jenny September 12, 2011 at 5:58 am #

      Thanks. Thanks. Thanks, Philippe!

      And I think a bachata would work. 🙂

  8. LTE September 11, 2011 at 7:08 pm #

    “And I don’t know how to cast my vote.”
    New Black Woman always manages to find a gray cloud on the sunniest of days. Trust me, people like her will never be happy.
    Now go out and wear something us men can be amused by.

    • jenny September 12, 2011 at 6:02 am #

      @LTE: Your last thought–one that would have vexed a younger me–makes me smile.

  9. Paul Costopoulos September 12, 2011 at 8:32 am #

    “Des goûts et des couleurs, il ne faut pas discuter”, old French proverb. Why do we need referenda on almost everything? This is not Switzerland after all.

    • dafna September 12, 2011 at 8:36 am #

      my mother used to say this expression often paul 🙂

    • jenny September 13, 2011 at 5:38 am #

      Paul, I guess people do it anyway though (discuter, that is). So much so, that we need a proverb to remind us to cut it out.

  10. dafna September 12, 2011 at 8:41 am #


    i had forgotten about your husband being israeli. you probably already know but philippe’s poem is aptly names “desiderata”.

    as far as my views on violence, i am that rare anomaly called a pacifist. but i do think we should be aware of our surroundings. every once in a while there is something that qualifies as “imminent threat” like the distracted driver or the man walking way too close at night.

  11. Hieronymo September 12, 2011 at 10:23 am #

    What’s a zumba?

    • jenny September 13, 2011 at 5:43 am #

      Hieronymo, in my perfect universe, you never learn what zumba is.

      By the way, my nephew was so pleased with the Zoomorphs that I got a phone conversation out of it. Thanks.

  12. Andreas Kluth September 12, 2011 at 10:43 am #

    My god, I learned so much from this post. This blog is good for me. I will up my dosage.

    First, I followed the links and learned about the famale psyche. Who knew that about the crotch trends in the jeans category? I mean, who knew in that deeper sense? You know, I mean, I now really get the whole female thing. Gonna try it out on my wife after work.

    Then I google Zumba. I’m in!

    Are you one of those three? As I said, I’m in.

    Oh, regarding New Black Woman: Sad, so sad, until one realizes that we need humorless people around to feel humorous ourselves. And hip and Zumban.

    I think I’ll cut a fine figure on the Zumba floor, by the way.

    • jenny September 13, 2011 at 5:52 am #

      Why, Andreas, this is my favorite kind of comment!

      Zumba just needs a few philosophical underpinnings and we will be as formidable as yoga.

  13. dafna September 12, 2011 at 12:27 pm #

    humorless indeed. i said it first.

    jenny, i’m going to “hazard” a guess. if you ever do write about 9/11 – it won’t be about you.

    underneath your wit is a woman so much harder on herself than the world could ever be, and a person who has a sense of social justice that goes way beyond “jewish guilt”. i think philippe sees it too?

    so give yourself a break already.

    • jenny September 13, 2011 at 5:54 am #

      Oh, dafna! I think this is where I get to say:

      I’m the only cause I’m interested in.


      I stick my neck out for nobody.


      • Philippe September 13, 2011 at 12:22 pm #

        Well said, for it doesn’t take much to see that the problems of us little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.

      • jenny September 13, 2011 at 12:27 pm #


        One my goals for this blog is to see how many Casablanca quotes I can work into the comments.

        By the way, I hope you’re more impressed with me now.

  14. Cyberquill September 12, 2011 at 2:52 pm #

    So this “new black woman” lady would have preferred the author to have analyzed the fashion senses of six different categories of women separately? What a waste of time that would have been. Just because some women can’t afford to maintain second residences to store their clothes doesn’t mean they wouldn’t if they could. Strip away practical/financial limitations as well as natural variations among individuals regarding aesthetics and priorities in life, and the female fashion sense most likely turns out to be strikingly uniform all across the entire estrogen board.

    • jenny September 13, 2011 at 5:59 am #

      I don’t think fashion sense is the same across the estrogen board, CQ. If it were, my Russian immigrant friends wouldn’t be so fond of leopard-skin prints.

      • Cyberquill September 13, 2011 at 7:59 am #

        Fashion sense not in terms of the particular style and type of the clothes themselves, but in terms of the level of importance attire occupies in a woman’s life and her emotional attachment to her wardrobe, whatever exactly that wardrobe may consist of.

        Besides, when I was a kid, I wore leopard-print speedos all summer long. They were my favorites. So if anything, a predilection for leopard-skin prints suggests a degree of sartorial uniformity that transcends even all sexes, ages, and nationalities.

  15. Man of Roma September 13, 2011 at 10:47 am #

    Now I know what Zumba is, thanks to you, to Andreas and the rest. I only wonder whether the effect of much much zumbaing are those flat, man-like hips.

  16. jenny September 13, 2011 at 11:52 am #

    I think those girls look OK, Roma. But Paul has already warned me that this is the sort of thing about which il ne faut pas discuter.

    Whatevs. We can all agree (thank you, Cyberquill!) that leopard skin is a fine print.

    The clip Andreas chose misses the fun. It’s more like this:

    • Andreas Kluth September 13, 2011 at 5:39 pm #

      Your clip has more fun, but my clip has better belly buttons. Priorities.

      • jenny September 14, 2011 at 5:43 am #

        A writer with an interest in belly buttons and brains? A true generalist.

  17. Man of Roma September 13, 2011 at 12:51 pm #

    Very contagious. You have convinced me about Zumba. Totally. We should ALL go to Marseilles and have some fun out there.

  18. Philippe September 13, 2011 at 8:17 pm #

    Your post shows clearly that you belong to Zumba. You’re a part of it, the thing that keeps you going. So you should master it, for if you don’t, you’ll regret it. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life.

    • jenny September 14, 2011 at 5:45 am #

      Philippe, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship. 🙂

  19. sledpress September 13, 2011 at 9:32 pm #

    All I know about this Zumba stuff is that every one of my clients who takes a dance aerobics or Yoga class complains about the over-eager Zumba people hovering and crowding in ten minutes before their class time so that Yoga people trying to relax on mats in Savasana feel as if they are being molested by Homeland Security. Bleagh. Please tell me you don’t do that.

    • jenny September 14, 2011 at 5:41 am #

      Sled, it’s all true. We have been shushed many times for being loud in the hall while the yoga ladies try to relax. But, but, it’s the opposite of Homeland Security. I have theory that Zumba will, with its appealing Spanish lyrics, dissolve resentment about the growing Latino population. Just a theory: feet and hips first, then hearts and minds.

      I’ve thought it might be funny to complain to the yoga practitioners that when they come out of class so peaceful and calm, it kind of messes up our attitude. Could they please be a little more considerate?

      • sledpress September 14, 2011 at 8:35 am #

        I’m beaming tranquil white light at you from another time zone even as I write, and note that I’m not even meant to be very good at it.

      • sledpress September 14, 2011 at 8:47 am #

        PS. Latin music at any time never sounds to me like anything but the sound of people being viciously gleeful at their ability to make rhythmic, intrusive noise that tears up other people’s peace and quiet. So it’s just not going to help here…

  20. Philippe September 14, 2011 at 12:20 am #

    What’s an aficionado of Zumba called? A Zumbian?

    • Thomas Stazyk September 14, 2011 at 12:50 am #

      Based on those videos, I’m sure that there is a complex taxonomy that the uninitiated are not allowed to know. Like the freemasons.

  21. dafna September 14, 2011 at 7:06 am #

    very very funny!

  22. Richard September 16, 2011 at 1:48 am #

    All healthy animals groom themselves and their environment. Body decoration is a natural and human elaboration of this. It is also a mark of high status. Some modern women are allowing their status to be reasoned away.

    • jenny September 16, 2011 at 6:45 am #

      Hmm. Really?

      Leopard prints, hot pink tights, Zumba…and not a single limerick?

      • Richard September 16, 2011 at 8:20 am #

        I have a crisis of confidence. Aficionados tell me limericks deliberately flout the rules of rhyme and metre.

        The rhythm method is discredited.

      • jenny September 16, 2011 at 12:59 pm #

        @RIchard: 🙂

        But crisis of confidence is no laughing matter. Happens to me all the time. Ugh.

        Have a good weekend.

        @Sled: OK, forget the music; perhaps we can bring you around with guacamole and a mojito?

      • Thomas Stazyk September 16, 2011 at 3:19 pm #

        Did you really want to go there?

        A current craze of the masses
        Is Zumba exercise classes
        They wear hot pink tights
        And leopard skin frights
        As they seek to firm up their asses.

      • jenny September 16, 2011 at 4:51 pm #

        Yay! Tom! This is what I’m talking about! Of course, I wanted to go there. Where else? Where else?

        I’m taking your limerick to class with me right now–to share with todas las chicas. Terrific. Thanks. 🙂 Best laugh I’ve had all day!

      • sledpress September 16, 2011 at 7:45 pm #

        I had a mojito once; didn’t grab me. (I like my liquor herby and Scotchly, with a diversion into medicinal bitters). Guacamole is OK. I just don’t like cultures that seem to be all about people having huge families and then cramming as many of themselves as they possibly can into one room and making lots and lots of rhythmic noise and being *convivial* (sounds way too much like some people I am unfortunately related to in the Deep South, whom I hope have forgotten I exist ten times over). I’m a Celt on my father’s side and when I’m not a Celt I’m a Viking, and that means lots of cold clean air and deathly, spooky silence. Clamor is only acceptable in battle, preferably in the face of death. Large families, throbbing rhythms and vivid colors are the equivalent of nails on a blackboard.

      • Richard September 16, 2011 at 10:58 pm #

        jenny, this work of Thomas’s is of supreme elegance. Note how the rhymes focus irresistibly on the final hint of bawdiness where all tension is released. Does he disdain Limerick Corner as beneath artistic merit?

        no,no,no,no,no,no ….. NO. He has withdrawn without even leaving a sample because you have laughed at him as being of the rhythm method school.

      • jenny September 17, 2011 at 6:27 am #

        @Richard — 🙂

        @sled — Piñata? 😉

      • sledpress September 17, 2011 at 8:10 am #

        I *HATE* Pinatas. They teach children that it’s fun to hit animals with blunt instruments and that you get a reward for it. When I see various animal pinatas on display in windows I want to buy them all up so that they won’t be abused and destroyed.

        Seriously. What’s to like about commotion, and childish glee at cruelty in effigy? It makes me feel like crying, going back to when I was small myself.

      • Thomas Stazyk September 17, 2011 at 4:13 pm #

        @ Jenny–glad you enjoyed! We should try to come up with a few more stanzas and create “The Zumbiad.” It would be epic!

      • jenny September 18, 2011 at 6:25 am #

        @Tom: The Zumbiad? I like it! We must tell this story. Who else will speak for these women who have no voice of their own?

        Next month, at an all-day event just outside O’Hare, I’m going to earn the title of certified Zumba instructor. It’s been a long road.

        The Zumbiad is my story, Tom. The Zumbiad is everyone’s story.

      • jenny September 18, 2011 at 6:30 am #

        @sled, who hates, inter alia, piñatas:

      • Thomas Stazyk September 18, 2011 at 3:31 pm #

        My duty is clear:

        Book The First

        Sing, O muse of the spandex clad throng . . .

        (Waiting for the muse to get back to me!)

  23. Paul Costopoulos September 16, 2011 at 2:09 pm #

    Richard, the Ogino method has been discretedited for a very long time, but I may be on the wrong rythm.
    However, I prefer Zumba to Bunga Bunga.

    • Richard September 16, 2011 at 10:59 pm #

      Yet Thomas is still an adherent, Paul.

  24. dafna September 18, 2011 at 12:35 pm #

    oh my goodness.

    there is a “zumbatomic” class at the JCC. they are trying to kill us.

    ugh… poor me! yes, i’m on my pity pod. ran out of my med last week and just getting back on track. my grammar and typos are worse than usual.

    for our fun and free activity, i suggest performance art. you can be words and i’ll be hand gestures?

  25. Man of Roma September 20, 2011 at 12:27 pm #

    That we are today considered the nation of the Bunga Bunga is a tad annoying.

    • dafna September 21, 2011 at 5:31 pm #

      what’s bunga bunga? i thought paul was kidding…

      jenny – radio silence? everything is o.k. i hope.

      • jenny September 22, 2011 at 7:59 am #

        I’m fine, Dafna. Thanks.

        I hope you are, too, and that bar mitzvah preparations are coming along.

      • Man of Roma September 22, 2011 at 1:42 pm #

        Dafna, let us draw a veil upon the Bunga Bunga thing. It’s on ALL newspapers all over the world in any case 😦

  26. dafna September 28, 2011 at 5:56 pm #

    Happy New Year Jenny, Cheri, Steve, me and Everyone!

    • jenny September 29, 2011 at 9:48 pm #

      Dear Dafna:

      A sweet New Year to you too! I’m chanting on YK, if you can believe that. Minha service, but still a pretty big deal. Hoping not to screw it up. 🙂

      • dafna September 30, 2011 at 10:39 pm #

        Wow, that’s great Jenny, you’ll be terrific. the good news is that if you make a mistake most of the congregation won’t know the difference. at least that’s what i keep assuring jacob 😉

        my good friend is catholic and sings for the cleveland orchestra. she took a paid gig singing for a conservative congregation. she has been to more services than me this year! she’s did her last one for rosh hashanah tonite – then she starts allll over again for YK.

  27. dafna October 3, 2011 at 5:12 pm #

    The Bee Gees are sooo cool! really, i think they are/were awesome.

    • jenny October 3, 2011 at 6:19 pm #

      Agreed, Dafna.

      Now, because this jive talkin post of mine started out (many comments ago) with a reference to an article about women’s changing fashion statements, I have to ask what the hell is the deal with the middle Gibb’s pants in this clip?

      By the way, dafna, you should be dancing. Yeah.

      • dafna October 4, 2011 at 7:38 pm #

        nice. the pants leave me speechless.

        funny you should mention dancin’ – i think our “party/dance” facilitator just bailed, after three months of courting….

        maybe i do emote too much after-all? cheri has me thinkin’. but honestly the white house was more responsive than the dance troupe!

        come back to posting after YK – u r missed.

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