When I was in the sixth
grade, I was desperate to shave my legs and to wear stockings with penny
loafers. I'm guessing that the cool girls wore stockings. If I wore
stockings, I would not only align myself with coolness, and I would
also signal that I was no longer a little girl.
I was a woman. To be taken
At that time, panty hose
did not exist. At least, not that I can recall. So wearing stockings
meant a garter belt with those funny snap fasteners that held the stockings
remember finding my mother's garter belt and thinking how strange
it was. And later seeing them on my older sister.)
Wearing stockings was a real
production. It meant a trip to the drug store to first figure out what
size you wore. Opening the cellophane package ever so delicately. Scrunching
the stocking into a ball, only to be unfurled slowly as you slid it
up your leg, careful, careful not to snag.
I was relentless in bugging
my mother and she finally caved in. I remember the incredible sensuality
of hearing the stockings hiss as one thigh rubbed against the other
as I walked. I admired the airbrushed appearance of my legs incased
in an orangey beige plastic sheen. I felt grown up and womanly in my
stockings. Wearing those stockings, I possessed secrets. I was Nefertiti,
Mata Hari. . . Elizabeth Taylor.
I now understand why drag
queens like to wear certain clothes. You experience yourself differently
and you signal your difference loudly to the world.
No matter how convenient
panty hose became, they can never rival the fetishistic experience of
stockings and a garter belt—that delicious contrast between warm
exposed flesh and the thrill of the contained.
used to put stockings over our faces to look like criminals. I think
once I wore stockings to a costume party. My hairy legs looked funny
under the stockings.)
Now the most interesting
part of the story for me is that, having gotten my way and worn stockings
that year, by 7th grade, at least for the all important first day of
school, I was ready to renounce them.
The first day of any school
year is a crucial one. You bring out the new hair style you have been
cultivating all summer, wear the new shoes that have been purchased
for the beginning of the new school year. You buy a new pen and pencil
case. It is all about the new.
When I was in 7th grade,
it was finally acceptable to wear stockings. To wear them in 6th grade
was considered in questionable taste. So I finally had permission from
all parties concerned—my mother, Seventeen Magazine,
the 7th grade trend setters. And what did I choose to wear the first
Anklets. You know, the kind
third or fourth graders wore.
Not even knee socks, the
bridge between two worlds.
No, anklets. White anklets.
And why, I do not know.
Maybe the air on my bare
legs felt more freeing than the saran wrap of stockings.
Maybe I had tried “adult
dress up.” Had demanded to try it on my own terms and timetable.
And having ventured out, I was ready to come back in. To reclaim little
At least for a while.