Agadir, Morocco- I just spent 15 minutes arguing with my mom on why I should (not) change what I’m wearing. She thinks I should wear something else, maybe jeans and a shirt, or a nice jellaba; Anything but what I was wearing, sweatpants, hooded sweatshirt, flip flops (which I was willing to negotiate and gladly switch for running shoes) But I feel cool, Wiz Khalifa-cool, and I think i look good, but for mom I look a mess.
For over ten years in North America, Sunday was always chill day, laundry day, a day to exert the least effort possible to dress and go out to do an activity that requires an even smaller effort, like eating BBQ on paper plates. But here in Morocco, it is Sunday, we are going to Souk and then a walk by the beach, so it is what I call “We might bump into someone” day.
The possibility of bumping into someone you know, and worrying about what they’d think of your clothes, shoes or shirt is just ridiculous.
Since I was young, I never felt flattered when someone complimented my clothes. I always said I would be proud if I received appraisal on something I created, a piece of clothing I designed, because wearing a nice watch, or expensive boots only mean I could afford them, and doesn’t entitle me of pride and ownership.
I understand the connection people tend to make between looks and success. For shallow people, clothes tell them you have a good job or do come from a rich family. And that is exactly why I intend on not caring about dressing up for others. Not to mention, nobody really ends up in a rich or poor family because of their efforts or lack thereof in a previous life.
It is undoubtedly nice to be put together, and wear ironed shirts. But the point I try to make by refusing to change my perfectly simple and casual clothes is that one can be clean, and presentable with simple inexpensive clothes, and that many of the “simpler” people often have vibrant minds, engage you in exciting conversations, advocate for causes or invent tools that enrich your lives! Steve Jobs, Anyone?
My mother is not superficial, nor does she ever judge people on looks, but just like most Moroccans, she is apparently concerned about being judged.
The fact that she is excited I am back home and wants the whole world, or town, to see us walk together, and for her daughter to look her best and be decent does definitely play a role in her requesting me to dress better.
I have to admit though that during the week, if a Moroccan citizen needs to get some paperwork done, at the municipality or with public sector in general, he or she needs to dress formally or elegantly enough not to be denigrated, ignored or mistaken for a high schooler. I speak of experience; As I showed up to apply for an ID card, or passport replacement after I got mugged, I realized that my jeans, purple t-shirt and artisanal bag look didn’t get me taken seriously, the lady at the desk addressed my mother instead! Not to mention the police officer who told me I should not dress and look like a tourist if I wanted to avoid getting mugged. *Sigh*
Sadly in Morocco, looks still do play a huge role in getting things done. Another more reason why I needed Sunday to be “I don’t care” day.
I still left the house in my sweatpants, hoodie, running shoes instead of flip flops. I might have upset her for being “Stubborn” but I wholeheartedly believed in my cause. Call me an aloof hippie, but I said: “if anyone would think I am not good enough because of my simple chill clothes, I am sure they’re not interesting, thorough or smart enough to know me anyways!”
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