Love, Life Stories

I was sixteen when I went clubbing for the first time – then this happened

"You're really going to wear that?"

I was 16 when I went clubbing for the first time.

You might be thinking, “Wtf?!” But in Colombia, it’s actually pretty normal to go clubbing at that age.

Before going out, my friends and I would meet at one of our places to get ready together. We would pick each other’s outfits, do each other’s makeup, and fix each other’s hair. It was the best part of the night.

That is until I realized that “a clubbing outfit” translated into nearly no clothing, or clothes that showed off key areas: your butt, boobs, legs, and stomach. Whenever I came up with an outfit that was loose and didn’t show off any of these parts of my body, I would get a simple answer:

“You’re really going to wear that?”

[bctt tweet=”You’re really going to wear that?” username=”wearethetempest”]

So, I would usually go change. But one time, I decided to do things differently. I walked into the club with one of my favorite “flowy” shirts paired with pants.

This time I wasn’t showing any skin.

To my own surprise, I ended up feeling incredibly out of place.

Why?

Instead of standing out in the right way, I was standing out for the wrong reason: being covered meant I didn’t attract the attention of any men, so I ended up dancing by myself for the most part. In the eyes of men at the club, my outfit wasn’t “sexy” enough.

[bctt tweet=”In the eyes of men at the club, my outfit wasn’t ‘sexy’ enough.” username=”wearethetempest”]

At the time, I didn’t understand just how problematic it was that we were all dressing sexy for men at the age of 16. So I kept doing what all my friends did: dress to show off my “key” areas. Plus, wearing skirts, shorts, and sleeveless shirts didn’t seem that bad anyway in the year-round warm weather that we had back home.

When I came to Boston for college, I realized that the “clubbing outfit” was still a thing – even though it was only 30ºF out. Not being used to the cold weather, I started avoiding the “dress-to-highlight-the-key-areas” thing, but still felt weird. When I looked around me at the club, all I could see were crop tops, tight skirts and dresses, and no tights.

I mean, did this mean that we were supposed to endure the cold New England winter without tights if we were out clubbing?!

You had to be kidding me.

To my own dismay, I eventually became one of those girls who wore tiny outfits under her winter coat. It was clear that I was no longer showing a lot of skin because of a mere weather coincidence as I was back home, I was now doing it because I wanted the attention of men.

There, I said it.

I wanted to feel desirable and sexy, and the only way that I could do that at a club was by wearing the standard “clubbing outfit.”

But little did I know that I was falling into a trap.

Just like I had learned when I was 16, on the days that I wore sexy clothes to the club, guys would buy me drinks and ask me to dance. But the days I didn’t, I would be stuck as the third wheel while my friend in the clubbing outfit got all the attention.

With time I realized that the kind of attention I was receiving when I wore the clubbing outfit was not the good kind. All these guys ever wanted was to get in my pants, not actually get to know me as a person.

I was being incredibly objectified.

[bctt tweet=”All these guys ever wanted was to get in my pants.” username=”wearethetempest”]

Once I understood that I was only going to get a kiss on the dance floor (and not a date), I realized that putting so much work into the way I looked was not worth my time. After all, I wasn’t going to get truthful attention from the opposite sex.

That’s why I say that having to look sexy at a club was a trap because although I thought that I was getting something out of it, I wasn’t. Unless the only thing I was looking for was sex.

I think it was very problematic that I felt pressured into having to look sexy, especially at a young age. It was sexist and I felt diminished to a piece of meat.

Does this mean that I’m going to stop clubbing?

No. Not at all.

I love dancing and it’s something about my culture that I actually enjoy. But unfortunately, having to “look good” for men is also part of my culture, and that is something that I’m not willing to do anymore.

Slowly, but surely, I’ve been dressing more like myself, without worrying about what men – or other women – think about my outfit.