Kim Addonizio, in her poem “What Do Women Want,” gets right to the sometimes gritty heart of what a seemingly simple garment can mean to us, how it can give us a way to cut loose, break free, force the world to see us in a different way, disguise our fragility, our goodness, and our innocence:
I want a red dress.
I want it flimsy and cheap,
I want it too tight, I want to wear it
until someone tears if off me.
I want it sleeveless and backless,
this dress, so no one has to guess
Addonizio understands the signs and symbols inherent in what we wear, the cultural messages, the sexual overtones, the magic—how a garment can transform us, make us feel dangerous, signalling to all comers that we’re ready to rip them to shreds if they comes too close, all the while drawing them into our menacing orbit.
Yes, sometimes what women (and men) want is killer clothing that enables us to swagger through the world in a way we never could without it:
I want that red dress bad. …
When I find it, I’ll pull that garment
from its hanger like I’m choosing a body
to carry me into this world, through
the birth-cries and the love-cries too
and I’ll wear it like bones, like skin,
it’ll be the goddamned
dress they bury me in.
Worn anything dangerous lately?
Categories: Fashion & Poetry