Ask Scary Mommy is Scary Mommy’s advice column, where our team of “experts” answers all the questions you have about life, love, body image, friends, parenting, and anything else that’s confusing you.
This week… What do you do when your husband casually suggests you should dress nicer because your style has gotten “too frumpy?” Do you kill him right away, or wait a bit? Have your own questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Scary Mommy,
I am a SAHM to a delightful three-year-old girl and a 16-month-old boy. Since the pandemic began, my husband has been working from home every day. So he’s been privy to our typical daily life and my typical daily wardrobe, I guess, which he decided to take notice of during the past seven months. The other day, he asked me if I needed any “new fall clothes.” Now since we don’t have an arrangement where I have to “ask” him about every little purchase, I was caught off-guard. When I asked him why he shrugged sheepishly and said, “Oh, no reason really, I just thought you’d want to treat yourself to some clothes that aren’t too frumpy.” FRUMPY. F-R-U-M-P-Y. I immediately saw red. There’s a goddamn pandemic, I spend my days wiping butts and picking Cheerios up off the floor. I’m fine with my black leggings, thanks! Anyway, it made me feel like crap about myself and I’ve been giving him the cold shoulder. He thinks it’s no big deal. How do I get him to see what he said was hurtful?!
Black leggings FOR LIFE, girl. For. Life. Your husband made a doofus comment, it hurt your feelings, and he needs to apologize for it. You don’t mention how he dresses every day, but I’m assuming he must don a top hat and tux every morning. Which is a real commitment during a pandemic when you’re working in at your dining room table during a deadly public health crisis.
When you sit down to talk about this, and you should do that no matter how dismissive he is over it or if he tries to play it off, you need to: 1. Tell him he hurt you by saying what he said; and 2. Ask him what he means by “frumpy.” That’s a trick I learned from my own therapist — the “what do you mean?” tactic has never once failed me since I learned it. Just repeatedly ask him to clarify what he “means,” which offers him a chance to justify the shitty thing he said. The secret here is, of course, that there is no justification for the shitty thing he said. He is wrong. Full stop.
If he tries to go the faux concern route, “I’m just worried about you” or “you deserve x, y,x” (which he did do, by your account) you can tell him that you’re perfectly fine and when it comes to your wardrobe du jour, you don’t owe him a damn thing.
Exhausted pandemic moms dress like exhausted pandemic moms. If you wanted to do wipe butts and pick up Cheerios in jeans, boots, and a blazer — that’s your call. If you want to do it your black leggings and a tie-dye hoodie (my daily uniform), that’s also your call. Spouses do not police the fashion of their partners. If he doesn’t apologize profusely and do everything in his power to make it up to you (you do not need to do the mental and emotional gymnastics here), therapy is always an option. For you, for him, or for you both. If you can swing it, that is.
In the meantime, wear whatever the fuck you want to wear and wear it with confidence and pride.
Have your own questions? Email email@example.com
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