This pictures comes for Florida before we left to join the Peace Corps in Samoa. I am wearing perfectly reasonably lengthed shorts. In fact, in comparison to my sisters, I am wearing super conservative grannie shorts.
Yet look at all the leg that is visible! Not only can you see my knees (shock and gasp) but you can see a significant portion of thigh. (that's me in the front of the canoe, in case you haven't figured that out).
There is nothing scandalous about these shorts. Yet looking at them makes me cringe. My legs are all bare and in public! Holy cow, if you look on the flickr back before we came to Samoa you can see pictures of me in a bikini in public. That's right, just putting my thighs and midriff right out there for all the world to see. Hussy!
When we first arrived in Samoa I was hyper-conscious of the acceptable social norms for female attire. I covered my shoulders and my knees. The picture above is a pretty fair representation of acceptable attire.
No where was I more sensitive than at the beach.
Before we left the States, I had special ordered from Victoria Secrets what I considered to be an extremely modest one-piece bathing suit. It was very retro, it was very black, it made me feel very much like I was getting ready for a pair of mom jeans as well.
I discovered quite quickly that there was nothing modest about this bathing suit and despite the fact I had covered what felt like a large portion of my body in America in black stretchy fabric, I was in fact practically nekkid in Samoa. I took to wearing shorts over the suit when I was out of the water. I quickly switched to board shorts and a t-shirt or tank top.
My adherence to the strict dress code has been waning. Cale made me that super scandalous puletasi last year. Granted, my knees are only revealed when I walk, but look at all those shoulders. Then for Christmas my parents sent me a pair of jean shorts that have quickly become my favourites. However, the first time I put them on, I felt dangerous. I was showing the world my knees. Now, I walk around town in them all the time without a second thought. Look at all that knee I am showing in the picture below. Shocking.
Beachwear is my greatest evolution. I went from Victoria Secret's one-piece, to board shorts and t-shirt, to ie as dress to bikini and shorts. When we are in a vacation spot, such as Jane's in Manase, I don't have a problem wearing my bikini and a pair of shorts (says the girl who was so judgmental of the tourists in bikinis when she first got here). However, I tried wearing that at FaoFao not that long ago and I felt wrong. It wasn't the same. FaoFao isn't as touristy and I know the people who work there. I felt inappropriate. Also, when I got somewhere I know is popular with Samoans, I also regress to the board shorts and shirt. I have rules like that for clothes as well. I wear my jean shorts all over town in Apia, but I cover with an ie when I am riding the bus in Savaii.
What does all this clothing evolution say about Samoa or me? I have no idea. What I do know is I still spend most of my time covered from shoulders to ankles in a puletasi, like the one seen on my at prize-giving last year below.
I still think "whore" when I see a girl in a short skirt here in Samoa (skirts that a probably acceptable business attire in America [thanks Ally McBeal]).
And I cannot imagine how I am going to go back to America and wear normal length shorts that let the world see my thighs again.