This week, we interviewed Victoria's Aunt Irene, the self-proclaimed rebel in the family, and her daughter Renee. We discuss how Irene broke away from her ultra-conservative upbringing to create her own family traditions that better fit her progressive mindset.
Irene, what was your household like growing up?
Irene: Well I was not permitted to date until I was 18. And then, I had a very strict 11:00 curfew and was always very conservatively dressed. My mother purchased all my clothes for me, so it was difficult to wear what I really would have liked to have worn. There were a couple of nights when I snuck out and changed clothes at a friend's house because I knew my mom wouldn't have accepted it. And I can assure you that even what I did put on was still quite on the conservative side.
How did that make you feel within your community?
Irene: My mom and I had many fights about how many inches above the knee the skirt was allowed to be because, back then, skirts below the knee were not the in thing. Trends happened, and the length was getting shorter and shorter.
I hate to use the word jealous, but there were quite a few friends who had more freedom and were allowed to dress more on trend. I wasn't really fitting in because of what I was wearing. They were appropriately dressed for the trend of the time and, unfortunately, I was fighting for every inch.
When did you start to find some freedom?
Irene: The first time I got to sleep out of my house in my life was in law school. I was 22 years old and got to sleep at my best friend's house who was an only child. I wasn't allowed to stay at anyone's house that had more than one girl living in the house and, God forbid, there was a brother in the household!
So when I was 22 years old, right after I passed the bar exam, I got married and started a family. It was the best time of my life.
Did getting married provide you with more freedom?
Irene: I was so full of joy then. I could do whatever I wanted and that extended to fashion! I was not at all ashamed of my body. I had a beautiful little figure and I finally really got to have fun, wear a bikini, pick out my own clothes, and feel good about all of it. I never had a bad self-image when I was growing up, I was just so restricted.
Even though you were enjoying newfound freedom as an adult, did you feel compelled to bring over any of those conservative values from your upbringing to your daughter?
Irene: Oh, I'm sure my daughter would love to tell you that I most certainly did. But, not to the extent that my parents did on me.
Renee, did you feel restricted in your childhood when it came to fashion or body positivity?
Renee: I think in our house, we just didn't dwell on our bodies and what we were wearing. So, in that way, my mother broke the cycle. We went to Catholic schools in elementary, so my friends and I were all wearing uniforms like everyone else. When I went to public high school, it wasn't so much about body image, but more about material things and name brands. That seemed to start to matter more.
Did you have any of the same desires to rebel like your mom?
Renee: This is different from clothing, but my mom was very against tattoos. I ended up getting a couple of small tattoos anyway during high school, and that was a big rebellion for me. Now that I am a mom, I understand why she didn't want me to get one. I would tell my own kids to think twice about what they want, but still wouldn't tell them no.
As a new mom, what would you tell your kids when it comes to body image?
Renee: It's not that it all doesn't matter. It does, but not to the extreme that we sometimes tell ourselves. It's not as impactful as we think it's going to be at the time over the course of our lives. Now that I'm a new mom, I'm more focused on other things in life, and any worries I had back when I was younger feel really small today.
How do you feel about the items you have from Voluptas Rose?
Irene: Uhm, I love wearing them, but it's just that my husband gets really turned on when he sees me in them, and I want to smack him for that! I just want to go to sleep! I have to sneak into my clothes and jump onto the couch really quickly!
All kidding aside, he really, really likes them, but I don't wear them because they are sexy. I wear them because they are so super comfortable. Being sexy is an added bonus for me. I just love them.