The right to bare arms.

Thursday, March 11, 2010 Jonette 16 Comments

This is a part of Gala Darling's Radical Self Love Project, 
because Life and Love are radical, and so are you and me.

I have Man-arms.

No I don't mean male arms, the lean, toned arms you see on male models. I'm talking about chunky, bicep-heavy, truck-driver arms. The kind you'd expect to see an "I ♥ Mom" tattoo on it. You'd expect my arms to be on someone who's had a few beers and pretzels too many.

But no. I don't drink beer often, and salty pretzels are a bit difficult to come by here. And (alas,) I have no tattoo on my arm, not even an "I ♥ Mom" one.

My arms are just Man-arms. Chunky Man-arms. Manly Man-arms.

So, you can just imagine how I felt going out into the big wide, world one sultry Friday afternoon in a halter dress I made myself.

Let's establish a few facts: 
  • Summers in the Philippines can be punishingly hot and/or humid. It's insane enough to give you a headache to last the day through. 
  • I have always worn sleeved shirts. The closest I've come to baring arms would be cap-sleeves on shirts, and that's it. With strappy dresses, I've learned the hard way that it was necessary for me to use cardigans or wear sleeved undershirts with them. The learning process wasn't exactly pleasant.

    See me in a blue spaghetti-strapped dress? The one on the right? This dress was my mom's birthday present to me 7 years ago. I dearly loved this dress, and altered it to make it fit me better and make it sexier. I proudly wore it to work. It wasn't too well received by some of my acquaintances, Even if there were other girls on the floor rocking the look. So, it was back under the cardigan with me.

     Besides, it was cold in the office. What was I thinking?

  • James is the kind of boyfriend who would never approve of me stepping out in something he'd consider too revealing. Define revealing: the blue dress above. A show of my ample decolletage, arms, shoulders, legs,  what other juicy lady parts have you. If I had hiked that skirt higher or added a slit to it, he'd tell me to march right back "and change into something more decent, young lady." (Honey, I love you.) It kinda amuses me when he tells me he doesn't want to have to fend off rabid perverts whenever we step out together and I'm all dolled up. Then again, I do know this is also his full-blooded Filipino male-ness coming through.

    A word of advice to my lovely international lady-readers out there: Our home-grown men are charming, chivalrous, and will do everything in their power to win you. Once you do say yes, though, prepare to have your modesty fiercely guarded  from potential predators. To him, every guy who checks you out is probably thinking you're fair game, and that they'd better keep their eyes to themselves if they want them to stay in their sockets. To quote Ditas' husband Irl, "view is for me alone." Don't even reproach him on this. He will simply give you that sweet smile you first fell in love with and say "Me? No, of course I'm not territorial, what in the world would make you think that?"

    That, or he will admit to you that he just doesn't like other men eyeing you up, period.

    Mind you, though. I'm not saying my boyfriend is a savage, fearsome, authoritarian chauvinist who refuses to let his woman to bloom. Far from it! He loves me and respects me in more ways than I can imagine, and never fails to let me know. I've just come to accept that this protective side of him is as much James as every other wonderful, wacky, and lovely part of him is James. So there.

    Wait, where were we? Arms! Right.

  • Covering up has become pretty much mandatory for me. No, not even that. It's become a force of habit.

So, it was Friday, blazing at 37 degrees Celsius.

No, you know what? I'm not even going to make an excuse of the weather at the time, nor of the fact that I still had to pick up my laundry, because if I'm going to be honest with myself, deep down inside, I really wanted to.

 Yes, I wanted to wear that halter dress I made and strut my stuff, arms and shoulders bare. It was a hot day, and it was perfectly sensible to wear something light and airy and to bare arms that day. And hell yes, because I felt gorgeous in that dress and I was damn proud of it.

 I never heard a negative comment come from anyone that day from anyone in the office. I must admit, all the compliments and cuddles and cooing over the move tickled me pink. Not even the rude boys and unruly kids who littered the streets of my village could spoil my day. I am fabulous, and I know it!

 I have my lovely, lovely online plurk girls to thank for giving me that extra oomph I needed to go out in that dress. Here's to loving every inch of us, ladies! You are gorgeous!

At some point, James did find out about the whole bare-shouldered-dress escapade. As a matter of fact, I told him myself. First came the stunned silence. Next came a grunt and an "oh, alright" of resignation from him, and the evening went by with nary a squabble. I think James has realized that his girlfriend will always be the free-spirited woman he first fell in love with, and that he will continue to stay with her for that same reason, no matter if it drives him crazy. :D See? The man loves me!

I love my body a lot more now. It's hard to not love a friend you've conspired to do something audacious with, someone who's been with you through the entire scary yet thrilling ride and will laugh with you over it. I love my arms, my arms are gorgeous, and if I were to do a victory pose, I'd do a muscle-man and make a gar  face. Gaaaar!

 This little exercise has made me want to make dresses again. I'm inspired, and I can't wait to get back to designing and drafting and cutting and sewing more lovely pieces. Dresses make me feel fabulous, and I can't wait to step out in a new one again. :)

 So, pics or it didn't happen.

Voila, my loves! To being fabulous! 


  1. I so love this blog!! thanks for sharing! Go ahead and bare your arms! You're beautiful! ^_^

  2. Thank you, Ditas! Here's to being fabulous and beautiful and 100% Us!

  3. Oh James just doesn't want to share, that man :p

  4. You go girl! I love your mirror shot. God, I miss that kind of mirror. We have one in my father's house but here in my in-laws, half body lang. Baring my arms was one my insecurity, well imagine pumping the poso everyday, it's like I am working out my biceps and they would call me maton but I got over the insecurity and wore sleeveless whenever I feel like it. I wish I could go back to wearing dresses. It's not that I don't like it but I cannot imagine how to breastfeed Una outside in a dress. It's either I'll expose a portion of my upper torso or have her under my dress. I did it once with a duster in my father's place, let's just say he forced me to wear one of his shorts, not comfortable at all. That was after Ondoy kaya panay hiram yung mga suot ko, lol!

  5. Haha! I'm afraid so, Meream. Such is the fate of vivacious women like us! ;)

  6. Hi Gene! Gosh, that mirror frame is waaaaaay older than I am. Came all the way back from Tibet as a wedding gift for my parents. Yes, it is lovely, no? It now hangs in my housemate's room, and so I have to sneak in every time to take a proper full length picture of myself. Haha!

    I think there are dresses out there that allow you to breastfeed your child discreetly. they sometimes come in yoke or overlap collars, and have a secret opening for your child to access your milk. :)

  7. LOVE IT. You're so beautiful!

    And inspiring <3

    Maybe I'll start wearing my shorts!

  8. Ok I'm inspired but I'm still way to chicken to bare my arms. Argh.

  9. Very inspiring :D I feel injected with a dose of confidence :)
    You look fabulous :) and should be rightfully proud.

  10. oh hi! Filipino represent! i was browsing through galadarling's website and i clicked on your link; It was a pleasant surprise to see someone from home.. anyway, thanks for sharing this post, I was deciding whether to wear this sleeveless dress for my trip back home next week and this has been very encouraging.. it almost didn't make it to my suitcase :) you look really great!

  11. Maybe I'll start wearing my shorts!

    Yeah! You go do that, girl! *high-fives*

    and don't forget your sunscreen for your lovely gams! ;)

  12. Ok I'm inspired but I'm still way to chicken to bare my arms. Argh.
    But you have killer legs, Weesha! I wish I had legs like yours! ;)

  13. Very inspiring :D I feel injected with a dose of confidence :)
    You look fabulous :) and should be rightfully proud.

    Thank you so much! I'm glad you feel confident too! Spread the love!

  14. It was a pleasant surprise to see someone from home.

    Me too! ^_^*

    I was deciding whether to wear this sleeveless dress for my trip back home next week and this has been very encouraging.. it almost didn't make it to my suitcase :)

    Awesome! Good for you -- as long as wearing it makes you feel great, go for it! :D

  15. you look beautiful in that dress! and your arms are beautiful, too!

  16. you look beautiful in that dress! and your arms are beautiful, too!

    Thank you, thank you! :) Alas, the blue dress in the mirror is gone. It is now a hand-me-down gift to the daughter of our ex-housekeeper. I had to give the dress up; the *ehem* girls wouldn't fit anymore.

    All the more reason to make a new one, methinks! :)


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