Once upon a time, a woman told the story of the day she signed the adoption consent forms for her newborn daughter. Even in middle age, this woman was beautiful and her name reflected religious, maternal, and ethnic overtones that matched her face and form perfectly. She was sweet, gentle, and charming. Although she had experienced many traumas in her life, she usually exuded peace and joy. As she spoke that evening, her voice was soft, and tears traced the only lines on her face.
She described a time in our cultural history when there was much more structure and protocol than can currently be imagined. While we talk about "evening clothes", we forget that once there were rules about what was acceptable for morning wear and afternoon wear, and how rigidly these rules were followed in some quarters.
On the day in question, this then-young woman searched her closet for the "right thing" to wear. She tried on a shirtwaist dress, but the print was too bold and the bust too tight against the breasts that still produced milk for a baby who would never nurse. She tried a skirt and sweater but, again, felt too much emphasis on her body. Giving up, she reached into the back of her her closet and brought out a black dress, designed to draw attention. Definitely an "evening dress". She pulled on her black nylons and adjusted the seams to run straight up the backs of her legs. Her 4 inch stilleto heels completed the ensemble. She applied her make-up, using heavy black eyeliner and thick mascara. The finishing touch was bright red lipstick.
When she finnished her preparations, she looked into the mirror and was satisfied. What she saw on that spring morning (and every day since) was a whore--the only kind of woman she could imagine giving up her baby.
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