My shoes have a few miles on them at this particular point in my life, and I’ve been noticing something, which I’m sure if you’re over the age of 27 you have too. And that’s the rapid decline of Americans’ sense of self-presentation. This may be the case in some other countries as well, but my concern is our homeland and how we’re representing ourselves and our families.

Kentuckiana-man

“Kentuckiana-Man” Lots of sighting of his species when it starts getting hot out. Notice underwear is hanging out but still doesn’t conceal his butt-crack. Perfect.

I suppose it was bound to happen. I’m not just talking about America’s obesity problem, which is far more problematic and noticeable than any opioid or gun-regulation issue on our hands. We live in the land of the free which I’m more and more thankful for, so if you want to treat your body like a trash can, go right ahead.

The problem I’m more concerned about is what is going on over and on the mesomorphic bodies that are on parade around this fine land. Just over the past few decades, the people in America decided that wearing what you had on when you just got out of bed is fine to go grocery shopping and do other necessary public tasks in.

I feel like I don’t need to post evidence of what I mean here because it’s so evident. Just Google “People of WalMart,” and there you go.

What I’m referring to is the fact that just a little over a half-century ago, men would wear hats, suits, ties(not to mention cufflinks, tie-tacks, and other finishing accessories), and ladies would wear hats, gloves, and dresses to go out in. They did so because there was a sense of pride in how they appeared and had some dignity. Apparently, the concept of keeping up one’s appearance for our own sake suddenly was a worry no more. God forbid we might put ourselves together for the sake of our fellow men and women that have to look at us.

Clearly, the days of taking our fashion hints from the military were over came to a crashing, fiery halt in the God-awful ’70s, where no unnatural synthetic material wouldn’t make the best choice of clothing material. Dakron, nylon, rayon, and any other plastic, non-breathable, flammable, itchy, double-knit atrocity was high fashion during my childhood. But to go from polished wingtips, suit and tie and hat to shower shoes, pajama bottoms and a tank top in a couple of decades is throwing in the barf rag. It’s not just saying “I don’t care what you think about me.” It says “I have no pride or self-respect.” That may sound harsh, but how could you argue that?  Even if you tried, you’d then have to consider the bodies being clothed these days which are larger than they should be, and tattooed as much as the family budget will allow for such important permanent graffiti. Tattoos are a whole different cultural phenomenon that should be discussed. It used to be the counter-culture that got tattoos. But now pure-skinned people such as myself seem to be the counter-culture. A lot of other cultural flip-flops have happened lately that make more conservative people the counter-culture as well, which is interesting to me from a psychological behavior point of view, especially when dealing with collectives.

But I have a theory. In a time not too long ago, most bedroom furniture, particularly chests of drawers and dressers, or whatever you want to use, came with mirrors attached along the back, vertically. I still have mine from growing up, and the ones in my house growing up all had them (admittedly, they were antiques, even back then and certainly now). And these days, if you look for that type of furniture for your bedroom, where most people get dressed and ready to go out in public, the units have none. You buy them separately to hang on the wall (or lean against it dangerously, as is often the case.)

I think that was probably for two, or more, reasons. One is that good mirrors are heavy and expensive and fragile. That means they add a lot of cost to the unit, but may, or may not, add as much or more value to the unit to the customer. For many people that buy furniture these days, it’s largely based on cost because furniture has become a commodity, unfortunately. That’s thanks to IKEA, flat-pack Indian operations and some good marketing. North Carolina used to be a hub for some of the best-made furniture around, but those manufacturers were largely washed away in the ’90s. And if you want to make a dresser a LOT less expensive, lose the mirror. The other reason I can figure, is that attaching it to the back of a dresser is a little tricky and you need to have A) A heavy, solid piece of furniture as a sturdy, immovable base (which most modern, common furniture isn’t these days) and B) A husband, friend or be able to hold up a 50+ pound mirror while screwing it onto the supports. Although I believe a lot of people ended up just leaning them against the walls in the end.

So, I searched around online and thought of the bedrooms I’ve seen in homes I’ve been in over recent years, which isn’t that many granted, but just for some empirical support. And I didn’t see any that had mirrors included as a piece of the furniture. You’d need to specifically look for something like that, or have it made, which hikes the cost, and quality, up a noticeable bit.

So, why was the mirror ever included? Well, there was a time when people cared about what they look like before leaving the house. That no longer seems to be the case with many Americans and visiting foreigners. For example, I have the mirror on the back of my dresser, which also has a box for my “manly” items such as cufflinks, studs, lapel stays, etc… and a great glass-topped monogrammed box which has my eyeglasses and watches and other stuff in it when I’m primpin’ to go pimpin’.

dresser box

A glimpse of my dresser top. Be sure to salute.

But removing that checkpoint is a reason for the noticeably relaxed fashions people choose to wear, and how they present themselves in public. I’m certainly not saying I’m a fashion model by any means, but I’d rather not go around looking like I just don’t care. Put yourself together somewhat, at least.