Before arriving in Côte d'Ivoire, I was well aware that I would need to calibrate various standards that I used to determine "proper protocol." I was also well aware that clothing would be one such area where immersing myself would mean adopting new norms. What's stylish? What's appropriate, and where? etc.
After about a month in Cote d'Ivoire, I was surprised to conclude that, on the whole, ideas of propriety aren't so very different than in the United States. Though it varies from neighborhood to neighborhood, you can normally find just as many people wearing western clothes as traditional clothes. Tank tops, t-shirts, v-necks, etc. are worn by almost all women in the city. Club attire is also very much the same: dresses, heels, skirts. Things really aren't all that different.
Today, however, was the first time that I ran into trouble.
It has been very hot here. When you're cramped into a classroom designed to fit 60 but actually holding 110, things get toasty. I figured, therefore, that wearing some loose shorts might be permissible. Au contraire.
The moment I got to school, the students and teachers all started exclaiming. The male teachers joked that I must be on my way to the club in my "sexy shorts," the female teachers gave me concerned looks and said we needed to have a "woman to woman" talk. The entire school seemed to be abuzz. Never in my life have my pale knee caps and thighs incited so much drama.
By the end of the day, we all managed to laugh about it and I promised to learn from my mistake. Though you can wear tight, long skirts to school, or even a skirt that comes above the knee, you cannot wear shorts. Admittedly, since this experience, I've observed that shorts are much less common here, and neither men nor women really wear them. Since the heat isn't going to let up anytime soon, I've taken this as a sign that I need to buy some pagne, find myself a tailor, and get some skirts made!
Until Next Time,
(and her Sexy Shorts)