looking like you’re not trying

Attention all Bozemanites: this one’s for you.

I was walking down Main Street earlier today on my way to Wild Joe’s for a cold brew(cut with an alternative milk–duh) that I convinced myself would spark my motivation to complete all the monotonous tasks on my ​to do​ list, when I stopped to pet an eight week oldg olden retriever pup, who seemed merely interested in my various smells and gnawing on my shoe strap.

I know what they say about assuming, but I’m gonna go out on a limb here and assume that at least 90% of the people reading this post have done and been exactly where I was, doing exactly what I was doing, because that’s what people in Bozeman do–right? Would it help the image if I added in the bit about riding my tricked out mountain bike down town on the galligator from my house? What about the inevitably of the strap the pup was chewing on being a Chaco strap that has been munched by many a dog and batted to shit by my cat when I left catnip on the ground and walked through it? OK, now what about the addition of my Patagonia pants purchased from Second Wind and my boyfriend’s MudShirt from Moab? It’s a look, right?

It’s a Bozeman look. It’s a look that appears like I don’t put a lot of thought and care into my appearance, when in fact it was perfectly calculated to look just like that. It’s a carefully constructed look that lets everyone around me know that I’m a local. It may not be Dolce and Gabbana paired with stilettos and manicured hair, but everything I wore was purchased with the intent to go together and fit the Bozeman vibe. I put just the right amount of make-up on to look like I’m naturally without baggy eyes, but without looking unblemished, because that would be too washed of a look for the hip, outdoorsy, bum vibe that Bozemanites try to achieve.

TheBozeman ​look​ is one of many complexities as you’re trying to be so many things without looking like you’re trying. Weird, right? What a funny duplicity. At least in bigger cities people try to dress up and they admit that they do. In Bozeman, everyone is hush hush about admitting they’re trying to look like anything–probably because what they’re trying to look like is a dirty climbing/ski bum who does in fact own a hair brush and shower a few times a week.

I’ve never lived anywhere else that has such a look associated with it and a stigma around being just the right amount of Bozeman. My problem with ​the look​ and the ascribed connotations is that inadvertently creates an expectation and a lack of inclusivity. Ladies, gents, people of all orientations and backgrounds, fellow humans–my advice to you is to give yourself grace of not living in a world of limited narratives. So many Bozemanites walk around doing exactly what you’re doing, but no one talks about it. Stop trying to not try. Get your hair done, buy the heels, be cool and dislike fishing just because you want to. You don’t have to keep your mouth shut about trying to look Bozeman–we all do it–just don’t put anyone down for trying a different way than you did, because no one deserves to live in limits.

Author: Julia Burnham

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