Dress for the person you want to be

Originally posted 5/17/17

I’ve never been big on clothes. And even the clothes I was into, definitely did not fall into the “girly” domain. Most of my high school days I spent in Mudd jeans and some Billabong t-shirts and I sure didn’t have many of either. And the only skirt I owned was my black one that I was required to wear to all band concerts. I grew up with the mindset that being even slightly feminine meant being something less. I tackled areas of life that were usually left to my male counterparts and even felt like I needed to surpass them. And I wasn’t going to let how I dressed show that I was just another weak, stupid girl.

Fast forward to now, and I have a whole closet full of clothes, ranging from your awesome nerd ones, (I highly recommend Ript Apparel, as they have really good prices and unique designs) business dress, and even some extremely bright colored dresses and blouses. But I have hit a major problem, I am out of closet space.

I know a lot of people in my life that would say, “Well, you need a bigger closet or more storage for your clothes!” Well, I didn’t. And I am so sorry Alex and Mike, my exact words were, “I have way too many clothes, I need to get rid of some.” Which led to some deep discoveries about my screwed up perception of clothes, being a girl, and being taken seriously.

First of all, I had a slight panic attack about the sheer number of dresses that, not only do I own, but I wear on a very frequent basis. I am not talking about some basic black and gray dresses here. I am talking about a bright coral, with flowers raised on the fabric type of dresses. That I remember quite vividly me wearing it and spinning and thinking, “I’m so pretty!!”

And at this point, I just starting ripping clothes out of my closet. Anything that I haven’t worn starts to land on my bed, with an anger that said to the universe, “You don’t belong in here, this is not me!” And before I knew it, my closet was empty, save a handful of t-shirts, and a few basic dresses. No florals, no frill, no soft fabrics, just what I thought of as me.

But when I started to go through the pile that I had created, determined to box up these insults to my humanity, I started remembering why I had gotten them. The girls nights where we swapped clothes, the packed dressing rooms with my various girlfriends, the late evenings staying up with Alex drinking as we purged her closet, and I remember how happy I was in those moments. That when I had tried them on, there were smiles, laughter, and even shocked expressions on how I actually looked good in them. And then I thought about why I hadn’t worn them. That when I went to get dressed in days after, I would put them on, and instead of having the support of my friends, I would have that voice that I have always heard, saying things like, “You look stupid,” “That is way too tight on you,” and the most basic thought, “Everyone is going to judge you, and you won’t add up.”

And here we are, that pile of clothes staring at me still, me unable to decide what to do. At first, I had asked Alex to help me go through it, but I know that even if she does. Even if each one of those shirts she thinks looks amazing on me, it doesn’t change how I see myself wearing them. True, there a couple things I just don’t know how to wear them or with what, and I probably need some advice. But overall, it comes down to me having to like me while I wear them. And that ultimately means, I have to stop being scared that being seen as feminine is weak. But how does one overcome a lifetime of programming that it’s true?

And that is ultimately the biggest question, not “Do I need this sequin shirt and if I wear it, and there is a disco ball emergency, am I required to spin in the middle of the room?” The question is, “Does this shirt, that goes against what I thought was practical, but makes me smile, actually change who I am as a person? And am I brave enough to maybe admit I have changed. That maybe I am a bit more floral, softer, and even, dare I say girly, And that isn’t a bad thing. And that maybe it actually makes me stronger and wiser”

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