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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Word of the Day, vol. IX

Word of the Day: CLOTHES

There are moments in my life when I physically feel it changing. It’s like something shifts into place again or a chord is struck within. This happened a lot when I was living in Apartment 8. I could sit and look around and realize how much work I had put into the person that I was, the person that I was becoming. These friends that I had met, this home I had created, this art I was making. It all felt so different from what I had ever experienced. Better than what I’d expected life could be like.

My relationship with clothes is volatile. Because it’s so much about my relationship with my body. And I’m only recently just beginning to really figure out how to live in this one.

I guess I can look back and realize that I spent a lot of time hiding in my clothes. High school was tough because I was the New Kid all four years. I didn’t know how to make anyone see me in the ways I wanted them to. I was just trying to get out of my house and the small town I saw so many people get stuck in. I rarely thought twice about “what I looked like,” because I always asserted that I wanted people to accept and want me for more than that. It was a preemptive strike. I beat people to the punch by putting on clothes that made me disappear. They weren’t noticing me anyway, I proclaimed.

In college, I lived with people who were consumed with their outer appearances in ways I actually resented. We all know how much I love S, but it still boggles my mind that a casual outfit to her is fitted jeans, a detailed blouse, and low heels. In college, when I was throwing on frayed jeans, polo shirts in sizes too big, and running shoes, this made me feel incredibly inadequate and unnoticed.

I hated shopping because I could never find things that fit and I never had any money, but one day during winter break, my friends dragged me to San Francisco where I spent literally eight hours in fitting rooms, while clothes were piled up and thrown at me to try on. I spent my entire budget of $500 on a new wardrobe and the rest of the night sobbing that I didn’t know how to let go of the old me. It was a full-on breakdown, one that scared me and my friends. It felt intensely scary and risky to try to have people see a me I didn’t know was ready to come out yet. And incredibly sad to realize that, in a lot of ways, I didn’t think I deserved to feel like a better version of myself.

As I started regularly wearing clothes that really fit me and began learning how to shop for myself, I slowly began to realize that feeling good about one’s self on the outside does trickle in to what’s going on inside. It doesn’t have to happen every day, and it doesn’t have to be a lot of work. It’s important for me to dress the body I have because those clothes are the most flattering anyway. And it’s amazing what finding the perfect pair of boots or a really amazing blazer does for one’s self-esteem. I can’t deny that.

Last weekend, I attended a party alone. It was a pretty low-maintenance grad school gathering, but I dressed up because it finally feels like fall, and I did just purchase a fantastic pair of boots. I threw them on with black tights, a black and white plaid skirt, and a royal blue sweater. As I was getting ready to leave my house, I felt a hearkening back to physically feeling my life change.

It was like my body realized how much further I have come. Realizes again how much work I’ve put into the person I am, the person I’m becoming.

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