‘I wish I had the guts to wear that’ is a phrase I’ve been hearing in one form or another since I started picking my own clothes. It’s not a sentiment I’ve ever properly understood. Putting on the clothes I like has never struck me as a particularly brave act.
To begin with I felt a bit sorry for people who said it. They would admire whatever item I was wearing before enviously making the proclamation. I pitied that they didn’t know they could wear whatever they liked. There was very little at risk. I’ve been called weird for as long as I can remember, but with very little negative impact. There really isn’t much people can do if you own the label the give you. You say I’m weird, I say I’m proud of it. There’s nowhere for that conversation to go. It’s hard to mock someone who isn’t ashamed of the thing you find laughable. I felt sorry for people who didn’t know that. Who worried too much about what other people thought to spread their wings & give it a try.
I got older, experienced more of life & understood their fear a little more. I never felt the need to conform in my life decisions or even my sartorial tastes. I did however learn the weight of societal judgement. Getting fatter proved just how much the world wanted us all to live up to it’s expectations. I spent too many miserable years feeling the need to hide my too large body. I added scars to the mix & the pressure to keep it all under wraps increased. I finally got what all those people meant when they said they lacked the courage to wear an eccentric outfit. They were just trying to fit in, trying to be good enough. They were simply straight jacketed by a different societal standard. That’s when those comments started to make me mad.
I wasn’t angry at the person saying it (well sometimes I was, occasionally it’s just a bitchy back handed compliment.). No, I was pissed off at all the ridiculous standards we place on each other. Moreso, I was angry at myself for falling for it. You see, I had been right. My original theory of pleasing myself & laughing in the face of judgement was spot on. Having since applied that approach to the areas of my life (& body) that I was taught to dislike, I realise it works. Just as I didn’t have to be ashamed of being the only vegetarian in class or the only kid who wanted to wear tartan tights, I also don’t have to feel bad about my flabby bits. I can wear what I find beautiful & be who makes me happy. Those who seek to bully me still have little impact because I don’t think their idea of beauty is more valid than mine.
This realisation bought my freedom back. With it, an even greater desire to break the stupid limits society places on us. Fitting in is not they key to happiness. Being authentically you, is. I have never lacked friends or adventures. You will always find your people if you hold tight & refuse to compromise the important parts of yourself. Some people will try to attack your willingness to be different. As I already said, it’s really difficult to tear you down when you stand on rock solid ground.
All of which has brought me full circle. I don’t understand why so many people squeeze themselves into boxes that don’t fit. I’m angry that we continue to be taught to conform. I’m desperate to create & consume anything that crushes the idea of rigid norms. And, yes, I still feel sorry for anyone I hear doubting they are brave enough to wear really big glasses or a crop top or head to toe sequins because it really doesn’t require bravery. Nothing very bad will happen if you wear the thing you love. The worst you can expect is a double take from a stranger or an online idiot leaving a comment. Trust me, the joy of having the stunning thing on your body is very much worth it.
So, next time you catch yourself thinking I love it, but I can’t pull it off. Stop. You can. You’ll look amazing. You’ll feel fantastic. You will learn to laugh at fools who try to deride you. Life is too short & the world is too full to limit yourself. Screw the trends. Forget what’s cool. Fuck flattering. Wear what you love & be who you are. You’ll thank me when you feel free.