I could never wear that. That is what I said to my daughter as I looked at the one-piece leopard-pattern jumpsuit in the department store.
We both laughed. One of our favourite pastimes is pointing out clothing to each other when we know it is outrageous – to us, at least. Fuzzy purple-fur winter coats. Red-sequined stiletto-heeled shoes.
But sometimes, clothing even less flashy scares me off. I admire those who can adopt new styles without a second thought. That does not come easily to me. If something is fussy, or I think it looks silly, or I feel manipulated by clothing companies, I dig in my heels (never stiletto) and refuse to buy into it.
Ankle boots. They are too short, but cost the same as a full-length boot. It is just a new kind of shoe that is too hot to wear indoors, but fashion dictates that this is “in”, somehow.
Why is almost everything made of “see-through” fabric? One must always wear something underneath. I think this is a trick to make us buy twice as much clothing, concocted to keep garmet sales rising. I refuse to buy a regular garment if you can see through the fabric.
I have to admit: I have my own very safe self-image. If I buy something a bit too radical, I usually do this with it. I put it on in the morning, look in the mirror, and hang it up again. After several months, I pass it on.
I got to thinking about this when I spoke to someone who was embarking on a new career a few weeks ago. This isn’t something that people can see me doing, but I’m doing it, she said.
She was right. The new job wasn’t something I could see her doing. Then I thought: who am I to think I know what she should or should not do?
If we are sometimes at odds about who we are, we can be amazingly confident that we know others.
But maybe, we don’t know others as well as we think we do. Perhaps our need for certainty makes us use what we have seen up until now to make a sticky decision about someone. Sticky, in the sense that it takes a lot to unstick your point of view about someone.
Perhaps I reveal too much here. Maybe it is just me who struggles to see someone in a new way. And heaven help you if you say something to describe me that, in my estimation, doesn’t describe me at all.
Don’t tell me I make excuses for others. Don’t tell me I don’t listen. Don’t tell me I go too fast. I am cringing inwardly as I write those things, because, of course, I do all of those things sometimes. It is just that, well, those are not the times I want you to make a decision about who I am. Pick another thing: notice when I am being patient, when I am being funny, when I am helping someone, when I am listening carefully.
I guess there are a few things I want to strive for. One would be to spend less time trying to figure out everyone else and acknowledge that my biases are central to my decisions about others. A second thing would be to know that I, too, have attributes that ebb and flow on a daily basis. My behaviours can change, depending on circumstances, just as yours can.
Maybe if we all turn off our laser beams as we deal with our fellow human beings, they will feel more free to show themselves in a softer, gentler light.
We can let ourselves show up with all the vagaries of our personalities and just be ourselves, whoever that is.
I’m not rushing out to buy any clothes that push the fashion envelope any time soon.
I don’t think I need to do that.
Today, that’s just not who I am.