When I was in grade nine, my brother told me that when I got married the guy would be thinking, “Man she looks beautiful!” Sweet huh?
And then he added, “But he’ll take one look at you the next morning and run away screaming!”
I was in a pool hall leaning against the wall, pool cue in hand, waiting for my turn. Yes I’ve been known to play. And I was all decked out in a suit that I wear to work. There was a blond woman beside me, also dressed in her business clothes. I didn’t recognize her as someone I know, but she turned to me and said, “You sure aren’t the person you used to be,” as she waved her hand in front of me to indicate the clothes I was wearing. In a similar hand-sweeping motion in her direction I said, “You’re all dressed up too!” She nodded, “But I’m most comfortable in jeans, that’s when I feel the most like myself.”
I questioningly raised my eyebrow at the memory of the dream. I shook it off, got up and started my day.
After my morning ritual was done. I went out to pick up some items I needed. Part way through my morning I made a horrifying discovery.
I HAD FORGOTTEN TO PUT MY FACE ON!!
OK, I told myself, there’s no need to panic. Hasn’t everyone so far responded to your friendly greetings and smile in kind? It’s no big deal. I mean really. Get a grip!
As my heart rate slowed to normal, I began thinking maybe I should make this a tradition. Maybe on Sundays, I’ll just take a break from make-up. Why not?
At this point my dream came back to me. Don’t get me wrong, I feel great in a power suit at work – it makes me feel professional – like I’m an expert or something. (Why doesn’t my knowledge on a subject do that?)
Anyway…before you start rolling your eyes or laughing, know that I’ve tested this ‘How you dress makes a difference’ theory out.
A few years back I set out to prove to a friend that people treat you according to how you dress.
I walked into a store wearing cut-off jeans and a tee-shirt and from the moment I stepped inside that store, its employees were watching me. When I looked in their direction some politely looked away. But others went so far as to pretend they were stocking shelves in the same aisle I just happened to be in.
A few days later I walked into the same store wearing a sharp, tailored suit, high-heeled shoes, and not a hair on my head was out of place. From the moment I stepped into the store, I received courteous nods and smiles. Employees rushed to see if they could help me find something – they were tripping over each other to make sure I had an enjoyable shopping experience.
That’s just the way it is. And just like any other person, I’ve adapted. I’ve figured out how to get what I need by the way I present myself. I’ve figured out the rules of the game, put on my game face and plotted out how I will win.
It may not be right but – that’s just the way it is…
…wait it isn’t right…and I wonder why I play along. I wonder why it matters whether we have make-up on or not. Or why the clothes we wear matter.
I also wonder if this goes further than just outward appearances. Do I say or do things, or alter my beliefs in any way just so that I’m heard? Do I put on a façade so I will be accepted and ‘fit in’? Am I just taking the easy way out so that I don’t have to work so hard to be taken seriously?
Maybe that dream I had Sunday morning was a message from my subconscious.
Because if I’m accepted based on how I’ve adapted to the world, isn’t that a bit like winning by cheating?
I’m not suggesting that we all start wearing sweat pants all the time and stop brushing our teeth or anything like that…
But I do think we should be true to who we are and just like people continued to engage with me sans mascara, I think they will be drawn to who we are when we are true to ourselves.
I don’t just want to be a reasonable facsimile of me.
- Expressing Your Identity With Clothes (cultivatingstyle.com)