A girlfriend made a remark about the way I dressed today. It was in relation to the casual attire I frequent. The succinct comment left numerous thoughts whooshing in my head – a micro-awakening to a forgotten place.
You see, I haven’t really judged or evaluated myself via my appearance for a long time. My aesthetics seem to have stopped being a way I represent myself to the world, or one of my priorities in life. I rarely spend more than fifteen minutes getting ready in the morning. I don’t pick out outfits, I don’t wear makeup, I don’t straighten or really blow-dry my hair, and I don’t adorn myself with uncomfortable items. A lot of this has to do with practicality and utility – I’ve been riding my bike (the manual kind) around Melbourne for seven years and flimsy heels and pretty handbags don’t cut it. In fact, you’re more likely to see me with my Chrome or Crumpler laptop bag, a waterproof jacket and some Birkenstocks. Yes, Birkenstocks. I’ve been informed these are a fashion crime to humanity – even though I think I look like a cute import from Holland in my suede clogs.
This wasn’t always the case though, turn back to 2005 and you’d find me in fashion school for a year – on respite from my science bachelors. I used to spend my Saturdays pouring my attention over many magazine subscriptions including Vogue Australia, Vogue UK, Marie Claire, ELLE, Ruush and the rest. I could tell you what piece of clothing was from what designer, what collection, what year and who wore it. People still get surprised when I correctly guess the fabric blend of their jumper.
After a while I suppose I grew bored of it all and began to find the subject matter rather intellectually dull. Achieving and conforming to a certain look became tiring. Fashion began to no longer rhyme with passion for me.
In the past few years, I stopped consuming mainstream female-focused media altogether. I also found myself without a TV to watch. As a result, I wasn’t subject to advertising or supposed societal norms via the glossy photoshopped pages or slick ads. I forgot women were under pressure to continually lose weight. I forgot women were directed to alter their skin or hair colour to become more attractive. I forgot women needed to buy more things to make their lives better. I forgot women were told they needed to continually change to feel good. I forgot to dedicate the time and focus needed to keep up with the media’s message. I progressively stopped blowing a chunk of my pay check on clothes, cosmetics or beauty treatments. I started buying books, experiences and the odd tech treat – with most of my money going into savings. I was exposed to a more-democratic new media world – where real, diverse voices from around the globe could be heard first hand.
Don’t get me wrong, I never let my general presentation falter – rather, I began to feel better by being natural. I know that you can have fun with fashion and style – many of my friends do a brilliant job. It’s just I prefer to limit my time and attention on it – and direct more to decorating my mind and soul instead.
It wasn’t until today that I was reminded I’m judged on my appearance… that it meant something.
It’s a shame because I don’t need a floral dress to feel feminine, makeup to feel attractive or a black suit to feel professional, so why does society?
Isn’t it refreshing when people don’t try to make themselves a certain way in order to justify the expectations of others.
So, fellow human. Don’t go changing – unless of course, it’s for you.