The last time I remember having a “style” is around the third grade. During that year, and all the ones leading up to it, I had a definite style. You could look at certain items of clothing or jewelry and think, “That looks like Jen!”
What was that style?
If it had ruffles, lace, pink, purple or in any way resembled a ballerina or bride, it was for me. The foofier the better. My bed was covered in Pepto-pink ruffles from floor to ceiling. Literally. It was a canopy bed. I could, and would, wear dresses and “gowns” every.single.day.
Once I hit about fourth grade, though, peer pressure hit. The teasing began for wearing “baby” dresses, and the pressure to wear a certain brand of jeans or shoes mounted higher and higher. So I, of course, began to embrace the popular styles.
Not giving any thought to whether or not I actually liked the look. As long as the look got me liked, I liked it.
In high school the peer pressure for brand names and the like lessened quite a bit. But quite a bit of damage had been done by the ever-sought-after “popular” girls in late elementary and junior high school.
I could not step outside without make up on. Especially lipstick. If I had to go out without it, I felt naked. I would get asked if I felt okay because I “looked tired.” And that was mortifying to me. Whatever “style” in clothing I picked was more to try to look “grown up” rather than have an actual look.
This continued through until late college, during which time I started to put together my “professional” wardrobe.
I graduated with an early-elementary education degree. So I threw myself headlong into the “teacher look.” You know the one: denim dresses, empire waistlines, silk-screened sweatshirts, and those awful work trousers with the pleats in the front. Yeah.
Then came kids. And my style became “early motherhood.”… AKA survival. Comfort. Ease. Oh, I would dress up on occasion but my default was comfortable, easy to wear, easy to clean.
Then recently I was dressed up for one such occasion and I received a compliment that was not intended as back-handed, but it felt that way.
“You look nice! You’re not really the type to wear dresses, or outfits, really, so this is a huge change!”
It really took me aback. I thought to myself, “But I am the type to wear dresses and skirts and look pretty!!”
Since then, I’ve lost 15 pounds, had another baby and gained that weight back – and then some. I’ve yo-yo’d over and over, and my self image has taken a beating. And my style-resurgence has taken a back seat to that all-famed time of “when I’ve lost the weight…”
Somewhere in there, as well, I have sort of prided myself on the fact that I’m comfortable enough to go to the shop or drop the kids at school with a pony-tail with more fly-aways than an air field, pilling track suits, and perhaps even a pajama top under my coat. I’m so comfortable in my own skin this doesn’t bother me.
Truth is, I think I was thinking I wasn’t worth it. I mean, what right do I have to want to look pretty, wear nice accessories and shiny lip gloss when there are moms halfway around the world just struggling to feed their kids, or put any clothes on them at all??
And so I in a way, I think I prided myself on “suffering” like those less fortunate than me.
The past couple of years have been a journey of rediscovering who I am. As a person. As a wife. A mom. And a child of God. I’m still discovering it. I’ve been spending more and more time in prayer, meditating on Scripture, and discussing the messy journey of faith with people of all walks of life, faith and system of belief. I’m making an effort to make healthier, wiser choices with my food and activity level (note, I said an effort…)
Through all of this, I’ve discovered that expressing myself through the written word, song and movement is a need for me. Just like water or breathing. I wither when I neglect those things; and I thrive when I incorporate them into my life in a healthy balance.
And I think that maybe, just maybe, I need to do the same thing with my appearance. I don’t want to swing the pendulum so far that I become truly vain, or my appearance becomes an idol; an obsession.
But I’m going to start the journey of rediscovering who I am in my style. I’ve been experimenting the past few days. Some looks have worked – I may just be addicted to the red-lip look I didn’t think I could pull off; and the side messy bun is cute if I say so myself. And some looks…haven’t worked so well – the brown-toned outfit with my purple Doc Marten’s to add a pop of the unexpected…yeah, not so much.
I honestly don’t really know the point of this post other than the transparency of where I am in this journey. It’s hard for me to hit “publish” on a post that is so jumbled and seems like just a bunch of discombobulated thoughts, feelings, doubts and memories.
But, hey, this is where I am; who I am right now.
What about you? Do you have a style? Have you lost a little bit of who you are? What are you doing to find it?
I’ve linked up with Time Warp Wife