A Different Perspective on Dressing with Confidence
Surrounded by a sea of Old Navy wearing, jeans and t-shirt sporting family members and acquaintances, it’s no surprise that I’m sort of known as the eccentric “artsy one” who often hears, “Oh, you look so nice! I could never pull that off!” Oh yeah? Why not? It’s not as if I have the corner on the market of confidence. So where do I get all that confidence to wear what I wish, figure and opinions be dashed? It’s something I’ve been considering for a while, and something I’ve been dying to discuss with you. I think today I’m ready.
I see so many articles online and in magazines about attaining self confidence. Looking good shouldn’t be the ability to fit into a certain size, they say. And I agree. But I’m not so sure I subscribe to the mentality that in order to be a confident person, you have to love the way you look and embrace every detail of your body. Love your thighs! Love the shape of your arms! The size of your breasts, the proportions of your body… I just don’t know, you guys. I will never look in the mirror and like everything I see. Though I’m still comfortable in my body. I do not like my big boobs, I wish I didn’t carry so much weight in my middle, and boy wouldn’t it be nice if I weighed a little less. But guess what? Though I don’t like everything about my body, I don’t let its shape or my misgivings dictate what I am and am not “allowed to wear.” Dressing creatively is so much fun, and if I stuck to what made me look thin and young, it sure would be boring, and I certainly wouldn’t be very happy. So no, I don’t like everything about my body, but I still like being me, I don’t mind what people think about my body, and I find no purpose in putting a lot of time and energy into trying to hide it or change much about it.
I’ve learned through the years that insecurities stem from an absorption in self. Insecurities about what to say to people, how to behave around new acquaintances, and what sort of clothing to put on my body. How will people react toward me? What will they think of me? Me, me, meeee! Insecurities are all about me and how I am viewed. These fears quickly turn life into a narcissistic quandary. And boy if our culture isn’t great at cranking out narcissists who are subliminally taught daily to look out for yourself, to love yourself above all, and to believe that you are capable of anything as long as you believe in yourself. This mentality places the security of your happiness and confidence completely in yourself, what you are capable of, and how much you are able to love yourself. Love is an awfully unstable emotion to bear the weight of my self assurance. And love of self is all the more fickle. I might love my body today, but will I love my body tomorrow? If I don’t, then will my whole day be ruined because I just don’t love myself so much or feel that others love me either? It’s a self-absorbed and extremely precarious position to maintain as a human being trying to make it in the world.
Please understand, I think it is important to accept and love yourself, and it’s also helpful to examine yourself to see ways you need or want to change and try to be better. But brain washing yourself into happiness or flogging your body into obedience isn’t something I’ve ever found works for me. There came a point in my life when I realized I needed to have grace with myself. I might not like these double d mamma jammas, but they are mine, and I will accept them because they are just a fact of life. I will not convince myself that they make me undyingly happy, and I will not daydream about growing a brand new set of boobs. Instead, I will learn how to dress them appropriately to make me comfortable, and I will walk with confidence. You can tell me maybe this neckline isn’t the most flattering for my chest, but I probably already know that, and I probably like this outfit just fine, thank you very much. Otherwise I wouldn’t be wearing it.
Dressing creatively is fun, but I will not be absorbed by it, worry about it, or let it define who I am. I will not agonize over whether an outfit is perfect, and I also will not be scared to try something that might be rather unconventional. I am unconventional, so why be afraid to dress that way? I will not cry defeat when someone leaves a blog comment telling me that this outfit totally doesn’t work or makes me look five years older or ten pounds heavier (because let’s be real- people just don’t say those things to your face!). I’m sorry, but that is just not a priority to me. Since when does weight and age define what looks good, anyway? Okay, well, I guess it does for a lot of people, but once I start thinking that way, my confidence begins to slip away.
So how do you get that kind of confidence? How do you just not care? The idea is that you do care. Care lots and lots. But care about the things that matter. Care about your integrity, about your passions, about the well-being of those around you, and about how you are loving others and contributing to the world. Once your life begins to fill with grace for yourself and others, it will seem awfully silly when someone says to you, “You are really going to regret wearing that ten years from now.” And yes, I’ve actually had someone write that, among other really terrible things, about me. What was my response? I said, “Ten years from now I certainly won’t regret wearing something silly or fun one day, but ten years from now I really hope you regret saying hurtful things to me.”
So do I still worry about how I appear to others? Do I have days where I just feel ugly and wish I could jump out of my body? Sure! I’m human, after all. But as long as I remember the truth that living out love for others is more satisfying and lasting than obsessing over loving myself, I can keep the right perspective and I can be free to enjoy life and feel enjoyed by those around me.
For the record, I believe that living with love and grace is the key to happiness and I have found the ability to do so through my faith in Jesus Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit. I know a lot of people think that’s awfully silly, but it’s very real to me, and I would feel remiss if I didn’t share that with you today! Also, people who wear Old Navy can be stylish too! Ha! Don’t take offense, it’s just a lot of people in Canton, Ohio wear the same kind of clothes, often from places like Old Navy.