My mom just turned 70. She was born in 1946. How awesome is that?
My mother-in-law made a low-sugar gorgeous cake, I made a slideshow of my mom’s life from childhood through to the present, and four generations turned up to celebrate this momentous occasion including her grandkids, and great-grandchildren.
My personal gift to her was an evening of painting on canvas, and dinner—just the two of us.
While we were at dinner, a girl walked by in a cute outfit that looked a little vintage—a romper with a 40’s flavor. My mom admired it wistfully, and said, “That’s really cute. I guess I’m too old for that sort of thing.”
Her statement startled me, and made me a little sad.
“Nonsense,” I said. “You could rock that outfit.” And she could.
But I could see the doubt in her eyes.
This thing about “being too old to wear this or that” or worrying about whether “it’s okay or cool to wear this or that”, it really got me thinking. Especially considering that I’d just written a blog post on 10 Things That Women Over 30 Should Start Doing that talks a bit about that exact point.
Turns out this is a fairly common problem, and it needs to be addressed once and for all.
So, what makes women (of all ages) second-guess their own sense of style? Really?
I mean, what is it that underlies all this awkwardness that some women seem to feel when they consider expressing themselves through fashion?
I actually think the problem is three-fold:
Women can be judgmental, mean, vindictive bitches to other women.
Honestly, I’m of the opinion that this is, hands-down, the MOST destructive blow to personal expression and individuality among women. Hands down.
Girls have been judging other girls for as long as I can think of, and I’m here to say: Stop it. Just stop doing it. Teach your daughters to be kinder. Stop talking about your fellow sisters to each other. It doesn’t help you. It certainly doesn’t help them. And it’s, quite frankly, hindering the potential awesomeness that we could have in the world as a whole.
It starts early in life in school, and that atmosphere of judgement affects us as teens—definitely as teens, as adults, as parents, and even in the workplace.
In fact, I just addressed this for my daughter’s wedding a few weeks back…
I needed a dress. After all, I was the mother of the bride. It’s a big deal, right? My mother-in-law and I spent the day trying on dresses. None of them really clicked with my sense of style, and I just wasn’t feeling it. I wanted to feel pretty, but I wanted to be comfortable, and I wanted to dress like “me”. After a day of finding nothing, I was a little bummed. What I really wanted was a dress like the one I’d worn to my oldest daughter’s wedding 5 years earlier.
That’s what got me thinking…Why not wear that dress? It needed to be dry-cleaned, but it was still perfectly good. After all, I’d hardly worn it, and it still fit.
For a moment, a sense of panic set in. “What if people judge me for wearing the same dress I’ve worn before?” “What if they notice it’s the same dress and think less of me?” “It will be in the wedding photos, how will that look?”
But, then I stepped back and considered the source of this sudden dismay. I wasn’t worried about what my husband would think. After all, he LOVED the dress on me and even suggested I wear it to this wedding. I wasn’t worried what my family or friends would think.
Then it hit me.
I was worried about these “bitches” judging me. No one in particular that is actually in my life these days, just the phantom bitches from my youth. The ones who whispered and pointed and talked dirt to their girlfriends, making me feel self conscious in that outfit that I’d just previously thought looked lovely. Maybe you’ve encountered them too?
At that moment I could see all the years of damage to my own sense of style, and why I held myself back when I wanted to express myself in my own unique way. It wasn’t that I ever worried about what everyone would think of me, just these girls: these supposedly popular girls who somehow were the authority on what looked cool and what didn’t.
How in the world had I allowed such a small percentage of the population to rule my choices in life? It was liberating to actually identify it completely for myself.
But you know what? Enough of that nonsense.
Now that I’m all grown up, I can see these insecure girls for who they really are. They tear other girls down because of their own insecurities. I know this with ABSOLUTE certainty. And anyone else who has the guts to express themselves is a threat in some imagined way.
Now that you know them, I hope that you ignore their words and judgmental looks. And I hope you encourage other girls to be a source of inspiration instead of a source of introversion, too.
By the way, I did wear my now official “Mother of The Bride” dress to my daughter’s wedding. I felt fabulous, and my husband adored me. I was comfortable, and complemented the wedding party without in any way taking away from my beautiful daughter’s moment to shine. And it was awesome.
These bitchy, judgmental girls still exist in our lives today.
Yep. Only now they disguise themselves as magazine articles and “fashion police” on social media, TV shows (especially reality TV), etc. They make fun of people who differ in style from whatever is considered trendy, and they ridicule celebrities they feel don’t cut whatever standard they deem “cool”.
The problem is that young girls, still potentially insecure from the bitches outlined in #1 above, look to these places as authorities, assuming that this is somehow “public opinion.”
Well, I’m here to tell you, that it’s not. There are a LOT of ridiculous fashion trends that become trendy because one of these yahoos glorified it. And seriously, have you seen some of the sheer silliness coming off the runways in “high fashion”? This is, in my opinion, a very murky field. It is art, but it’s also teeming with people who do not really want the world to be more beautiful.
But don’t buy it.
My advice is to look for yourself.
Is it awesome to you? Does it stir something in you? Does it make you feel beautiful and comfortable with who you are?
I’ve gone through magazines reading these fashion police snippets and categorically disagreed with all the things they poked fun at. And I know I don’t have bad taste.
I have my own taste, and it is not suited to everyone’s taste, but that’s okay. It’s not supposed to be. How boring would this world be if we all dressed the same?? No thank you.
I think that we should embrace our own unique sense of style. There are so many historic fashion trends that were FABULOUS, and it would even be okay to bring those back if that’s what you love.
So, go ahead. Embrace you’re own sense of style. No matter how old or how young you are. Find your own sense of awesome and share it. Pretty please? The world needs it.
Lastly, I think that when women have agreed to some extent with the nonsense in #1 and #2 above, they fall into a “comfort zone” which isn’t really comfortable.
Sometimes, people never really experiment with their own sense of style because they just start living and dressing in whatever way they feel they should dress. That’s not even necessarily a bad thing, unless that person feels like something is missing or askew in their life because of it.
But too often, over the years, other people’s critiques and life can create a sense of routine where downplaying your own sense of style has become an every day way of life. The problem with this is that when you’ve spent years “fitting in” to what you think people consider “normal”, then personal expression can feel awkward at first, and the idea of potentially attracting attention can be daunting.
I get it. It’s like anything you haven’t done in a while. Even kissing when you’ve been out of the dating pool can feel awkward at first. Or dancing. Or drawing. Or most anything. But that’s okay. You can still cultivate and explore your own sense of style gradually if that’s easier.
I’m doing that as we speak. I’ve come to realize that I’m more of a Bohemian Gypsy at heart. I’ve tried many different fashion styles on for size, but I come back to this and it’s what makes me feel comfortable. I do wear jeans and t-shirts, but I’m most at home in layers and texture.
At the end of the day, I’m really all about you being more of who you really are because that is awesome.
And the truth is, that when you are true to YOU, you attract others who also have affinity for your unique style, and that leads to building an awesome tribe in your life of REAL friends, and cultivating a love life that lasts a lifetime, and raising kids who are awesome, and inspiring others to be true to themselves, and, and, and…
See all the awesomeness that comes from this one simple point? Bet you didn’t expect all that from a post on fashion, did you?
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