pile of clothing

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This is something I have long pondered over the years. Sometimes my folks get annoyed by the way I dress, as in I dress too ‘young’ for my age. That is, my workplace attire is rather casual. A lot of the time I can be seen in jeans and t-shirts with some kind of playful or cartoonish graphics on it. Novelty prints, like Star Wars or my favorite, a Labyrinth movie print. Some people think that a 36 year old woman shouldn’t dress this way, that they should be wearing a proper suit and heels to work or in public. My workplace isn’t precisely suitable for formal dress, as in I get dusty, skirts can be awkward to move about quickly in, and long ones can get caught under office chairs. My coworkers have never seen me in ratty pants, or shirts with holes, or even dirty clothing. I think they’d be shocked and worried if I ever showed up looking like that. They also don’t see my looks as detrimental to my abilities either.

I suppose my appearance also bugs people, because of the type of earrings I wear in them. I mentioned in previous blogs I have stretched lobes, but they’re not very large. Most of the time people hardly notice them. I’ve been fortunate to work in a place that doesn’t mind them. Or my tattoos–I ONLY have two, and both are mostly covered up.

There is the mindset though, that certain personal styles define a person as less than intelligent, or that they’re being immature. If I do dress casually, it’s never trashy or unkempt. I would never allow myself to leave the house looking like a complete slob. Sometimes I do dress up a bit, such as pairing a classy top with some tailored jeans, nice shoes, something in that vein.

I think I’m eclectic, but not juvenile. That’s the mistake some people make when they judge people on looks. Look at celebrities; they wear just about anything they want, even if it doesn’t look so great on them. They get ridiculed by the fashion mavens, but I don’t think it necessarily stops them from repeating those errors. Prime example of such: Lady Gaga.

Some people adopt a certain style because it helps define who they are, that it’s a fashion trend they enjoy. Some people can get away with it, regardless of age. Some do it for attention; they dress provocatively because they have a need for attention. Maybe it’s because of something in their history, or maybe they just like being the center of attention. I don’t think it’s necessarily fair to say once someone reaches a certain age, they can’t dress in a particular manner. Some bratty kids told me I was an old maid and shouldn’t wear graphic-print tees because I was in my 30s. Then again, they were teenagers, and clearly didn’t have much wisdom in their remarks.

But what defines a person’s competence? Is it one’s appearance, or is it intelligence? I know it’s various factors that play into this, but I don’t think because one looks a little out of the ordinary it automatically lowers their intelligence or competency. I understand workplace standards, and regulations, but I think because this world is becoming more diverse, we need to be a bit more accepting of others. I think this applies mostly to the older generations, because they find it bizarre and uncomfortable to see people who look so different in public. A person can look completely polished, impressive and popular, but that can just be a facade. Behind all the dazzle, there’s not much to that person. The same could be said for someone who is very homely, plain and quiet, but their actions can change minds. Or someone who’s covered in tattoos and piercings; they could end up being the kindest person you ever met.

It’s a double-edged sword. We want our own sense of individuality, but we also don’t want to be seen as a joke. It’s a tricky balancing act. I have my moments when I feel like being a little silly, or I want to look edgy and dark. I’ve pulled off looking goth and then looking very girly. For me, it’s more of the mood I’m in, and I know when I want to carry off such looks. I know my boundaries and I also know what looks right on me and not. It’s style, it’s how you present yourself to others that is the game-changer. I was never happy about my physical appearance, but through others encouraging me, I’ve learned slowly to accept what I have. It’s the blessing and curse of being unique. When you love yourself, you take care in how you present yourself to others. I had to learn that for myself. I don’t necessarily have to take so much time in how I look when I go out, but it makes ME feel better about myself. How we look is just one part of our being; what we say and do are even more important. Clothes, looks are just on the outside. What really matters is inside. We need to dump stereotypes because they don’t help anyone, to be honest.

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