Dressing Up For Ourselves
I use to have really strong opinions about what it meant to dress up and use cosmetics. It all seemed like a waste of money and I felt that the other aspects of myself were more important. I use to feel embarrassed to show an interest in my appearance in favour of acting nonchalant. I even did an art project at college about the negative effects of image obsession. Since then I’ve grown up and my feelings on the subject have changed slightly. It’s not as clear cut as I originally thought. I even enjoy dressing up now.
Dressing up can be a form of creative expression. It was when I discovered my style and a love of alternate clothing that I began to enjoy it. I rarely base my decisions on what I think other people will like, but on what I like. I suppose because I’m a very creative person I realized I could extend that onto how I choose to present myself. I find it really fun working out what colours and styles will work well together and have a love for beautiful and intricate clothing.
I can’t always dress how I want to – depending on the occasion or the company I’m with – but when I do I feel happier and more confident; It’s like putting on my body armour in preparation for facing the world outside. Arguably, makeup could be seen as a mask to hide the real us beneath, but the way I apply it tends to be a show of who I am. I love connecting with others and yet I’m also a fairly shy person that finds it difficult to initiate with new people. When I wear quirky clothes I usually find that they’ll approach me instead to ask me about what I’m wearing, creating a conversation opener. While not everyone is accepting of ‘looking different,’ most reactions have actually been favourable. I’ve received a lot of compliments, even from complete strangers. A woman recently asked me to pose for a photo to show her daughter who also appreciates alternate dress.
Clothes are often associated with certain groups or types of culture. The way we present ourselves may just be a way of trying to feel like we belong to something. Geeks and gamers might choose to wear themed apparel for instance. That’s partly why it can be hurtful to be told it’s wrong to look a certain way, as it might hold some value to us that is more than purely aesthetic (for me, the gothic style symbolises freedom of expression and not judging others by their appearance.)
We’ve all heard the adage ‘don’t judge a book by its cover,’ but how we choose to present ourselves can actually give an indication of our interests and culture. I usually find it easier to open up to a person who looks similar to me. Of course, people still run much deeper than that – even members of the same sub-culture can be very different -, but whether we like it or not, appearance plays a factor. Sometimes we alter the way we look depending on the situation so that we can create the preferred impression.
There are lots of reasons for why a person might want to dress-up or use cosmetics, and it isn’t just to please others. I’m still not keen on there being a set ideal for how we should look, as this can have a negative impact on our self-esteem. It often disturbs me to hear people talking about changing themselves as if it’s going to be a quick confidence fix or as a result of bullying, just to find the effect doesn’t last as long as they hope. I also think that there is a certain beauty to how our scars and imperfections tell a story about how we’ve lived our lives. There is certainly no harm in wanting to take care of our appearance however.
I don’t consider myself to be particularly attractive by certain standards, but I’m content with the way I look; I see the same face when I gaze in the mirror everyday and I’ve come to accept it as a part of who I am. When I apply makeup and wear fancy clothes, it’s not just to beautify myself, but also a way of representing my personality on the surface. I came across this post on the blog ‘The Sisterwives‘ that has a wonderful sentiment to it: whatever is your thing, be real to yourself.
- How do you deal with people who think beauty and makeup is superficial?
- Why Makeup isn’t superficial
- The Science of Makeup