Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Stepping out into the light (a bit of a ramble that may or may not make sense)

I have been following along with something called Wardrobe Therapy, and many of the full-time participants have been added to my list of links on the sidebar. But they (Susie in particular) have brought up a good point, which to me is as follows:

How can you spend time on your appearance and try to improve yourself on the outside while still avoiding being judged solely on your appearance or thought to be frivolous for thinking about how you look instead of reading Nietzsche and growing your own rutabagas?

Things to be taken into account: I was never the pretty one, so I spent most of my growing-up period letting my mom buy me clothes. I love my mom, but now that I buy my own clothes, I am much more willing to hunt down the perfect pair of women's size 12 shoes instead of just buying men's shoes instead. I have an appearance I want to project. At work, I want to look relatively professional among the students in ill-fitting skimpy clothing, I don't want to look like a student, but I don't want to wear clothes that I mind getting acid spilled on. This limits my options. A lot. Outside of work, I want to look feminine and feel comfortable. Having never been petite, I don't want to make myself look wide and stubby when being tall with broad shoulders is NOT a bad thing. Having spent too much time as a kid with unfortunate haircuts and being mistaken for a boy, I am trying to spend the minimum necessary time and funds on my appearance but still be happy with how I look and how my appearance makes me feel about myself.

I guess I have been lucky, I have never felt judged by my appearance as I feel my appearance to be generally unremarkable. I am trying to take more time and put more effort into putting myself together, but I have spent a long time being ignored and that is why I do things like take up the tuba instead of dressing up - it may be less efficient but it gets people's attention.

At this point, if I can find pants long enough to cover both my buttcrack and my ankles, and shirts long enough to cover my belly and my bra, I will often consider myself just fine. I want to be able to do more than just the bare minimum without feeling frivolous for caring. I want sleek, comfortable clothing for my sleek, comfortable life. I want to have a personal style that is defined by more than being the girl with the interesting scarves (because that only works in the winter). I want my wardrobe to help me feel like I am worth taking time for and not just enable me to fade into the background.

At this point, feeling frivolous for being concerned about my appearance seems to be one of my lesser worries.


drwende said...

And every time I look at your photo, I envy how pretty you are... but yes, clothing designers treat height as a handicap in everyone except size 0 models, and you're also in a guy-oriented field like I am, right? Yeah. Been there. Done that. Bought the button-down shirt.

Cheryl said...

Let me introduce you to www.designershoes.com

They specialize in bigger shoes. I've also become addicted to Earth shoes and know they go up to 12. Zappos has excellent service and tons of selection as far as the big feet go.

I feel the same about my clothes, too. I can't really wear my good stuff to work because I'll get boogers, dirt, and markers all over myself, but I don't want to be frumpy looking. And, I have to have to have comfy shoes, so any heels are out.

But, you are gorgeous and I miss you! I'm glad I can keep in touch with you this way :-)

scb said...

Looking at your picture, I'm baffled by how you can view yourself as "not the pretty one"...

Your "ramble" definitely makes sense. Thanks so much for sharing!

Anne (in Reno) said...

Thanks, Wende and SCB! I'm very flattered. The problem is having lots of older sisters that are talented and beautiful and growing up in their shadow - nobody ever talks about how talented and beautiful you are when you're surrounded by 6'2" blonde Amazons that run marathons. When we went on a family trip overseas, my sisters were getting propositioned by the locals while I was the one translating the menu.

Cheryl, I will totally check out that website and the Earth shoes, I've had good luck with Zappos in the past, I can also heartily recommend Clarks, sometimes I can even get them in a 12W on Zappos.

What I am realizing is, even though I have found places that will make pants in both a "tall" and a "curvy" cut, and of course those are the ones that never go on sale. If I was rich and didn't have a grubby job I would dress so awesome, I swear.

lorijo said...

This is a great post and thanks for sharing. My brother isn't a tall amazon goddess, but I get the feeling of being overshadowed. It sucks. The only thing I have to say is over the years (and it is years because I'm 42 and my baby brother is 40) I have gotten over it- he's much better at some things- I'm better at others- and it all works out in the end....

Alana in Canada said...

You've mentioned this acid thing before--couldn't you wear a lab coat?

They're definitely professional.

I totally remember the grad student budget problem, though.