Why do people dress the way they do? If they don’t like it, why not change it? If only it were that easy.
In middle school, I had a favorite pair of leggings. They were perfect, plain black and made with the softest material I’ve felt. They had a pocket in the waistband, where I was able to keep my phone during school, and were the perfect length. I wore those leggings all the time. I even went as far as wearing them during softball practice. Looking back, that is where I messed up. I shouldn’t have worn those leggings to indoor fielding practice that Monday in 2019.
We were practicing some fast-paced fielding drills with tennis balls. My coaches were competitive and turned any drill into a game. So naturally, when it was announced that the losers had to run extra laps, I was determined to win. My coach hit a tennis ball at me, and I got so caught up in the game that I dove.
I dove on the gym floor.
I dove in my favorite leggings.
I had a hole in my favorite leggings.
Now, I would like to say that I wasn’t a sensitive kid growing up, but that is far from accurate. To be truthful, I cried on the drive home from the gym. And then I cried in the Maurice’s dressing room while my mom forced me to put on jeans as a replacement to my beloved leggings.
We left that store with three pairs of jeans, all of which I hated and still don’t love to this day. My mother wouldn’t let me get any leggings. She said that everyone was wearing jeans. Jeans were so cool! You can style jeans with anything! All the kids looked so nice with jeans on. Bob’s mom won the lottery while wearing jeans, so I might have the same luck if I wore jeans too. Leggings were so last winter. Leggings were boring. Leggings only look good with some sweaters. No one wore leggings anymore.
So, I changed my wardrobe. I no longer wore leggings to school, only those “cool” jeans. I changed the shirts I wore. No more athletic shirts with the Under Armor or Nike logo on them. Only crop tops with 80’s bands and TV shows I’ve never watched or listened to on them. No more ponytails or braids. I solely wore my hair down.
These were the looks.
I have never liked the looks. I’ve forced myself to dress and look a certain way; then over time I learned to love the look. But why did I make myself change in the first place? I don’t think I can truthfully answer that.
I loved how I dressed before. It was comfortable and I was confident in myself. My clothes and style before were more athletic and didn’t show a lot of skin. Now, the clothes aren’t as comfortable. I feel insecure in the clothes that I wear because of how much of my skin is showing. But I’m dressing in the style that everyone loves. So, shouldn’t I love it too?
Why did I change?
Why don’t I change back to what I love more?
I don’t think I could. I think the feeling of dressing “differently” would cause me more discomfort than staying in the 80’s crop tops and jeans. The beauty expectation that society has burned into my brain would crumble if I ever went back. I believe I would feel less-than or weird dressing in a style that I liked. I would compare myself to others even more than I already do. I would feel bad about myself and change all over again. That mindset would continue, and I’d find myself back to the beginning, a never-ending cycle of intrusive thoughts just waiting to take me back to the Land of the Insecure.
If I changed, my friends would still be my friends. I know that they would not leave because I changed my style. I would go back to wearing comfortable clothes. Maybe I’d even join theater like I’ve always wanted to do. I would still be in orchestra, playing my violin. I wouldn’t be afraid of the social norm or people’s opinions of me. If only life could be that simple. If only.
Photo: Sweatshirt by Scott Robinson on Flickr