I pride myself on being a pretty thick-skinned individual, but every so often, a comment can really get under my skin and force me to take a deep look into what I am doing, why I am doing it, and whether I can stand the sort of person into which I am being shaped by my actions. I think this is usually because those comments hit a nerve, ring true with what I may already be wondering about myself.
In this particular instance, the comment, from someone extremely important to me, was: "Don't you worry that people think you are conceited?" This simple --and valid-- question struck me like a needle to the heart and sent me into a tailspin of self-doubt. But I can absolutely see where it came from. It is easy to reduce people who curate their outer appearance to shallow, vapid attention-seekers, who worship at the altar of commercialism. But with any stereotype, this view is overly simplistic and fails to consider the individual.
What I have come to understand through some intense self-reflection is that I am a creator. I am a clothes hoarder, a compulsive shopper, and sometimes miss out on transcendent life experiences in the quest for the perfect Instagram photo. But I am also a creator. For me, the act of getting dressed is an art form, one that I find extremely fulfilling. And the act of sharing my outfits on the internet and social media is a means of self-expression, not a cry for attention.
I consider the subtleties of a beautifully cut suit jacket the way a sommelier might mull over the graceful flavor notes of a fine wine. My study of color and shape and the quest for harmonious balance between them is not so different than that of a painter. It just so happens that in my instance my body is the canvas. Would you fault an artist for holding an exhibition of his work? Or call a musician conceited if she played a concert of songs she wrote? Sharing your art and having it be considered by others is essential to the human experience, no matter what form that art takes. It is one of the ways humans connect deeply to other humans and one of the ways that humans empower other humans to express themselves.
A friend of mine recently told me that my many and varied styles of dress "force her to consider my dynamism." And I really love that. I am a multi-faceted, intellectual, creative, empathetic, opinionated woman who just so happens to love fashion. Please don't mistake me for anything less complicated.
The old saying goes, it's what's on the inside that counts. But perhaps we should all view the outside as a window to the wonders within. Or maybe we should all just stop judging each other and do whatever the fuck makes us happy.
Shirt - The Lady Goodman via Depop | Jeans - Re/Done | Shoes - Vans| Sunglasses - Le Specs | Scarf - Vintage • Photography: Kevin McDonald