Many of us can remember a time where we wanted to fit in, but struggled to do so.
We’d select our clothes, style our hair, and adapt to the group in order to feel like we might belong.
Sometimes, this act is deliberate.
We watch what’s popular, we observe the group we want to belong to, and we make choices accordingly.
Sometimes, the decisions are more subtle. Societal expectations can manifest physically, in what we buy and how we dress, in the makeup we use or don’t use, in the way we style our hair.
Since I was a preteen, I loved fashion magazines. The art of fashion, the photography—I devoured the pages month after month. When I went shopping, I’d try on some of my favorite looks that I had seen, only to end up feeling like the clothes didn’t fit me. The size was fine, and the silhouettes worked with my body type, but for whatever reason, it just didn’t feel right.
I felt as if I was playing dress up.
In my teens, my friends promised that things looked good when I expressed the clothes didn’t feel right on me. They’d shop with me and even pick things out. There were times that I diverged from what they chose, but the questions and comments made my confidence waver.
In my 20s, I second-guessed myself when I still thought, “I just don’t feel like it works on me.”
In college, I selected and wore more of what felt right, but once I became a mom, I’d save the clothes that felt like me for certain occasions, mainly concerts. I wanted to fit in with the other moms I had met, so I fell back into the routine of observing and adapting.
More recently, in my 30s, I’ve come to understand myself and my style, and I’m letting go of the old me, and all of the expectations that held her back. The people in my life now love and accept me for who I am, and there’s no more need to hide, to adapt, to change.
The long hair, the flowing dresses, the flowery blouses—I’m letting them go, one by one.
Parts of this transformation came easily—the hair, step-by-step, for one.
There were certain items of clothing that I held onto, though, just in case. I wondered if I’d want to wear them again. I wondered if I’d miss this former staple in my wardrobe, or if I’d crave the feeling of a dress again.
The longer time passes, though, the more I realize that I’m simply clinging to the past. These doubts are old anxieties that have me hanging on to the last little bits of the old me.
In order to fully step into who I am, I need to release the past. I’ll take the lessons and memories with me, but I’ll leave the femme clothes behind.
It’s time to let go.
An Ode to my Simply Vera Blouse
It’s not you; it’s me.
I see you.
I’ve thought about you.
I used to wear you often.
You were a staple, a given, a go-to.
But for the past few months, I’ve neglected you.
It’s time I admit,
While you always fit well,
You were never the right fit.
As I trade in my forced-Femme for Ramones-chic,
As I swap my lace underthings for sports bras and boxer briefs,
There is simply no place for you, with me.
You’ve gone untouched, unworn, unloved.
I clung to you for too long,
And it’s time to let you go.
So I’ll take you off the hanger.
I’ll release you to another.
Just know that it’s not you, it’s me.