Sometimes I truly believe it’s conditioned into young women to be ‘perfect’ – to dress, to act, and to appear a certain way. Although I know times have changed and society is no longer rooted in these historic ideals, I can fully recognize all the ways I was influenced as a young girl. Despite my parents’ well-meaning ways, there were moments they wanted me to ‘behave’ and ‘dress right.’ I grew up in the church, so knowing that good morals and proper dress were intertwined was something that went without question, even as young as five years old. And then there were school dress codes which, frankly, inhibited me, as a middle school girl, to learn the concept of ‘dress for yourself and no one else.’
I’m not bitter, and honestly, these beliefs aren’t wrong. I grew up recognizing that my sexuality, my feminism – those aspects carried power. And the woman I wanted to be was one who wasn’t using them in manipulative ways. The woman I wanted to be was one that was recognized, first, for her personality and spark. Not for her clothing.
But it took me years to come into my feminine identity. To really ‘figure out’ who I wanted to be, and if I wanted to be a mix of all the things I loved – that was okay. I now understand the value of teaching a young person, especially a young girl, the power of learning to dress for yourself. The power of recognizing that no one can tell you who you are or who you should be.
If you are someone who has come into her own power, here are things you know to be true:
1. It takes you far less time to ‘get ready.’
And that’s not because your routine is different than the woman next to you. It’s not because of makeup or lack thereof. It’s truly because, from sweats to a classy blouse, you wear your clothing with confidence. It’s not about second-guessing or questioning who you are. You now know. And you’re proud.
2. You prefer to shop alone.
Perhaps when you were younger you valued the opinions of others. You crammed three of your best friends with you in the dressing room, giggling over the material that was too sheer, too bold, too bright. This was before – when you weren’t quite sure who you wanted to be. Now you prefer the silence – just you and the mirror – understanding now, the priority and power of self-love comes from within.
3. You’re no longer afraid of what others think.
When it comes to dates or events, you’re no longer scared of the opinions of others. You’re not wearing a certain something because of what you think others will like, or won’t. You’re simply not concerned. And this, perhaps, is the biggest liberation of all.
4. You are comfortable with your sexuality.
There are items in your closet that you would consider traditionally ‘feminine’ or ‘masculine.’ And perhaps, in some ways, you fit both identities. This is what growing into your own skin is all about – you aren’t afraid to wear something different because what makes you comfortable is exactly that – about you – and no one else.
5. Your style is either shifting or defined.
If you dress for yourself (and no one else) you’re not concerned with the latest fashion trends. Maybe you wear white all year long, rock those embarrassing Crocs you’ve shamelessly had since high school, or wear an oversized hoodie running errands. You aren’t worried about ‘keeping up’ with what others are doing because your style is yours alone.
When it comes to finding things that define ‘you,’ you either have a distinct feel to what you like to wear, or you don’t. And either is okay.
At the end of the day, you know that clothing doesn’t define you. You define you.
Featured Image Credit:Mackenzi Martin