Saturday, February 23, 2013

Purple tights and polka dots

Congratulations! You are reading the 100th Island of Misfit Toys blog post! Do you feel amazing? Has your life been forever altered? Let's hope so. Thanks for reading and I hope that you'll stick with me for 100 more. If Google brought you here from the dark recesses of a search, I hope you enjoy your visit and come back again soon.

So what to discuss on this historic day? I thought about this a lot and had several ideas planned. I settled on this one today because I'm supposed to be working towards a goal this year and what better way to check in on that goal than to talk about it for the millionth time? Back in the heady last days of 2012, I shared my goal for 2013: to be the leading lady of my life. One would think that this would be a super easy thing to do. But when you've been the sidekick most of your life, it's hard to step into the spotlight of leading lady. I'm trying, I really am.

I also figured out some things I could do to quantify this goal since there has to be a way for me to know that I've achieved the goal at the end of the year. Or at least made progress. One of the ways that I thought I could quantify this goal was to "Be more daring in my fashion choices and dress like a leading lady." Originally I thought I'd make progress towards achieving this by wearing a pair of purple skinny jeans my mother gave me. Skinny jeans are not my favorite fashion trend but I liked this pair for whatever reason. Unfortunately, I have failed at wearing these pants so far. The boots I bought really don't work and I have not been able to move past that yet. Let's put it this way, I have a vision and that vision includes boots. Yes, I could wear other shoes but when you're a leading lady, you're cultivating a look. Until I find the right boots, those jeans will stay in the closet staring at me and judging me.

Another thing that often stops me from being more daring in my fashion choices is the very casual work environment of my office. I can wear jeans every day. I used to joke that I could probably wear pajamas to work and no one would say anything but that's not really true anymore. Anyway, working in a casual office makes it harder to try more things because it's obvious you're trying something. Or people think that you have a date (thank you dear co-worker for asking me about this every time I wear a skirt) or something official is happening during the day. I had a conversation with a co-worker recently in which we both revealed that we wear some variation of the same five outfits each week. This made me sad.

So I did what I think a leading lady would do (no, not go on a shopping spree - I am not made of money): I looked in my closet to see what was really in there. I found some pretty great things that I forgot I even owned - girly tops, pink things, dresses I usually only wear in the spring or summer, skirts, so many skirts. All I really needed to do was mix some things together, buy some tights, and reassess my shoe collection. And that, my friends, is exactly what I did. If this was an actual movie, there would be a fun montage of me trying on all the clothes set to a fantastic soundtrack with really flattering lighting. I vote for some Go-Go's and maybe the Soup Dragons for the music.

It's fascinating to see the reactions of people to a small thing like a pair of purple tights. But reactions there were when I rocked purple tights this week. It wasn't about being outlandish or over the top (I wore gray and black as a balance). It was about having a little fun on a Wednesday and not wearing jeans for the 500th day in a row. I love my jeans but I'm so bored with them. I got compliments from people and felt confident in my appearance that I usually only feel when I get my hair cut (you know the new haircut feeling I'm talking about). I felt like I had pulled off being a leading lady for once and dare I say it, I felt pretty.

And also, I'd like to point out that I'm regularly wearing skirts in cold weather. Like a boss.

The same day I wore the purple tights, I also read two articles about women and their inability to admit that they're pretty. The original article, "Why Can't Women Think They Are Pretty" hit close to home because I've often felt the same things the author describes. Women and girls are taught to be modest but also that appearance is so important to happiness and fulfillment. So what are we supposed to do? Admit we're pretty and be accused of being vain? Be modest all the time and not ever take pride in something? Can we ever do anything without feeling bad about it later? Feeling pretty and being able to admit it is empowering and God forbid any of us feel empowered about anything.

The second article "Why Don't Women Say 'I'm Pretty?' Here Are Ten Reasons", takes it a little further. I appreciated the different takes that the author's friends had on why we don't say "I'm pretty" with ease. Again, I found myself agreeing with all of them. I tried (in vain) to remember a time when I have said "I'm pretty" and the only thing I could come up with was when I was much younger and used to change clothes all the time (like a fashion show that my mom didn't appreciate). I'm certain that when I was 6 or 7 I thought I was pretty and had no problems telling anyone that. Now, I would probably never say that out loud even if I might occasionally say it in my head. And that is unfortunate.

Here's the thing: in order to truly be the leading lady of my own life, I have to embrace all the things about my life that I love, like, and loathe (and apparently only use words beginning with an "l"). It's taken me 30ish years to be happy with who I am, what I look like and how I feel about living in my particular body and world. I can admit I'm pretty and damn anyone who doesn't agree or thinks I'm being vain. I am never going to look like anyone in a magazine ad or a fashion show and that's fine. But I can have fun with fashion and let it be part of who I am. If it's purple tights one day and a polka dot dress the next, then so be it. Let the fashion flag fly. That's what this leading lady is going to do.

 And because I know only like four of you know who the Soup Dragons are:

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