On Dressing for Yourself

So I started a project of sorts

in October that I had no intention of doing, but has ended up being what I look forward to most every day. To set the scene I should let you know that I work for a very small business that has a fairly relaxed and casual environment. To that point, I’d fallen into a terrible habit of not really dressing to impress. You could routinely find me showing up to work in a pair of shorts and a t-shirt. To be fair, our boss had a similar uniform. In recent months, however, I’d started to hear critique for being so casual and not dressing to my role and I took that to heart. The next day or so I came to work in an outfit that I was really feeling and jokingly asked a coworker to take a photo of me for the ‘gram. I enjoyed getting complimented (cause duh) and decided that this could be something I do every day. I’d already been following a few prominent men’s fashion influencers and decided I’d try to do what they do in a Buzzfeed style 30-day challenge.

 One of the first shots that I took, trying too hard obvi. 

One of the first shots that I took, trying too hard obvi. 

 

I have no expectations for this going anywhere professionally, but I do find comfort in the routine. It has turned into a daily therapy session of sorts. As I’ve written about before, I have a long ongoing history of hating my appearance. Body image issues and I go back a loooong way, probably back to elementary school when I was already pushing into men’s clothing sizes as early as 4th grade. So I’ve been struggling with this my whole life and yet lately it hasn’t been as bad when I’ve been working on this “fashion diary” of sorts.

 Chicago, how I love thee.

Chicago, how I love thee.

 

When all of the media you consume shows the same 50 iterations of what the ideal male is, it gets hard to be comfortable in a “less desirable” body. It is very hard to feel sexy or interesting when you’re the big guy in the crowd. And to their credit, I have to say my coworkers are some of the most supportive people I know, and real to boot. They’re the first ones to compliment an outfit or notice when I change something up. They’re also the first ones to call me out if I don’t shave, and lately over my receding hairline (fuck genetics).  Ultimately, however, they’ve been my biggest support group. It’s even gotten to a point where they fight over who takes my daily outfit photo! The best part about these last few months has been finding my own acceptance. I went through 12 weeks of therapy in college to try to work through some of this to no avail, yet the simple act of taking a photo of myself each day and posting it for all to see is suddenly working.

I think it helps that we live in a society that is drastically more accepting than 2001. I don’t feel terrible posting photos of my double chin or where my waist is looking thick. Back in my self-portraiture years, I had this super unhealthy habit of editing out all of my flaws which when I look back on now, makes me so ashamed. Why was I not happy with myself then?

 This is the first look where I really thought, damn I can do this. 

This is the first look where I really thought, damn I can do this. 

 

I know you’re probably tired of me playing the gay card, but I think it has a lot to do with my general acceptance of myself. Just 5 years ago I was afraid of coming out and I think that translated to an unhealthy relationship with my body. I remember the year before I came out I was in the best shape of my life because I felt like if I couldn’t address the “problem”  of my sexuality, I could deal with my body image issues. I ended most nights in a late night run at the campus gym literally pouring my self-hatred into my workouts. And let me tell you, it made me even more unhappy. When I finally came out I felt sooooooo much more comfortable in my own body. It was unreal the change that occurred in my day-to-day. Now that I’ve been out for a few years I’ve been better able to cope with my sense of self and the body that I live in. Not everyone can get perfect abs (Yes I know it’s theoretically possible, but not probable for this blogger). I’m 25, the age, I feel, where we really come into our own. Yes, I’m still single and I live with my parents, and am not necessarily utilizing my journalism degree to its full potential, but ya know what? I’m happy. I’m really fucking happy.

 My most liked photo to date. You can't tell but these pants are pinstripe and were terrifying to wear in public!

My most liked photo to date. You can't tell but these pants are pinstripe and were terrifying to wear in public!

 

I can’t say that a daily fashion journal will be the solution to anyone else’s happiness, but like try it maybe? You might be surprised. For now, I’m comfortable in my skin and excited to see this project through a full year now and see who I am on the other side. Just remember our favorite Princess Mia Thermopolis’ favorite quote from Eleanor Roosevelt, “Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Wear what makes you feel good, and everything else will follow.

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Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent
— Eleanor Roosevelt