My girl The Budget Babe sent along this truly puzzling question:
can clothing give you a false sense of security? and if so, should we be relying on that “it” bag or those high heels or that red lipstick to make us feel secure? or should we work up to the point where we’re completely confident looking like crap and then start adding the layers?
I had to think about this for a damn long time before I could formulate any kind of response, and I’m still a little wobbly about it. But here are my initial thoughts:
CLOTHING AS CRUTCH
In short, yes, clothing, shoes, accessories, and all implements of style can create a false sense of security. We may rely on clothing to reconfigure how our bodies appear to the outside world, and then feel horrible in the buff. We may fall in love with certain brands or designers, and trot out that borrowed cachet to make ourselves feel more powerful. We may decide that we look a mess without full makeup, and cringe at the thought of being seen naked-faced. And this means that, in part, our self-confidence is based upon external constructs that have nothing to do with our innate, natural, human beauty.
WHAT’S THE HARM?
We can’t go naked – not all the time, anyways. We shouldn’t shirk brands that we love because they make us feel cool. We mustn’t punish ourselves for feeling gorgeous when we’re all made up. These reactions are all utterly natural, not to mention difficult to artificially suspend. Obviously it’s not ideal for your ENTIRE self-image to be based upon your dress collection or those trendily-expensive boots. But it’s unlikely that your ENTIRE self-image would be based upon those things anyway. Do not beat yourself up for liking stuff, or letting stuff help you feel good. That is what stuff is for.
THE CRAP CONUNDRUM
While it would be quite a feat to feel confident and beautiful when you look like crap, I think it’s also well nigh impossible. Looking good and feeling good are linked. Undeniably. Look like crap, and your much more likely to feel like crap, too. Luckily, there is a better way to augment your self-image.
That said, make sure to pay attention to the non-object-based aspects of your appearance that make you swell with pride. If you feel yourself relying too heavily on the contents of your closet, spend some time in front of the mirror. Dressed. For every item you’re wearing that gives you a little surge of pleasure, identify something native to your body that makes you equally gleeful. Cultivate mindfulness of your physical charms so that they figure fully into your sense of self.
Image courtesy Nordstorm