I’ve been trying to incorporate the phrase, “don’t worry about it,” into my advice posts as often as I can. I’m happy to give my two cents on just about any topic, but I always want to emphasize that style rules are really just guidelines, that they can be helpful but should never cause self-doubt, that they can offer structure but should never feel oppressive. I never want any of you to feel that fashion-related advice is dragging you down, so I’ve started capping off many tutorials with a bullet point that simply says, “don’t worry about it.”
And I really mean it. I mean that you can examine style and figure-flattery advice and decide if it’s relevant to you, and if it’s not, you can and should dismiss it. In fact, even if it IS relevant to you you should feel free to dismiss it – wholly or partially. Because style should be fun and empowering and engaging, and crafting a wardrobe that makes you feel powerful should bring you joy and pleasure. And if the pressure to cultivate a defined personal style makes you feel miserable or inadequate, if fashion distracts you and belittles you and detracts from what you love in your life, then screw it. Worrying about how you look should never overtake your life. Worrying about your style should never cause you to doubt your worth. Worrying about your appearance should never stop you from chasing your dreams.
To be clear, I mean “worry” in the literal sense: Torment yourself, suffer from upsetting thoughts, fret. Thinking about, exploring, experimenting with, caring about, and refining your style can all be constructive and rewarding. But worrying about style, worrying about how good or bad you may look at all times, worrying if you’re fashionable/young/thin enough can serve as powerful distractors. Pouring energy and worry into these matters can sap you of confidence, even derail you from your life’s work.
There are forces in this world that manipulate women into believing that our primary source of power is our looks. We are made to feel that we must conform to a certain beauty-body standard, lest we become invisible, irrelevant, even targets of scorn. And it is damned hard to fight against those forces, to stare them down and remember that women are not placed on this earth merely to decorate it, women are not required to make themselves as pretty as possible every minute of every day, women are not objects. But we are not. We are are powerful and capable and creative and innovative and strong, and we will not be driven to distraction by manufactured messages stating that our worth is contingent upon our beauty. Giving into those messages can prevent us from making progress, listening to those lies can keep us down, worrying incessantly about how beautiful we may or may not be can halt us in our tracks.
If you are inclined to explore, enjoy, and feel empowered by style, by all means do so. But try not to worry about it.
Originally posted 2011-12-19 06:09:36.