Saturday, March 16, 2013

Confession: I'm a Total Fashion Fraud

Act #75:  Embrace your own sense of style.

I have a confession.  I'm a total fraud when it comes to fashion and style.  Since I was 15, in my yearning to fit in, I secretly scoured teen magazines so I would know how to properly pair multi-colored socks with complimenting scrunchies.  Yes, there is an actual science to this.  In the late 80's we would gather in  my teenage girlfriends bedrooms on weekends and compare shiny v. opaque v. shimmery lip gloss and I would pretend that I could tell the difference between them.  My college years were somewhat of a respite because I comfortably fell into the "thrift-shop trendy" category and found great satisfaction in creating my own style from the recycled fashion of others. And then I had to grow up and go to a grown-up job and there were meetings, and business functions, and fancy work receptions and I found myself feeling pressured to get manicures and pedicures and professional haircuts.  The only thing I hated more than spending my hard-earned money on these beauty rituals, was the time I wasted while having them done.  I did not care to have a personal relationship with my hairdresser, to share my most intimate thoughts with my manicurist.  Or for some stranger dude to rub up and down on my legs with exotic lotions.  But I did it anyway, thinking it was the only way that I could possibly fit in with the women around me that looked so perfectly put together. 

When I went on trips with my girlfriends I sometimes felt like I was from a different planet when they used terms like lululemon....seaweed detoxifying wrap...bumble and bumble....shellac gel manicure.  But I played along, fighting back the urge to peel the seaweed off my face and stick it in some miso broth.  One time when I was engaged in a conversation with a group of girls about the importance of investing in a good pair of jeans (in this case Seven brand jeans with a price tag of about $200) I didn't have the nerve to tell them that I bought my jeans at Target. On sale. For $19.99.  I want to be careful to point out that I am not judging women who are born with this natural sense of style and seriously, some of my best friends fall in this category, and I love them with every fiber of my being.  In many ways I'm jealous that it doesn't come naturally for me, but at this point in my life, the thought of coming out and accepting that I'm utterly and hopelessly a fashion fraud feels.....well....liberating. 

Not too long ago one of my younger colleagues, a fresh-out-of-college feminist told me that she was thinking about copying my "activist" look for a rally that we were both attending.  Puzzled, I asked her what exactly that meant.  Apparently for the last year or so, ever since I entered the non-profit world, I've developed a regular style that consists of form-fitting jeans, a t-shirt with a social message (my favorite is a Human Rights Campaign t-shirt with the words "Love conquers hate"), a black or khaki blazer, and knee-high boots.  Good golly, it appears this fashion fraud may have found her own style. And it has a good ring to it: the activist look.  I like it!  Turns out when you finally stop pretending to be something you're not, you actually end up feeling like you fit in more than ever.


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