Clothing reconsidered

In my post Love your Body I introduced the topic of body positivity. I wrote something about how I think getting used to being naked or else in simple clothing will be good for your body image and self-love. I then did not specify simple clothing which makes it a very vague statement, but I did mean something with it.

Clothing often seems to be really important. I recall that when I had the age of five a group of girls didn’t let me play with them because I was not wearing a dress. Later, I felt regularly as if I wasn’t really wearing the right and nice clothes and as if that made me worth less. I feel as if it took me ages to somewhat find out what I want and don’t want to wear and I just still don’t know really. However, I did find some things.

With the ‘simple clothing’ I meant two things. First is that the clothing that you wear as a person is often linked to your ego and your persona. The ego is how you see yourself as a person, your identity, whereas the persona is the image you create for others to see. Your clothing is part of that in the way that you can see yourself as ‘a person with this kind of style’ and that others will perceive you like that as well. This is useful, for this way you can more easily group yourself with others with a similar style. These people will recognize your style and you will probably get in touch more easily, for you both assume that you must have a lot in common.

But there’s also another side to the coin: this way you can dissociate yourself from others with different styles. I mean that we tend to judge others based on their appearance and that clothing makes a big part of that. We tend to have prejudices against people with certain looks.

I have always been unsure about all of those group forming processes. I never felt as if I really belonged somewhere or with certain groups of people. The reason was probably that I have never really known what kind of person I am or would like to be, thus with whom to group together. Clothing played its part. I was insecure about my clothing and appearance and afraid others wouldn’t accept me because of my looks. It might be possible to dress in a way a certain group would accept you, but how about all the others then?

I may be dramatizing a bit here, but if you think about it: it is there. It doesn’t have to be a problem, but it can be in the way. You can also just not care about it and dress the way you like yourself, for yourself and no one else. But why do you actually like to dress like that? Can it be because the fashion industry tells you it is the way to go? Do you associate the look with a certain ‘type of people’? I am not saying this is always the case or that it has to be a problem, but it is interesting to think about. I have been thinking about these things at least. Even if you don’t care about clothing at all and just wear whatever, this will influence how others see you, and how you see yourself.

So, taking all this into account, what clothing would be optimal?

For me, I found simple clothing to be the answer. With this I don’t necessarily mean the simplest clothing one can find, but just somewhat neutral. Or better: I find a somewhat neutral attitude towards clothing to work very well. A friend once said: ‘I like being average.’ At that point I thought it was a rather silly thing to say, for it seems as if most people try to be outstanding or unique (because there’s a lot of pressure from ‘our society’ to be as such) and think average is not good enough or boring. But now I totally understand him and share his thought. In line with that, I have come to think that I don’t want my clothing to represent anything in particular. It is as simple as that.

It’s all pretty obvious, no? Maybe not, however, it does help me to think about it like this. I don’t have to look like something in particular. I don’t have to be anything in particular. There goes any pressure that was there. Doesn’t that feel good?

When I went travelling last year and was limited in clothing to bring, I told myself beforehand: ‘Nina, you’re not going there to be pretty, so it doesn’t matter what you’re wearing.’ And that really helped me! Every time I was a bit insecure about those kind of things, I told myself that being pretty wasn’t on my list and I calmed down. Also, I noticed how everybody just accepted me, even though I didn’t think so positively about my choice of clothes and my looks. In the end, the person who cares the most about your looks and judges the hardest are not your peers, but you.

How does clothing that doesn’t represent anything look? I can’t really tell you, I myself am just doing something. At this point I am mainly trying not to care too much. I do still care, though, and I am still a bit insecure, also about my body, but it’s okay. The idea that clothing isn’t so important for me and the people around me really helps.

The second thing I meant with ‘simple clothing’ is just comfortable clothing. Earlier, I never really cared about how comfortable clothing was to wear. I didn’t really distinguish the comfort of different clothes, I just didn’t notice it. Lately, I have been trying to get more in contact with my feelings and bodily sensations, both mentally and physically. As a result, I have become more aware of comfort and discomfort. So where years ago I didn’t mind wearing tight jeans or other less comfortable clothing, now I prefer soft clothing that just feels nice.

Getting more thoroughly connected to yourself and your body is a really good and healthy thing to do. I think that improving this connection with yourself will also enable you to connect with others more easily and on a deeper level. I feel as if clothing or how it is often valued forms a barrier in getting to these deeper connections. It would be nice if we would be able to let clothing and appearance play a smaller role in in our lives. Then the energy we now spend on worrying about those things can be used in better ways, for personal development and connecting to each other.

I may conclude by adding the following: of course it depends on your environment to which extent you are free to choose whichever clothing you want to wear. All the things I wrote about are pretty personal and can differ a lot, really. Further, nice clothing can also just bring joy to people, including myself, and this isn’t a bad thing. However, I do think it is good to not get too attached. But do as you please. I don’t mean to judge others based on their appearance, which actually forms the basis of everything I wrote. I try not to judge myself and others based on their appearance. I try not to judge myself and others.

As always, you can let me know what you think by writing a comment. I’d like to hear your thoughts!





11 responses to “Clothing reconsidered”

  1. eva Avatar

    Thank you Nina. So beautiful. Recently I went through my closet and got rid of so many clothes that were really not representing who I am and many of them were very uncomfortable. Now I try to wear clothes that are comfortable and usually neutral. Also shoes, I found so many high heels that I am going to get rid of. How weird. I am very tall and I was wearing high heels. What for!? They are very unhealthy and what is the point? Personally, the opinion of especially my mother has always been important for me. She still gives me her unasked opinion on my “style”. I try to ignore this and stay close to myself.

    1. Nina de Haan Avatar

      Thank you for your comment, Eva! I am trying to do the same, though, I’m having troubles throwing or giving things away, with sustainability in mind also. But I am bothered by the clothes I have and do not use. They should not be here, they should be used by someone else or not exist. It’s hard. 🙂
      Yeah, my mother has been of huge importance for me as well. How could she not? But that’s a whole other subject, which we actually discussed a few weeks ago. 🙂

    2. Nina de Haan Avatar

      Hi Eva! I don’t know if you will read this, but I am now editing my blog and came across this post and my own comment below. I am now in the student board of Wageningen Environmental Platform and we regularly organise clothing swaps! That’s a good way to deal with clothing you’re not using! Chances are bigger that way that someone will find your stuff and like thus use it. 🙂

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