On Need & Self Image

One thing COVID has really forced me to do is to look at what I really need. Not what I want. Not what I think I need, but what I actually need. I think it’s safe to say for a lot of us, toilet paper is now a lot higher on that list than it used to be…right along with Clorox wipes.

I’ve always been a big fan of shopping. Not to the point I went into debt or anything. I’ve always spent within my budget, but I’ve definitely bought many things I didn’t need over the years (which was made even more clear when I moved last month).

The one area where I’ve bought the most too? Clothes. Specifically shirts. Pre-COVID, I liked buying clothes for a lot of reasons, the main one though, was to appear “normal” or to “fit in” on the outside. I didn’t want people to notice my disability. I didn’t want people to notice my limp. I wanted them to notice my outfit instead. Or to not even notice me at all because I was dressed like everyone else around me. I’ve used clothes as a tool to try and deny who I am for a long time. To try and gain acceptance and be considered like everyone else.

It’s no secret I haven’t felt pretty nearly my whole life either, so I’ve used clothes as a way to try to appear and to feel pretty. I wanted guys to notice me and I wanted other women to compliment my outfit.

Fast forward to now and I’ve had to look at clothes a totally different way. I’m not going anywhere anymore. The only time I “see” people is on a Zoom meeting or two during the week. So I stare at my closet full of cute tops and wonder…wonder if all this time I was wearing all these cute things just for everyone else? Or was there some part of me that liked wearing them for me too? I still bust out a cute top sometimes when I do have a Zoom meeting. It makes me feel a tiny sense of non-COVID normalcy. But most days, it just feels pointless and silly to wear any of my cute clothes. That being said, I am firmly against the working from home, pajama wardrobe. That’s just never been my thing and I think it would make me feel even worse. T-shirts and jeans though are now a wardrobe staple.

It might sound weird, but I used to get so excited about getting dressed for work and then grabbing a coffee on the way and walking in those doors. It made me feel like an adult. It made me feel accomplished. It made me feel like all those women I had watched in countless TV shows and movies growing up. That being taken away is one of the worst parts of not being able to go into the office. Even though I’m still working, that sense of adulthood and full accomplishment is gone, no matter what I wear.

I no longer need to buy or wear makeup to look a certain way to everyone anymore either (though I still wear it for Zoom meetings because I have so much and I don’t want it to expire and have to throw it away). I have so many hair and face products, there will probably be a vaccine before I run out of everything.

Though this entire situation absolutely sucks, it has been interesting to step back and take a really hard look at what I was buying before and what my motivations were for buying it. I hope that if we come out of this, maybe my perspective will shift and my need to buy things for validation won’t be quite so strong. Only time will tell I guess.

photo credit: Annie Mole Bicester Village Shopping via photopin (license)

2 thoughts on “On Need & Self Image

  1. I still “dress up” for work every day, even though I go as far as my dining room table to work. I still go full-on with makeup, though OK, not as much on the lipstick! Clothes don’t make the man, but sometimes clothes do make the (wo)man feel a little less pandemic-y. You’re so right about revisiting the definition of need.

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