Saturday, January 1, 2011

Clothes to make me feel pretty again

It is said that the woman makes the clothes yet I've come to believe this may not be true. I remember there was a time when my wardrobe was filled with stylish clothing and accessories. A time when I went to work and I felt like one of the prettiest girls in the room all because of the outfits I wore. I realized yesterday, looking at the girls in the department next to me that I'm not nearly as fashionable and well dressed as they are.

Now most of the girls are younger than me, only one of them is married and she has a kid yet my clothing doesn't hold a candle next to theirs. Granted I'm an adult now and shouldn't worry about they way I appear in relevance to others. I shouldn't care what other people think of the way I dress. Yet, it's not the perception of others that's bothering me it's the perception of myself. I don't feel I look good in the clothes I've been blessed to have.

When I was a child my nicest clothes came from either garage sales my grandmother would take me to or as Christmas gifts from my grandparents or aunts. My parents would take us thrift store shopping or give us hand me downs from my mom and my aunts when we needed clothes. Until I started running competitively my shoes were the five dollar kind you bought at Walmart, usually all white. After I began running my parents would buy a twenty dollar pair and get upset when they lasted me a month before falling apart. Once I began working outside the home I started buying my own running shoes usually from a department store. My parents, after much reluctance and arguing bought one pair for me after my feet continued to blister and bleed due to the old pair I was wearing. At that time I couldn't afford to replace them myself and my parents would have returned the pair my mom purchased if it were not for my grandparents offering to foot the bill and my father being too proud. That season until a new pair were bought my feet were mended each night as they were always cut up so badly.

I'm aware we were quite poor, but this stuck with me in a very real way. The connection between good clothes and my self worth. When I was in elementary school I was constantly picked on as most of my clothes were from two decades ago! Kids are not very nice in elementary school! Often I'd come home in tears because of the constant torment I felt at school. I begged my parents to send me somewhere else. At the age of nine I began receiving a steady paycheck and saved most of my money, soon having enough for a year at a private school in the area. I never went to that school though, and my money was used towards, food, bus passes, and clothes for myself and my sisters.

In junior high I had moved to a different neighborhood which was a nice fresh start. Upon starting school I met Corin and Isa who taught me how to dress, put on makeup and do my hair. My mother never learned such things and thus was not able to teach me, her oldest daughter. I'm very grateful as this was a turning point for me in my school years. I began finding more "in-style" clothes at the second hand stores and my popularity began to rise. At one point I was so good at finding the "in-style" clothes my sisters would have me go shopping with them every time we went down the street to the Salvation Army Store and did some shopping.

The best portion of my schooling in relation to clothing was High School. At this time it became very popular for people to dress in "vintage" items they found at thrift stores. I absolutely adored this stage as I could find several things inside my budget which would not make me a cast out as it had when I was much younger. High School was also when I began my first full time job at the age of sixteen. I worked at a restaurant which was across the street from my bank and in the same block as one of our towns two malls. Oh what a teenage dream. I could get paid, cash my check, and go clothing shopping before getting home to help pay many of the family's bills. Lets just say I didn't save much of my money during that time.

Fast forward a bit. After I moved out of my parents home in college and thus not helping with the families finances I seemed to have more money. Strange, considering I was now paying rent and my own bills, but true. For the next six years my closet grew enormously. It didn't help that for a while I worked as a supervisor at a clothing store.

Once I married I stopped buying many clothes. I had other responsibilities and other bills which needed attention. This was fine until spring of 2010 as I was the same size in clothes for the majority of the past nine years. This past spring was my first admission to the hospital and when I received the diagnosis of Bipolar I, Anxiety Disorder and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I remained in hospital treatment, not able to work for three months. During this time my workouts decreased to a near stop and I was given plenty of money though insurance to eat at the hospital's cafeteria. So with the decrease in activity and increase in consumption of course I changed sizes.

After the hospital stay I went on a diet for the first time in my life. I dieted for months and lost only one or two pounds, but no sizes. Winter was approaching and I realized I didn't have any sweaters, slacks for work or long sleeve tops that fit. Ugh! So for my birthday I asked for gift cards to Target which would help me buy a few essentials. It helped a great deal. I went from no clothes to a few.

Don't get me wrong, I'm grateful for what I have, yet my self-confidence is greatly related to the clothes I wear. When I feel stylish, I feel pretty, then I feel confidant in every step I take. Yes, I've never been a tiny model stick of a figure like my youngest sister, Julya. I've always been a little curvy and I like it. Gaining a few extra pounds should not mean that I don't get to buy pretty clothes and look fantastic when I want to dress the part. Yes, I did have a child to care for in the first few years of our marriage and my looks always came second to his looks and needs but that child is back with his own mother now and I need to live for now, not the future.

I also shouldn't assume that I'll be able to get much smaller than I am currently at least not permanently. I've been thinking a great deal about my husband and I starting our own family some day, not immediately so no one get any ideas. It's true I do have baby fever no matter how much I attempt to fight it, the urge is there. We're just not ready.

First of all I need to learn to care for myself before those around me. I've never done that before. When I was growing up I cared for my sisters and often my parents. When I became an adult I cared for my husband and very shortly after we were married a baby boy for two years. Shortly after our foster son when back to live with his mother, I adopted a cat. I've always been the "caregiver" to everyone but myself. I need to teach myself that I'm not selfish if I would like to buy a new sweater which we can afford to look and feel pretty.

So in an attempt to care for myself and get back to the days when I felt as though heads turned when I walked in I went shopping yesterday. I went to Kohl's with the budget of $30.00. I could buy what ever tops or sweaters I loved as long as my total remained under that budget. It worked! I bought a lovely top I'm now wearing for $7 and a beautiful cardigan for only $8, both on clearance. I love the way I look! I love the way I feel! This morning as I dressed I even put my contacts in, did my makeup and hair. I feel pretty again and happy!

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