Adolescence and Clothing: Inner and Outer Selves

These patched retro Levi’s jeans are from my very early adolescence, fashion-wise–from that leftover phase of hippy rebellion. As someone from the GenX cut-off year, I was influenced by this era older than myself and the era in which I lived. At boarding school, I swapped three skirts for this pair of blue jeans that has small embroidered hearts in purple and pink on the back pocket. Thanks, Mary, yes, I still have them. I kept patching them, but of course, I never wore them after a period of time and they don’t really fit me.

I carted them around everywhere as an odd remembrance because it reminds me of a time when I was trying to define my interior self through clothing and all that is exterior. I don’t think about clothing like this anymore. But back then, one minute I would be dressed like X and the next minute like Y and clothing was pure costuming, fun, curiosity, rebellion, and celebration of self. I couldn’t bring myself to be something, so I wore the clothes that suggested I could be something. I am now rather utilitarian most days; I don’t think of clothing in that same way. I’m more in my body, but yet the body seems to occupy a more esoteric space. I recognize clothing as an avenue of expression, but don’t use it that much in this direction.

As I say often, this is all down to how we see death and self.

For me, the more I recognize my interior as an identity, the less I seem to get worried about the exterior. I realize that what we are in the exterior can be entirely artificial. As the membrane between the inner and outer becomes more fluid, soluble, porous, there is less to worry about. We are what we are. Life is rather short. We are temporal beings. Our body is simply our exterior shell.

Social media, avatars, the way we present can be entirely false or mystical and one can be always aware of the gap between what is seen and what is hidden. I think the easiest solution is to collapse the inner and outer. What you see is what you get. That patched jean self is carried within memory. Memory is one part of the inner self, but not necessarily a construct of the present. How I became who I am in the present, was influenced by the time I spent in these jeans, but yeah, but the cells have all regenerated. I am not that girl.

I hope this makes sense for people. For those who experience anxiety about outer appearance, know that the key is to bring the inner as close to the outer as possible. It’s a much easier way to live.

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