Charis asks: I don’t know what has gotten into me, that makes me feel so self-conscious these days. I used to be unbothered with what I wore, only caring about whether or not it’s comfortable. But now, I think of how people would think about me, and whether my so-called fashion sense would allow me to fit in with my other friends. However, my friends said that I have a very ‘Auntie’ style. I usually wear long jeans with a sweater. To me, it’s just being conservative so as to avoid giving guys the wrong impression. But, to my friends, I am being a coward by being scared to show some skin. I tried to shop for slightly-above-knee dresses, but I felt uncomfortable in them. I can’t take it anymore. What do I do?
Well Charis, here’s the good and bad news: Welcome to Teenagerhood! It’s great that you got to spend your childhood being a sensible girl who cared mainly about comfort, practicality, and safety. Now here all that intelligence goes – whoosh – out the window!!
Now am I saying you’re not intelligent anymore? Of course not. In fact, in many ways, you’re smarter than you’ve ever been. But now that you’re a teenager, some things matter that never mattered before. Like just how important other people’s opinions are, and whether or not you’re attractive to the people you’re attracted to. And especially Being Cool – that’s really important to teenagers in ways that never were there when you were younger!
So when you ask “what’s gotten into you,” that’s the answer: it’s being a teenager. Nothing bad, nothing wrong, and nothing to be ashamed of at all. But it is something you have to deal with – you will never be the same little girl again, and so you have to figure out how to deal with these new feelings, cares, and opinions of yours. Particularly about Clothes!
Now you don’t need me to lord this one over you. But you have probably already guessed that the only clothing I ever wear is a collar. Sometimes Handsome’s friends have tried to put a bandana on me, and I always manage to scratch it off at once – so I really mean it, nothing else gets on me! I love feeling free, and walking through this world with nothing covering me up at all!
Oops! There I go again! Please, Charis, do NOT take my exultation as meaning that you should go outside naked! Beyond what it’d do to your reputation, you could get horrible sunburn!! But I would like you to feel as happy about the way you look as I do about me.
So how do you get there? Do you dress in exactly the clothes your friends think are best? Or do you keep on dressing like an “Auntie?” Or do you dress like a boy, or like a Goth or a Cheerleader or like Lady Gaga? Here’s my crazy answer: All Of The Above!
This is a time in your life for you to experiment, to find out who you are. Now there are lots of ways teenagers might experiment that can get dangerous, of course, but dressing really isn’t one of them. What’s the worst that can happen? You feel embarrassed about the way you looked one day? You’ll get over it! Of course I don’t want you to dress in a way that makes you feel really uncomfortable, but should you try some styles that aren’t your usual? Sure, why not!
It’s very possible that you could wear something that you think is wonderful and everyone else hates. Okay, so I know that feeling – it’s what happens when I roll in stuff that I think smells awesome and then Handsome sticks me in the bathtub and makes me sleep outdoors. But that’s only for a night, and the next day everything is fine.
Charis, it’s clear to me that you are a really vibrant and unique person. And what I’d love most is for you to find as many ways to express that vibrancy and uniqueness as you can. Maybe you’ll end up dressing really Retro, and loving wearing vintage dresses. Maybe you’ll keep your skin covered but wear the wildest rainbow of colors at school. Maybe you’ll create a whole new look that everyone wants to copy! Or maybe you’ll find that you’re really the most comfortable dressing in a way that fits in really well with everyone else. Any of these is great – as long as it’s what you want!
So be true to yourself, try some things out, and before you know it you’ll have found a way of dressing that really suits you. And as I say on here all the time, the more comfortable you are with yourself, the more attractive you’ll be to others!
Just like me!
Good Luck and Have Fun,