I have a lot of clothes. Some would say too much. I have always loved fashion, accessories and shopping. When I was a little girl, I would insist on sporting a purse. It was usually empty. But I knew it matched and completed my outfit.
Today and most Sundays in the summer I wear cut off camo pants. They are good for gardening. They have pockets I can shove dirty tools into. They are just long enough to cover my knees when I crawl around my tomato plants. Right now, I am waiting for them to come out of the dryer, because I wore them on Friday too. There was a time I wouldn’t of looked at those pants. Now, I guess you could call them my favorite item of clothing.
In the past, I would not have considered wearing a fashion don’t, for several reasons. The primary reason was, “What would people think?” I am fully aware of the judgement attached to people’s appearance. I do it and it has been done to me. I am going to a budget meeting next week. I will wear a blazer. I know that makes me look like a smarty pants and it will sway people’s opinion of me before I open my mouth. I need all the help I can get.
The other day someone described the area I live in as a “Judgement Free Zone.” We were explaining the dress code of my country town to someone who lives out of state. It got me thinking about the freedom that comes from that. No one in my town cares what I wear today or any other day. I’m not saying everyone around here with holds their opinion on everything. I’m just reveling in my style immunity. It’s a wonderful experience to know I can wear whatever I want and no one gives a shit! I can just be me!
This also got me thinking about how miserable it feels to be judged. I have to admit I haven’t had a lot of experience with being judged negatively for my appearance. I am a white, educated woman who dresses mainstream most of the time. I can usually fly under the radar. But when my husband and I go out on his motorcycle we look the part. Leather isn’t just a fashion statement. It serves as protection. If it’s chilly, we will wear leather head to toe. I also need to wear a bandana or my hair will be a rat’s nest when I get home. I learned that the hard way. We will usually grab an ice cream when out on a ride. I know! we’re such bad asses! One day we stopped at a rather nice restaurant, that also has a very casual outside bar. I’m used to being seated in “the nice part”. As my husband I approached the host, I could see his face change to a scowl. He said, “We are about to close (in 45 minutes). If you run to the outside bar, maybe they will get you a hotdog.” I knew in that moment he was making assumptions about us based on how we looked. I was shocked. But I was also angry because it felt lousy to be on the receiving end of judgement.
We all have default modes, make assumptions and judge. We can’t analyze every experience all day every day. Our minds quickly put things into categories because we have a lot to think about. Much of this process becomes automatic. But we can become more aware of when this process impacts other people negatively.
“When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself as someone who judges” ~ Dr. Wayne Dyer