One of the best things my parents did was tell me consistently throughout my childhood and adolescence that I was beautiful. Whether or not it was true didn’t matter then, and it doesn’t matter now. Because deep down, despite my current age (40) and all the crazy things dominant culture tells me every day about my supposedly “failing” looks, I continue to believe I am good-looking. Because people who mattered to me during my formative years assured me of it ALL THE DAMN TIME.* (Case in point: my face looks AWFUL in most pictures. I look at these images, hear my father or mother’s voice exclaiming over how gorgeous I am, and I blame photography for not being able to capture my real face.)
UPDATE: I know I have to address race and body privilege as they relate to this issue. I know, too, that in doing so I must engage more directly with the influences of wider culture, not just parental/domestic training. I will do so in an upcoming post. Please stand by.
Feminism took over where my parents left off. Dominant culture tells me, “You’re getting wrinkles around your eyes and lips”; “There are grooves in your cheeks, and you’re starting to get jowls”; “Wrinkles are the worst, and you are not beautiful if you have them.” But feminism assures me that it’s perfectly natural to look older as I grow older; that it’s crazy to treat visible signs of aging like some kind of moral failure; that beauty is only one of the ways to evaluate my worth; and that beauty is not determined by lines – or lack thereof – on one’s face.
That said, as much as I love colour, I’ve learned I like my outfit photos best when I wear black. For whatever reason, I feel most myself, and most beautiful – however we interpret this politically loaded word – in black.
Black Outfit #1: Office Pyjamas
Worn on a cooler day to hole up in my office, slipping out occasionally to take advantage of the fantastically short coffee lines during The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.
And here, because as you know, I am a genius with the camera, is a close-up of the mesh sleeves that make this sweater springy:
Black Outfit #2: Convocation
I wore this under my insufferably hot robes at convocation which I attended because, as noted previously, my favourite student graduated. Then I sat in my office trying to write things until I decided I had heat exhaustion and could, therefore, go home and watch the new season of Arrested Development. (My review: Meh, despite repeated ostrich appearances and Portia de Rossi’s cute haircut. I laughed out loud WAY LESS in this season than in others.)
Is there a colour you feel best in, StyleNation?
Also, if you feel like sharing, how did your parental figures get it right or wrong
when it came to building your self-esteem?