This is a paper that I wrote for my Writing 121 class during Fall term. The assignment was to write a critical narrative talking about the way you dress or a uniform you have, and how other people perceive you when you wear it. I’ve decided to dig my paper up again and post it on this blog.
The “Weird” Category”
For many years I was embarrassed about the way I dressed. In my mind, it wasn’t trendy or fashionable, and I always got the feeling that other people were placing me in the “weird” category because of the how I dressed. However, I’ve come to realize that for the most part, that wasn’t true.
I’ve been dressing modestly for as long as I can remember. I’m a Christian, and of the Mennonite denomination, and one of the things that Mennonites value is modest dress as an outward expression of a modest spirit. I’ve always worn skirts or dresses that were at least knee length, my tops have never been tight or revealing, and my hair has always been long.
When I was 12 years old, I added one more element to this ensemble; I started wearing a prayer veil. Every morning I twisted my hair into a bun at the nape of my neck, and placed the veil on top of it all as a symbol of submission to God. It was at this time in my life that I began to dress the way I did because of a personal conviction, and not because it was what my parents told me to do.
Even so, I hated the way I dressed. While I liked the idea of modesty, I didn’t like putting it into practice. I felt like people looked at me and immediately assumed that I wasn’t cool, or that I was just weird.
Everything changed after a fight with my mom. I remember sitting in the kitchen on a sunny Fall afternoon arguing with her about the length of a skirt. She wanted me to add a few extra inches of fabric to the hem of a bright yellow skirt that I had sewn myself. I was refusing to, because I was sure that a few extra inches, obviously tacked on to the bottom of a skirt, would make me look the the weirdest kid on the planet. I hated fighting with my mom, and by the end we were both in tears, and I had a lot of thinking to do. Even though I didn’t like the things she said, there was a lot of truth to them. It was then that I realized, it doesn’t matter if I look weird, this is how I want the world to see me, because this is me.
Crazily enough, when my perspective on myself and the way I dressed changed, so did everyone else’s. Suddenly, I no longer felt like everyone was categorizing me as “the kid who dresses weird,” I was just “Jenny,” a regular person who happened to dress a little differently.
Looking back on it now, I don’t believe that people’s opinions of me changed at all, and if they did, it was mostly likely very little. What did change was my opinion of myself. When I considered myself to be “the weird kid” and “uncool,” I assumed that that was how everyone around me perceived me, but as I began to embrace the way I dressed, I stopped assuming people thought I was weird, and started realizing that nobody else cared how I dressed.
Now, I love dressing modestly, because it’s a reflection of who I am. And when I’m confident about who I am, I know that no one’s placing me in the “weird” category because of the way I dress, and most likely no one ever did.
That’s it for today folks.