There’s this party coming up in a few weeks that I’m pretty excited about. Its a yearly, movable feast. Last year it was in Taranaki and this year it’s in Christchurch. A couple of hundred of women getting together to celebrate all that is good about women-ness and wellness. A bunch of women with a kaupapa of unconditional support and no judgement. A group of women that have each other’s backs unfailingly and are cheerleaders in all endeavours.
So if these women are so bloody wonderful then why am I driving myself insane worrying about what to wear?
Last year was the first time that I had gone to such a venture. I had to explain to my teenager why it was okay for me to travel to the bottom of the island to stay with a person that I had met on the internet.
“She seems lovely” She could be a man, mum.
“I’m pretty sure she’s not”. She could be a rapist mum.
Lessons in personal safety from the teenager. At least she has listened to something that I have said over the last few years.
With my flights sorted, and my accommodation with potential rapist arranged, I had all this time and little to fret about. So I ruminated, obsessively on WHAT TO WEAR.
It cost a freaking fortune. The dress was cheap enough but then there were two pairs of shoes bought, neither of which were worn on the day. The world’s most expensive bra was also require to go with the dress. It cost twice as much as the dress itself. Then there were two pairs of tights (unworn), a clutch bag, a necklace, nails and make up. Thank heavens for the locks or the hair would have come in to play too. All of this because I wanted to fit in so badly. To not stand out. To be like the others, even though I am a proud non-conformist, sometimes the desired to belong is too much and can only be assuaged by looking the right way.
Turning up at the party, it quickly became evident that all of that obsessing was a bit pointless. None of the fripperies were required for a good time. What was required was a cheesy playlist and a bunch of interesting women.
So 6 months out from this years party, after booking my flights, I decided that i wouldn’t put myself through the same drama this time. That I would wear the same dress (which hasn’t been out of the wardrobe since) and not wear myself out in the white water of doubt.
3 months out and I bought a new dress, It was cheap and fun and had heaps of room for dinner. I thought it would stop there. It didn’t. New dress meant new shoes. Bought two. Sold one. The other ones are too high and I can only reliably wear them from the bedroom to the lounge. This could mean getting to the bar might prove difficult (although this could be a bonus). The dress needed a jacket too, because I hate spaghetti straps and no amount of hair can cover them up. I’m spending time every evening thing about how my outfit isn’t right. That I’m not right. But why does it even matter?
How can I worry so much about how I present to a group of women that have pretty much pledged themselves to be non judgemental. Its hard to get to the bottom of it. This desire for approval. This is a group that prides itself on its body positivity yet here I am stressing about being too fat for the party, and looking crap in the photos.364 days of the year I don’t worry about such things. I can get changed in a car park. Cope with my skirt falling down in a super market, or going to a show covered in chocolate (this was yesterday. Still raw).
Mostly I’m not easily embarrassed or self conscious. But something about this party activates those hidden beliefs of not measuring up. That there will be 200 women that think…oh, she’s not nearly as strong, nice, smart, funny, pretty in real life. I have created this online persona that is better than the regular me with chocolate in my hair, and spinach in my teeth. And I think that if I just crack it with the outfit, then people won’t notice how fat, crass, tongue tied, and anxious I am.
But writing this helps me to realise that an outfit can’t do all these things. If I haven’t fixed it with therapy then I probably won’t fix it with the perfect pair of nude caged heels.
What will help is remembering how none of this even mattered.
When you’re singing The Gambler, late at night with a woman from the Naki.
When your phone is lost and you know that it will return as you are surrounded by 150 trustworthy people.
When you’re hoovering up the spare food with the Crossfit Coach, the frock doesn’t matter one bit.
Only the genuine connections made with genuine people who have already decided that you are good enough, and non-matching shoes aren’t going to change that opinion one bit.