... how it is that blogging has given me some much-needed confidence, and the nature of self-esteem.
You may leave now, if that sounds too dreary for you to bother with, I won't be offended!
If anyone had said to me 6 months ago that I would be posting photos of myself on the Internet, frequently looking daft, I would not have believed them. So what on earth happened? And why?
A love of vintage clothing is obviously the hook on which I hang my blog, and there is something amazingly confidence-boosting about finding a like-minded group of people who appreciate quirky and individual style. I suppose it's a way of finding your tribe, your gang, which is supportive and protective of you. After many years of feeling that I never look right somehow - not pretty enough, not thin enough, over/underdressed, not cool, blah blah blah - I have found that by completely eschewing current trends in fashion, I am released from all that worry and self-consciousness. It's counterintuitive, but by dressing in a way that undoubtedly attracts attention (oh the side-eye...), I am so much less concerned about that attention, or others' opinions.
I think it must be a control thing. If I take the photo, if I pull the silly face, or choose the weird frock, that's up to me. I make the decision to publish it. It is an interesting phenomenon, the fact that lots of bloggers admit to anxieties about how they look, they don't think they are the most beautiful women in the world, but they obviously gain confidence from publicly saying, "this is me, and I look pretty good!" And this is irrespective of size, age, style, or the cost of their clothes. I like this about blogging, it's open to all.
So I had been thinking about all this stuff, when I overheard Youngest LB and her dad having a conversation whilst in the bathroom applying her creams.
For those who don't know, Youngest Child has a rare skin condition* which makes her skin extremely dry, scaly and fragile. It's noticeable on some areas of her body more than others, but all her flexures are particularly affected, including her hands which are obviously always on show. Naturally, she has encountered some negativity from other children about her skin and the fact that she looks different, and we talk with her often about this issue, trying to help her find responses to others' reactions.
Other Half thinks we should just encourage her to tell them to fuck off. While I admire his gung-ho direct approach (and she may need it in the future) she is only 6, so maybe that won't play too well at school...
But back to my eavesdropping.
OH and Youngest LB were talking about her skin being different, and the fact that there are many ways in which people can look different from each other. This lead them on to discussing whether appearance mattered. LB said that some people might not want to be her friend because of her skin; OH agreed that was true, but added that anyone who used someone's appearance (or disability) as a reason not to like another person, probably wasn't worth being friends with anyway. LB agreed. OH said that you can't make people like you. LB agreed. OH said "I like you. Because you're interesting, and funny, and clever, and I like how you think about things." LB said "And I look nice too." OH agreed.
So this self-esteem thing... it's complicated. Youngest LB wants to be loved for her personality. But she likes to be reassured that she looks nice too. Of course what's on the inside matters most. But we can't deny the impact of the external, our appearance matters too. Of course we want to be appreciated for our intelligence, our wit and warmth, our humour and our kindness. But aren't we also delighted when someone tells us we look good?
Which is pretty much where I came in - the confidence-building, morale-boosting, frock-lovin', vintage craziness-appreciating, endlessly kind and supportive world of the Ladies Who Blog.
Youngest LB and I salute you. xxxxxxx
PS. Normal service will be resumed in the next post. I just needed to get that off my chest!
*Bullous Ichthyosiform Erythroderma, in case you're wondering. (And no, she won't grow out of it. That's often the next question!)