Monday 2 January 2012

So I'm pondering...

... 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!)


Krista said...

I couldn't agree more about how wonderful it is to have a sisterhood in blogland, I tell my husband, your off the hook my Blogger girls can tell me how good I look. We really are encouraging each other to just be ourselves...FINALLY!
I found that conversation interesting too. I'm sorry to hear about LB's skin condition, if being young isn't difficult as it is, that certainly adds another layer of complexity. I remember as early as 5th grade hating myself, I had red hair and what boy would ever want me. I swear it lasted until I started dying my hair every color of the rainbow and then I realized it really didn't matter what color my hair was, some would love it others would hate it all that really mattered was I liked it. It breaks my heart to think how cruel kids can be to one another, but I bet your LB is going to one tough, smart and beautiful woman one day, after all look at her Mama!

Vintage Sweetheart said...

What a lovely post! I agree with you completely, blogging has definitely boosted my confidence. I still have trouble believing compliments based on my looks but being apart of a community that loves dressing how ever they feel like is giving me the confidence to dress how I want. Side eye be damned! That conversation between your Hubby and your daughter was very sweet and honest.


karensomethingorother said...

I tell my daughter that she is beautiful ALL THE TIME. I also tell her she is smart and funny and awesome. I have no problem telling her she's beautiful, because if I tell her enough, it will become an armor to her that nobody will be able to pierce through. And that's what matters--how we feel about ourselves, and since we're creatures with eyeballs, we can't entirely get away from what pleases our vision, colours, contours, etc.

And you know, the older I get, the more 'fuck it, I'm fine with me,' I get, and darn it, that's refreshing.

which is not to say I don't feel hideous some days :)

You're awesome Curtise, and anyone who has their own style, be it with clothes or the attitude under the clothes is wonderful.

Vix said...

Brilliant words, Curtise. After having you as a blog friend for ages I can't tell you how delighted I was when you started blogging and have seen your confidence increase with each post.

As a child I was skinny, had eczema so badly I wore bandages and gloves most of the time, walked with a limp and had braces and was a prime target for being singled out, funnily enough it didn't really get to me as I knew I was loved.

Mum wasn't one to mince her words, she said I'd never be conventionally beautiful or crowned Miss World but I could make myself attractive by dressing imaginatively and creatively. They might not have been the softest thing to say but it was honest and it worked. I've never had any illusions of being a supermodel but it certainly stopped me comparing myself to anyone else which is when insecurity sets in.

To be honest I've never noticed anyone giving me funny looks, I've dressed the way I do forever and despite living in the town that style forgot I'm always complimented by the most unlikely looking folk. Maybe I do get side -eyed but I think I look okay and I suppose that kind of (misplaced?) confidence means I'm oblivious to negativity.

Blimey, bit of a long reply.
Keep up the good work, you are a fantastic parent, a great friend and a stylish and rocking blogger.

Vintage Coconut said...

Well I think little LB looks nice!!

The conversation you over heard sounds quite sweet. Kids are so smartand they understand so much more than alot of people give them credit for.

I agree we all want to look nice.
(Even outrageous or intriguing will do.)

I don't think we would be happy if people said we look like slime though. *lol*

Unknown said...

Ooh I just want to give you and LB the biggest hugs ever for being so fabulous and wonderful! And a standing ovation (complete with boob flash!) for you Curtise - I was SO happy when you started blogging as you are not only a gorgeous, stylish, vintage loving super-fox, but you are also perceptive, clever, hilarious, a wonderful observer of the human condition and a brilliant writer. THANK YOU for this wonderful post. You rock the frickin kasbah.

Love! Sarah xxx

Miss Simmonds Says said...

inspirational! recently been introduced to the vintage blogging world x

Loo xx from Jumbles and Pompoms said...

Hi Curtise (happy new year btw). Well said, missus. My daughter has a birthmark on her face which she is having treatment for but we have constantly been supportive and positive about it. I do worry about teasing and bullying but so far, there has been very little of it and she has a wide set of good friends both in and out of school. She also has her own quirky sense of style, which I adore and encourage (a mish mash of colours verging on the clashing - I love it!).

As for the side eye stuff, I secretly quite like it on those occasions that I wear a bit of leopard or brightly coloured tights at the school gates (I'm a complete dullard usually when it comes to clothes these days, I'm sorry to say!). Helga's so right when she says it's better to be looked over than over looked, n'est pas?

Anyway, that's my two pennies worth. Love your blog. Looking forward to reading more of you in 2012. xxxxx

Kylie said...

We all know it's what's on the inside that counts, but at the same time when we think we look good we feel good and that affects the way others react and interact with us.

I have never been able to conquer my insecurities regarding how I look so I take my hat off to you Curtsie for dressing the way YOU want to and carrying it off with aplomb.

I'd also like to give you and your husband a pat on the back for encouraging such a positive attitude in your gorgeous youngest daughter. I know she'll be fine...thanks to you and to her own tenacity and loveliness, which comes across clearly in her conversation with her dad that you shared with us.


Anonymous said...

People can be beautiful inside and out. Sure there can be crude people out there but if your daughter feels the love then she can be so happy! :) Like Christina Aguilera (urgh!) once said, "we are beautiful, no matter what they say"!

Great Post!

Nelly said...

What a lovely thing to overhear and what a wise daddy and little girl you have.Thanks for sharing this lovely story xxx

Unknown said...

Hi lovely Curtise,

Poor little thing, it is not easy to be stigmatize because you look different - i know in high school i was look upon as a genuine nerd and plus i had braces in the 70's, -I was the only kid in school with braces, so i got the name calling and all - She will grow up and become a beautiful, interesting person for sure - you are a wonderful parent Curtise! My parents were not supportive or adequate at all, i had to find my inner strenght.

Keep on showing us your beautiful self! We all love it!

Ariane xxxxx

lucy joy said...

I love this post Curtise, so glad you shared it.
Self-image is such a big thing to contend with in life, no matter who you are.
I don't dress how I'd REALLY like to, and I want that to change. I'm hiding behind this veil of convention and I do not know why. I had such confidence in my teens. I was the girl who wore a 1960's petticoat and a thermal vest to a school party.
Blogging has led to discovering people I admire so much; you and all the people who comment here.
Your daughter will be confident and stylish, just like you, because of you and your husband.

Rose&Bird said...

Curtise, I don't quite know how to put into words what I want to say, but I agree with everything everyone has said here. Children seem to be remarkably resillient and with such a wise dad and confident mum I'm sure your daughter will be absolutely fine, wish her the best!
I really want to build my confidence and wear what I want and not care what anyone else thinks - bloggers are the best for confidence-boosting x

Unknown said...

Curtise, to answer your question- yes Leo is still in the basement, we put a screen in the basement door so both cats can smell each other and get use to each other, but i am telling you, it is a slow process...

Unknown said...

Oh sweetie, what a heartfelt post. Its always so hard growing up i don't think confidence really comes to us until we hit our late 30's when we really start to find ourselves and who we really are. We find out what really matters in life and whats important. Being different is hard but standing out from the crowd and being yourself and an individual to me is a great gift to yourself and you should be very proud because it means you have grown as a person and with that comes contentment and not everybody achieves that which is why half the time people take the micky etc because they are jeolous. Its great to have you in blogland and see your confidence grow you are shinning like a bright star ;-))Big hugs to you and your girls, dee xx

two squirrels said...

Curtise, I have read this post many times over the past few days. It has really made me think about the journey we find ourselves on. I am with you on all of the things you have said.
For many years I wore the uniform of existence, the one that is given to you when have know idea who you are or what you are doing in the world.
I have burnt that uniform, it was a bad bad fit!!!!
Thank you, thank you for your words.
Poppet will be fabulous with a mum and dad who SEE her!
Love vanessa

Robert Barnsley said...

Well you've always been a style queen to me Curtis, even in the darkest days of working life. Or maybe that should be queen of style. Rob x

Lakota [Faith Hope and Charity Shopping] said...

Oh I hate coming to posts like these late. It's always so hard to know what to say when everyone else has already said everything you feel. I have a 6 year old, he has eczema badly enough that I don't let him do school swimming lessons (they won't let me be there to do creaming, and he can't really do it himself), but in general it's not in places that show. A condition like LB's must be far harder. But she IS beautiful, I've seen the pictures and they're both gorgeous, like their mum.

I had a feeling you'd blossom once you started your own blog.


Forest City Fashionista said...

I just found your blog through Desiree's, and wanted to say how much I loved this post. Blogging has boosted my confidence level tenfold, and I feel like I have just become more myself since I started posting photos of my own outfits. I have found some truly phenomenal women out there in the blogosphere, who are creative, smart, funny, and have their own deliciously unique and wonderful style (Vix, Desiree, Sarah Misfit, Idiosyncratic Fashionistas, etc.) and as you said so succinctly, I do feel like I have found my tribe, so to speak. Your daughter is lovely, by the way. Greetings from London, Ontario, Canada!