Pretty grand title, huh? Well, it’s true; I’m a different person than I was when I started this blog, ten years ago. I’ve changed in lots of the little ways you’d expect: I’m more conscious of trends, I visit thrift stores more often, I dress more creatively and I shop more than before WIW2D. The biggest change I’ve seen, though, has been in my attitude towards others’ dress. I’m much more accepting of other people’s style choices than I used to be.
I used to delight in the criticism of other people’s clothing. My favorite part of What Not to Wear was the snarky comments Stacy and Clinton made about the “before” wardrobe. In the checkout line, I’d flip directly to the back of Glamour magazine and the infamous “black bar” page. Next, I’d grab a tabloid off the rack and see what witty things the rag had to say about badly dressed celebrities. Throughout the day, I’d note what other people were wearing and I’d think: too tight, too short, too loud, too tacky, too sloppy, too wild. I constantly judged what others were wearing and usually found them lacking.
There’s nothing like living in a glass house to teach one not to throw rocks.
The nasty comments started in the forums. I’d notice traffic coming to my blog from a message board and check out the thread. For every nice comment (if there were any!), I’d find ten hurtful remarks. Then, “anonymous” started leaving cruel comments directly on my blog. I was cut to the quick. Each unkind remark left me with a hollow feeling in my chest, a hitch in my throat, and a buzzing in my head. I’m not confrontational, so I did not engage the commenters, but I was busily justifying myself in my head and venting to my friends. I felt victimized and misunderstood. I contemplated giving up the blog on more than one occasion.
One day, it all just clicked and I realized that every time I judged others harshly, I was behaving exactly like the trolls. Even if my thoughts were left unshared, I was ashamed to be associated with them. I changed my attitude.
Instead of curling my lip in disgust at a woman’s outfit, I’d imagine what the offender was thinking when she got dressed. Was she in a hurry to get her child off to school? Does she dress to identify herself with a particular subculture? Is she expressing her mood with her dress? I also found things to admire in outfits that I would have previously snubbed. What a great pair of shoes! Look how she picked up that particular shade of green in multiple places. And, the number one attitude-changer of all, I admire her confidence!
Confidence is just what I gained from this exercise. As I accepted others around me and their fashion choices, I became bolder with my own. The new confidence inspired me to wear what I want, without worrying about whether it “went” or was too dressy or impractical. I adopted a more carefree attitude about my appearance. Why not take a risk today? I can play it safe tomorrow. Fuck the detractors. They only WISH they had the courage to try this.
There are always going to be nasty people in the world and they are probably always going to say nasty things, but I feel better in knowing that there is one less. I admit, the world would be a boring place if we were all winners and no one was better than anyone else (a la Harrison Bergeron), but maybe we could all cut each other some slack when it comes to style. There are so many ways we can express ourselves through our clothing. I’d like nothing better than to watch the parade go by and appreciate your choices.
This post is an updated version of How This Blog Has Changed My Life, originally published 3/24/2010 at whatiwore2day.blogspot.com. I still need to remind myself, even more than six years later, to be kind, empathetic, and understanding.