Thursday, 18 March 2010

Social misfit - Part 1

I’ve always been a bit of a social misfit in one way or another but certainly when it comes to appearance. I think this particular misfit calling started with the pink National Health Specs given to me at age four in an attempt to sort out my astigmatism and lazy eye. Oh and the eye patches. They made me stand out a bit. Not the pizazz type standing out. I would also regularly break my glasses (probably passive aggressive ‘accidents’) and often they were held together by a plaster. It wasn't a look that overly helped me to fit in.

Then there was my mother’s insistence on cutting my fringe a) wonky and b) half way up my (alien bone down the middle) forehead. I know everyone has those tatty old photos with examples of mother’s coiffure love but my barely-a-fringe came with me into adolescence – which also added some greasy lankness which tended to stick it down flat. Not a great foundation to launch a lifetime's relationship with hair styling.

I also suffered from tooth overcrowding in the mouth. Until some teeth were removed and braces realigned those that remained, my face was a bit mouth heavy.

It was a good that I had personality.

But even after the face was 'remedied', I never managed to be a proper girl. Several, at various points in my life, attempted to entice me into the ‘making the best of yourself club’ by showing me how much better I looked if I had my hair cut, flicked my fringe, recognised that what I was wearing was a decade out of date and wiped the mud off my face – for example. But it never stayed with me. I really, really was never interested.

I was truly more into climbing trees, making mischief and building dens and ‘nice’ clothing, makeup and styled hair would always be wasted on me. Still would be – it’s different mischief now but dressing well would certainly inhibit it.

The point in my life when I probably took most care over my appearance was a ‘gothic’ phase in early adulthood. I had purple hair for a while but the main rule to abide by was that clothing had to be black. I guess that made things quite easy for me. A self-imposed uniform with no colour coordination concerns. I had nearly got wind of the whole colour coordination (and you don’t wear three patterns together) thing by this stage. This phase did pass though.

Then, years of, frankly, wearing other people’s hand-me-downs (often with holes) later, there was that programme: ‘What not to wear.’ I am not sure how many times I had to suffer the teaching assistants’ excitement at the idea of sending me on it to save me from myself.
‘Surely I was sad that I never dressed well? Surely I really wanted to look good but just did not know how to?’ they’d bleat again and again to me. But I would insist,
‘no I really don’t care.’ And I’d continued wearing my tracky bottoms. (One time I dressed up to show them I could – and it shut them up for a whole week.)

Now don’t get me wrong. This does not mean I don’t have preferences. If you showed me two outfits and asked me which I would prefer to wear – I’d give you an answer. And I can do a reasonable job, now, of looking smart for work although taming my hair and face and trying to leave the house crease, grease and smudge free is not my favourite bit of the day. And I can really admire someone who dresses well. I love looking at those women (and sometimes men) with their colour co-ordinated jewellery, smart clothes and shoes and stuff. It’s an art form.

Point is though - it might be selfish - but I don’t have to look at me do I?


  1. You're fine it's not selfish, My only concession to anything remotely expensive/flashy is my watch, apart from that, It's Jeans t-shirts, hoodies and workboots. comfort first.

  2. You do dye your eyelashes. However, the glamour of this is counteracted by your insistence on wearing Dickensian shoes.

    Oh, and I still think you should get a Lady Diana.

  3. I had to learn the language of clothes for work.

    Nowadays I'm nearly cured: I have three styles of jeans: going-out-in jeans, which when they become antisocial turn into gardening jeans, and when they're not fit to wear outside where people might see, they become painting jeans.

  4. LOL...I have never fitted in either and I'm rather proud of that fact!! I do find myself looking at some of the women on the tube when I'm going to work/uni and I find myself peering at them in a 'how on earth do they manage to look so well groomed' kind of way. It's all just far too high maintenance..I just can't be is too short and I kind of like my dragged through a hedge backwards look!!

    C x

  5. There is a good deal of charm to a lady wot wears a patched zip up sweater jacket, cargo gauchos?, and 'Wizard Of Oz' socks all in (somewhat) mismatched shades, yet has the confidence to make it look good.

    You have a 'wheel of clothing articles' that you spin, don't you?

  6. I think you're beautiful ;)

    best wishes

  7. Hey Eric, I love the idea of a spinning "wheel of clothing"! What an excellent way to start the day.....

  8. Oh, just to let you know....I have blogged about Emic and Etic perspectives as promised :-)

    C x

  9. The pink glasses...the ones with the bendy metal ear bits, patch and plaster describes me to a tee. You were posh If you had a brace. I never had a brace...what's the point if you were in fear of having your teeth knocked out?

    Best jeans to work jeans to painting jeans to cut-off jeans with dangling threads. Weekends force me into suits...well, Sunday at least.

    I've been renovating a French property for about eight years...same clothes. I dress in weird things when I'm allowed to at work...bandages (got very hot) and oriental bits. I even wore stripy tights but brighter colours than yours. Last year I wore a SAFC shirt which caused a stir. Yes, I said. It IS a football team.

    You look every bit the rebel Molly P. I notice the labels not visible but on show...'Don't mess with me!'

  10. wore bandages??!!

  11. Mr T – I have earrings. I love dangly earrings. That’s my flashy bit, except I hate gold...must be silver. I bought a relatively expensive duffel coat with my first pay packet from teaching. Decadence I have not seen in myself the like of since.

    James - I think you’ll find I am regularly Dickensian from the knee down. I have left the Lady Di look that you bullied me into - twice – well and truly behind.

    Codgi – hippy.

    Carol – For ages – I didn’t even notice that I wasn’t exactly fitting in. Then when I started to notice I wanted to stop telling me how I should be. Celebrate diversity!!! I am now very comfortable in my own skin....I guess the ‘like me or lump me’ thing asserts itself better with age.

    Eric – why thank you. I have other looks too....that example looks quite ‘together’. Perhaps I dressed up for the camera. I love my patched sleeved cardigan. Someone once asked if it was designer! The patches hide the holes made by a spitting fire.
    Yes I have a wheel of clothing – without the wheel – it’s called least observant person in the world doesn’t really notice what or how she’s putting anything on – especially first thing in the morning.

    Ribbon – very kind of you. Thank you.

    Codgi – perhaps i should make such a wheel and it will be blogged about of course.

    Carol – I’ll be over at your place to have a read in a mo. I delivered diversity training to a junior headteachers’ conference today – it’s fascinating eliciting different people’s perspectives.

    Ken D – They gave me the curved metal ear bits once but I complained that they hurt my ear lobes – so I was given ‘normal’ ear hooks at about 6 – which of course came off more easily and therefore needed more plasters.

    I am posh. Really posh. Isn’t it obvious?!
    And I wouldn’t mess with me either.

    No – probably not called posh that often but I appreciate it’s all relative. Someone saw fit to fix my tooth heavy face. And I am a big softy really......really soft! Barks and bites and all that!

    Clearly you’re very special in a nutty way Ken D.

    FF – ah thank you. Again.

    Ahh I’m feeling all loved up again!

  12. James...I was Mummy for the day and then hitched a lift home for a laugh.

    Molly P soft! Ok I'll take your word for it...for now.

  13. Are you of Mackem origins then Ken? I'm a Sanddancer meself!


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