Friday, June 5, 2015

I am Me, I am not She

Mary Sullivan

That title sounds like something from Dr. Seuss, doesn't it? LOL

A couple of things happened recently that had me wondering why we feel the need to change those around us. Why can't we allow others to express themselves in their own unique ways—to just be who they are?

Why should we all have to look alike?

Recently, I was at a party having a wonderful time chatting with a bunch of female friends and acquaintances when another woman showed up wearing a fabulous big chunky necklace. We all complimented her on it. One of the group who also wears larger jewellery said something like, "Chunky is the trend right now," and then, to my shock, shot a very pointed look at my neck and the necklace I wore, a single pearl dressed up with tiny diamonds on a delicate silver chain. Her meaning was clear, that I'm way out of the current fashion loop.

My response is, So what? It's a pretty necklace that has sentimental value for me. It also suits me to a T. I look terrible in big chunky jewellery, as though I'm trying to imitate someone else…or I'm playing dress up in my mother's clothes.

The chunky necklace suited the woman who was wearing it perfectly, but would have looked dreadful on me.

I dress nicely when I go out and am always presentable. So, why single me out because of the type of necklace I choose to wear? Very strange.

The other thing…I have a sister who is one year older than me and was charged with taking care of me when we were children, i.e. we walked to school together and she would hold my hand when we crossed the street. She did an admirable job until I was old enough to take care of my myself.

In some ways, though, she never stopped trying to take care of me and sometimes still gets bossy all of these decades later. Anyway, I wear minimal make up when I go out on any given day. I'm lucky to slap on some lipstick if I'm rushing out the door to pick up something for dinner.

When I'm involved in professional business, though, I use everything…but tastefully, for the same reason as the jewellery. If I slather on makeup too heavily, I look like I'm playing dress up. I look like I'm trying to be someone I'm not.

As it is, when I wear my version of what looks good on me, I look a tiny bit younger and I look professional. Isn't that enough? What more do I need really?

Guess who thinks I should be wearing a lot more? You guessed it. The older sister.

I've always been natural. What you see is what you get. Why be someone else when I can be me?

So what is it that these other women want? A validation that their style is best? Is imitation really the ultimate form of flattery? Would these women really want everyone around them to look like them? If we all dressed the same wouldn't they then resent that they no longer looked unique?

I'm not sure what their motivations are.

Have you ever had these kinds of incidents happen to you? What did you think motivated the people who were trying to change you?


JanetLee said...

Great post! I don't have an answer though. I'm also a very natural look (read: no to absolute minimal make up). Metal gives my skin a very unstylish rash, so minimal jewelry and the only time I wear "business clothes" is at conferences. So when I do dress up, put on make up and wear jewelry, I don't feel like me.

Maybe when other women see me, they feel like they wouldn't feel like themselves if they looked like me? (There's a Seuss sentence for you!)

But I will say this. I have never encountered this at a romance conference. Reader, writer, editor, agent. We all are just who we are. Which is another reason why I love you all so much!

mary sullivan said...

Janet, I have to agree with you about romance conferences! They are really wonderful. The reader-author connection is truly special and energizing. It does feel like women are free to be themselves!!!

Unknown said...

Great post, Mary! I've had similar issues but on the other side of the fence. People in the past have told me that I should wear less makeup because I 'don't need it'. Funny thing is, I don't wear it because I think I need it. I'm a trained makeup artist, it's a creative outlet for me. I wear it because I like applying it, I like the colours and different looks I can create.

I don't know why women (and men!) do this to one another. Isn't it great that we're all different and beautiful in our own way?

My little sis is like you, she doesn't wear much makeup at all. But she looks gorgeous with and without it - so I say go with whatever makes you feel best. :)

mary sullivan said...

Stefanie, I love your makeup and think it suits you perfectly! You always look gorgeous. I understand how it can be a great creative outlet.

I'm not sure why people say or do these things, either. I think it's best to ignore them and go on being our own best, different, beautiful selves :-)

dstoutholcomb said...

Trends come and go, classic pieces stay in style forever.

mary sullivan said...

dstoutholcomb, yes! I agree!

Laurie said...

I have my own unique style and sometimes I can tell by others comments that they'd like to see me in a more trendy fashion, but I prefer comfort and I dress in a way that reflects my personality. In other words, I don't fuss to impress others. Someone I know remarked once that they hardly ever see me in high heeled shoes. That's because high heeled shoes hurt my feet and I refuse to wear them on a consistent basis just to look cute. I also like wearing pearls and dainty bracelets and necklaces, lacy wraps and things like that. Regardless of what anyone thinks or says, this is me and I'm sticking with it. And to you, stay natural, you look great!!

mary sullivan said...

Laurie, it sounds like your style is perfect for you! Good for you for sticking with what works despite pressure from others! Thank you for your lovely compliment :-)

Mary Preston said...

I have had women look me up & down and then make a remark. Generally in my direction, but not to me. I really couldn't care less. At least not these days. I may have felt the sting in my younger days, but now it just amuses me.

mary sullivan said...

Mary, these kinds of things used to hurt me when I was younger, too. Times have changed. Now, as I said in my blog post, I think, So what??? These days, I feel free to be me! LOL

Olivia Loch said...

One day my daughter was going to dinner at her new boyfriend's house, meeting his parents for the first time. She came into the kitchen looking great but wearing two brightly coloured/patterned, but very different, socks. I asked her if she had a matching pair, or if she need to borrow a pair of mine for dinner. She looked at me and said, "You know, I thought about changing my socks but then I realized, this is me so what would be the point." We had a good laugh because she was exactly right. I was actually blown away, realized what I was doing was wrong, and stopped correcting.

mary sullivan said...

Olivia, what a great story! Your daughter is so right! Thanks for sharing :-)

Tricia G. said...

Mary, you look wonderful and beautiful exactly as you are!

As someone who wears zero makeup, zero jewelry, and gets a haircut twice a year (and never one that I need to style), I find it interesting that no one has ever suggested in any way that I do anything different. I've decided either that a)I look so bad, they've decided there's absolutely no hope for me at all, b)I look as though I don't care, so they decide there's no point in trying to offer suggestions, or c)I'm totally clueless and have just never noticed their comments or stares!

Not sure which it is, but my theory is that if I can manage to squeeze an extra 30 minutes out of my day, I can find tons of fun things to do with that time, none of which involve clothing, makeup, jewelry, or hair. :)

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