When I was in my late teens, I wouldn’t leave the house (unless going swimming) without makeup. Concealer, foundation, powder, eye shadow, liner and mascara. Lip gloss at a minimum, liner and lipstick pretty often.
Add to that, legs shaved every second day. Moisturiser all over, lest someone see a dry patch of skin. Hair was long, but maybe with an undercut. Definitely coloured, if you were allowed.
After all that, it was headphones on and out the door. First, it was a Walkman loaded with a cassette full of stuff I’d taped off the radio. Triple J, of course. None of that poppy, Top 40 bullshit everyone else listened to. Had to be alternative- grunge or metal. Maybe hard rock. Certainly no Spice Girls or anything resembling the dreaded techno. A genre my kids have never heard of, by the way.
The clothes were important, too. Pants came from the army disposal store. Shoes were either Converse or Doc Martens. Tops invariably had a band on them or were strappy singlets. Cold? Put on that flanno tied around your waist, then! I had a certain image to maintain, you see. Or so I thought.
What’s it like now?
Kids these days are no different, although the styles might be. My 14 year old baby-goth told me just this afternoon that there was literally nothing good played on the radio. Far too mainstream for her image, I guess.
Not that long ago, I walked towards a girl at the airport, just before my 15 year old stepdaughter went on a school trip overseas. The girl turned toward me and it wasn’t my stepdaughter. Awkward! Yet, she was wearing what my stepdaughter customarily wears: black tights, fitted tee, sports hoodie and black sneakers with white soles. Her hair was brown, quite long and worn down. When I looked at the group altogether, they all seemed to be wearing the same outfits and style like an unconscious uniform.
Even my stepson, 13 tomorrow (hold me!), has an eye on trends. He likes cuffed jeans and trying to rap along to what’s on the radio. He actually cares about his hair.
When I think of being self-conscious, I remember what it was like to be younger. Worried that every outfit, opinion or action might be judged and found lacking. Someone might make fun of me and that would naturally lead to the end of the world. Catastrophic. Imagine living with that level of self-consciousness now? No, thanks!
Over the last few years, my own version of self-consciousness has changed. Now, I’m more conscious of what I actually like. I am far less interested in what other people think about the things I like, wear, listen to, read, watch or do. Perhaps it’s being a whisker away from 36, or maybe it’s because I stopped wasting my fucks on unimportant things from fear they’d run out? I don’t know.
I’m not the only one.
My bestie and I discussed it last night while putting together a roast dinner and drinking cans of beer. We decided it was our age. At 35 and a bit, for us anyway, we really just stopped caring. We made a decision to just let all that shit go.
For example, on a break at work one day, a friend remarked on my book. It was a Jodi Picoult paperback. She gave her opinion that Picoult wrote nothing but predictable trash, or something to that effect. I just smiled and suggested she not read it then. Teenage me would have hastily agreed and hidden the book to finish in secret. 30-something me picked it up and resumed reading because I fucking love Jodi Picoult’s stories.
These days, I will turn up the music and sing along, whether it’s Billie Holliday, Justin Beiber, Gaga or System of a Down. I feel like your mid-thirties is an excellent time to let go of your fear of judgment. Let it roll over you and away, if you do encounter it.
I wear what I feel good in. My hair is partly shaved off and mostly blue because, well, why the fuck not? Some days, I wear makeup but other days, I’m wearing just my own skin on my face, complete with laugh lines, and it’s nice to be comfortable in it.
#IBOT @ Capturing Life.
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