by Esther Elizabeth Suson
After deciding to go to a play at the University of Asia and the Pacific, my alma mater, my thoughts immediately turned to what I would wear. The importance of the clothing was so I could act courteously while my outfit kept its nose high in the air – showing me haughty even if I did not act it.
I decided to wear pink: pink for “Look I’m a girl” and pink for “Don’t you dare not notice me.” Paired with that would be dangling earrings, for “Yes I am a girl” and “See how girly I am.” Skinny jeans for the same reason, and then high-top boots for “Be nice to me, I can crush your toes with one step.”
A choker with a wing charm would say “I am a free spirit” and also “Rebellion.” And last, the finishing touch, a denim long-jacket that said something like, “Look how I ignore all conventions and invent my own trend.”
I was excited to wear it. Well, more the stomach-twisting emotion of someone with a new weapon (or toy), excited to try it out. ‘Excited’ to see reactions; ‘excited’ to impress. (Not that the outfit would be all that great – outfits rarely are, in reality. But the meaning was everything, and I meant so much by it).
In all the planning, I squashed down – as much as I could – my ulterior motive. Except, I knew I had one. When I dress up to be with my friends, I dress with more of a general happiness that I look pretty, and we all look pretty together. There is no malice in it because we simply love to dress up around one another.
And, at the end of the day, how we dress makes no difference at all to how much we love each other. For example, the wing charm on my choker, I wear around my friends because I know they will like it. That is the reason, and the only one. Which made my ulterior motive all the more pervasive in this case.
The worst part was, I did not even have to think to know the motive. I had very recently seen old friends, and had (to my egotistical, entitled self) been considered not worth noticing. Which is why the clothes I was planning to wear demanded attention.
Thankfully, I planned my outfit early enough that God and my rational self came to the rescue. These were the arguments they put to me:
- If I dress to demand attention, I will be allowing my emotional buttons to be pushed.
- I will be uncomfortable the whole night because my ulterior motive will make me upset if I am not noticed.
- Pink is a bright color and I might distract the performers.
After I persuaded my heart to give up its dream of crushing everyone in my path, I dressed for comfort on the day itself. My shirt was dark-blue instead of pink, a color I love for itself. I wore comfortable walking shoes, simple pearls in my ears, and a normal jacket-and-hood. The charm on my choker was a sun, which tends to mean “I am happy in my own skin.” (I still wore skinny jeans, because they went with the outfit).
All of which was good, because I only saw one person I knew from before. I was comfortable enough with that person, so I was happy I dressed for my own comfort.
The clothing I had been planning to wear was supposed to have been a wall, a barrier for protection. It would have said, “Get so distracted looking at me you do not get a chance to hurt me.” I would not even have been interested whether they talked to me or not. I would not have cared if they asked how I was, or what I was doing.
All I would have cared about was showing them I was doing absolutely fine on my own (with the assumption, of course, that they even cared. But then the egotists always assume others care). Of course the root was insecurity. I had felt ‘rejected’ by that earlier incident, so I was drawing on pride and bitterness as armor.
I like to dress up (now) as much as the next girl, but I must do it with a right heart. It is good to feel that check on my emotions: why do I feel like dressing this way? Who am I dressing for? My clothes are windows to my soul, no matter what I wear.