Monthly Archives: April 2012

easter/lent recovery

Three weeks after Easter, I’m still trying to figure out how I feel about wearing color again. I had anticipated that it would be joyous and fun, that I would be thrilled to have style again. After 40 days of black T-shirts, I planned an explosion of color: a skirt of bright blues paired with a teal T under a royal violet cardigan and finished with a sunflower belt.

While walking to class I began to wonder if perhaps it was too bright — I kept noticing people’s eyes pausing over me as I walked by them. At school, many classmates complimented my loud look, but all I felt was discomfort. I hadn’t planned for feeling so exposed, hadn’t realized I had developed a heightened awareness of the gaze of otehrs. After wearing clothes that go unnoticed for weeks, the sudden attention and eyes on my body felt intrusive.

The next day I wore soft neutrals, hoping to dull the effect. People still noticed and commented. Although the colors were softer, the feeling of exposure, of clothes not being enough, took up residence in every cell of my being. I began to realize that this is something we often do to one another: we look at bodies and clothing, evaluating the other’s tastes and style, gleaning what we can about the other’s self from the items they put over their skin. On some level, we believe we know one another through appearance.

At home I find myself living in black yoga pants and a black shirt. Even going out, it’s mostly jeans and a basic T. In starting this experiment, I had thought that it would rejuvenate my appreciation of fashion and kindle my desire to enjoy being in my body. Instead, I find myself trying to hide, a growing modesty of appearance. Permanent black T-shirts is starting to sound like a viable option.

lent iv

It’s Holy Week, the last week of Lent. I’m still wearing black Tshirts, no makeup, no jewelry. Although Sundays have turned into colorful feast days, I haven’t diverged from my uniform during the week with the exception of the occasional streak of black eyeliner over each lashline.

image: jcrew.com

In some ways, it’s been much easier than I anticipated. The only moment of temptation is when I get dressed to go out; it’s not an ever-present need. At most, I feel the limitation twice a day: getting dressed in the morning, and getting ready for any social functions or events that Keller and I go to in the evening. For the former, the lenten uniform is a relief from the high-adorableness-factor fashion at school. For the latter, it is only a deep moment of longing to wear layers of color and a range of textures, followed by a moment of pressure to simultaneously blend in with the crowd’s level of formality while standing out in my choice’s unique pieces or combination. I quickly scramble for a black T, once again relieved.

At the start of this season, I had hoped that the practice would aid me in, if not loving my body, at least ceasing to loathe it. I won’t say I’ve entirely stopped the negative thoughts, but I rely less on the image in the mirror. I feel the weight in my body, and it doesn’t feel entirely healthy. And I think that’s ok to feel: it encourages me to make healthy changes, rather than attempt to motivate myself using self-hate. I’m eating a lot more vegetables, and drinking more water. I’m running, lifting weights, practicing krav maga. My muscles are vaguely sore, and the ache feels gloriously physical in ways I had forgotten.

Which is a revelation and reminder I hadn’t planned on being gifted: God took on human flesh. This is what it feels like.