The main perks of working from home consist of never having to get dressed or go into the outside world unless you want to. For me, it has led to a rise both in my social anxiety and ridiculous wardrobe. In fact, the two have combined to the point where overdressing eases my anxiety and casual-wear is only sported when running to the shop or going to the doctor. It hasn't gotten so bad that I can't nip to the pub unless I'm in a full feathered gown, but I still have to have perfect hair, perfect makeup, a revealing outfit, a million rings on, and a fur coat in order to feel comfortable.
I've always liked having people look at me. As a kid, costume parties were my jam. As a teenager, I was one of the few goths in my small town. And as an adult, I want to be sure any attention put on me is that which I've brought upon myself. If I catch people's eye when I'm in my dressed-down clothes, I often assume they're thinking of me negatively. If I spot them staring when I'm dressed to the nines, however, it's obviously because I look so glamorous and so gorgeous that I stand out in the crowd.
Being OTT comes naturally to me. I have a dramatic personality, and although my ridiculousness has gotten me in trouble before, it's an aspect of myself that I adore. It's only right that this should be reflected in my clothing. I've never been interested in the casual or athleisure trends that have been the main focus of street style throughout the past couple of years — not only because I feel these trends exclude plus size women.
I find overdressing comforting because it's a representation of how I want to look. But for many plus size women, overdressing can feel like a necessity in order to look good. I've written about how minimalist fashion excludes plus size women from the conversation by tying into messaging of "not trying," or of "being generally lazy," not to mention by the lack of on-trend yet minimalistic options above a size 14. I personally feel blessed to not be interested in the style. If I were, I would likely lose my safety blanket completely. At least in my glitter and sequins, I can never be accused of "not trying" with my appearance.
But I still can't win, even when I'm dressing up. Instead of getting accused of "not making an effort," I'm usually accused of "trying too hard." Either way, I'm sinning. Either way, I'm failing at looking drop dead beautiful while also looking like I put no effort in at all.
But here's the thing: I want my efforts to be noticeable. I want all the money and time and work I've put into my makeup techniques and clothes-hunting to get attention. I do make an effort. I try damn hard to look good and I do look good. There's no shame in how artificial that beauty may be. What should be obvious from my style is that I find beauty in brash, trashy fake-ness.
Although looking dramatic, ridiculous, and fabulous fills me with the confidence I need to go to bars, go on dates, or hang out with mates, I build that confidence before I even leave the house. I may need it once outside — to justify people's glances as happening on my own terms — but the act of getting ready is a routine that both comforts and consoles me in the build-up to going outside.
In their essay "How My Beauty Routine Has Helped My Anxiety," Bustle's Meg Zulch perfectly described the confidence that fashion and beauty routines can give us. They detail the comfort that can come from not only wearing makeup, but buying it, organizing it, and applying it as well.
My plethora of beauty products, which greet me every morning whenever I rise to wash and tone my face, are undoubtedly a toolbox for anxiety reduction. By simply clutching onto my favorite lippie or spraying myself with my preferred fragrance, I can stop an exhausting, vicious cycle of fear and self doubt. Makeup tells me I am worth of my own love, and is no less than a fun distraction when I'm at the verge of a nervous breakdown.
I feel the same. Going through the steps of my makeup application, thinking up new outfit combinations while lying in bed, or having multiple rings to play with as I wait for the bus are calming to me. Not just because of the beauty they give me, but because of their consistency. My clothes will always be there, ready to wear, no matter how I'm feeling about myself. My makeup will always be there to hide behind: A mask between my fears and reality.
It may seem counterproductive to my body positivism or my feminism to use makeup and clothing as a crutch of sorts. However, not only can makeup and fashion be feminist, but we should be allowed to admit that we have safety blankets. People may dismiss me for placing such worth in material possessions, but whatever helps, helps. I'm going to own my chronic state of over-dress, and I'm going to own it while looking damn good.
Images: Georgina Jones