We had our first week with residents at the shelter where we work, and it was a lot of fun. The women have exceeded my expectations, and I've enjoyed the community of serving them this week. I still don't know what my place is or how to make myself useful, but I'm trying not to worry about that too much, and just meet needs as I see them.
Last week, or maybe the week before, the button popped off of my jeans, as I was wearing them. I also had company at the time, so it was a little embarrassing. The reason my button popped off was that I was using a rubber band to hold it closed. Christmas shrunk my pants a little. Fortunately, I was at home and was able to change into my other pair of jeans.
My only other pair of jeans.
It's not that we don't have money to buy clothes. I mean, money doesn't abound in these parts, but we have enough to keep clothes on our backs. We even have about $100 in gift cards to a clothing store, which we've had for over 6 months now.
I just don't like shopping for clothes. I've tried to analyze myself on this several times, to no avail. At one point, I was sure it was about insecurity and, to a point, it was and is. I'm a human after all. I confess to crying at my post-baby reflection in a dressing room once, but me and my body are much better friends now.
Today, I finally made myself take that gift card and go buy myself some jeans. It was brutal. I was so cranky. I did get some jeans, though, and I'm thankful now to have them. I think I may have worn those other ones 6 out of seven days this past week.
I think there are two things that get to me. First of all, there was a time when I spent a lot of time and money shopping for clothes, cosmetics, and accessories. I thought it was normal, and I think it is for most people. Nowadays, there are so many reasons why I limit my spending in that area, but I still can't help but miss it sometimes. The new, unfaded shirts. The good smelling lotions and face-stuff that makes outlandish promises. The sparklies, new purses, and shoes without scuffs. There is a part of me that will never fully believe that you can be good enough without these things. Like nice clothes will prove that I've got my act together, and the things that I currently have tell people that there's something that's just not right. Most of me knows that none of this is true, and that all that slick advertising and airbrushing in the mall is a pack of lies. That little piece inside of me flares up sometimes, though.
The other things that gets to me, and argues with that materialistic, image hungry side, is the bigger part of me. The one that knows what really makes me happy, and it's not a bag full of new things that won't be new much longer. When I spend more than a short time in a department store, I start to see some very sad things. I see clothes marked "made in Bangladesh" and I know the reputation of the textile factories there. I see all of the resources spent making things that people don't need, and then all of the energy spent trying to convince us that we do need them.
I see a culture that is self medicating, striving, and bleeding to be enough, all the while lonely for a truth that will set them free - it's not about being, having, or looking like you've got your act together. You never have enough until you decide it once and for all.
Of course, I understand that clothing stores are necessary, and I'm sure as heck not going to start sewing my own wardrobe. Sometimes, you just gotta go buy some jeans. I just need to get over myself and go shopping. Also, I'm not denying a person's desire to feel beautiful or handsome, I think that is a true need that we all have. One that I tend to deny in myself, but it's there nonetheless.
However, I also know what the average American's closet looks like, and how much time the average woman puts into her looks each year, when you factor in shopping, dressing, hairstyling, makeup, and the like. I know the toll that all this excess is taking on the environment and how our desire for lots of cheap clothes keeps the sweatshops churning out goods year after year. I can't help but see it all as a prison on so many levels.
If we could just bring it all down to a reasonable level, be aware of the waste and recognize our own brand of beauty. If we could always keep in mind that this world only has so much to go around, and every bit we use for ourselves is kept from someone else. Not so we could go without everything, but just give up our excess, in order that all may have enough.
Also, I usually reward myself for making it through a shopping trip with a cookie, and I'm sugar fasting this month. That could have something to do with the crankiness...