Finding your own sense of style

Alicia's approach to life had long centered around her need to be accessible. She resembled an overgrown college student, only ever to be found in jeans, ill-fitting Gap jeans coupled with various types of shapeless Gap T-shirts. She shopped hastily and inexpensively, prefering solid colors in jewel tones: colors she'd worn since she was a teenager. Then suddenly at the age of forty, Alicia fell in love. Falling in love was such a bizarre experience. It was no longer just her looking in the mirror wondering why she wasn't fitter and more toned. Alicia's boyfriend saw things in her she'd never ever seen before, in all the years of clinically checking for backfat and a thickening abdomen.

He told her she had charm, a softness, that she could be feminine, that making eye contact with her had always been something unique. He himself was stunning, strong, tall, blonde-haired but also gentle, nurturing, protective and unafraid to reach into her world and tell her warmly and generously what being around her made him feel.

She'd never met anyone like him: someone who loved and nurtured her back, seemed to write everyday, engaged with her mind, her passions, her hopes, her moments of sorrow and rejection, her need to be desirable and her need to transcend who she'd always been and find a love that would allow them both to build something that would outlast them both. Alicia felt like a new person and her body changed and with his comments and encouragement she evolved, emphasizing what he seemed to see and shedding other qualities that seemed so outdated in this new time of love and renewal.

They both imagined themselves as a couple: how they'd look together walking into a party and they shared these dream-like images with each other. Alicia picked prettier clothes that she could wear safely and without too much attention being directed towards her, given that she would now have a man by her side: someone who she could define herself in opposition to. She paid more attention to detail effortlessly and now wore jewelery almost everyday. And slowly a personal sense of self and one's own contribution to order and beauty seemed easier to muster.

It was more than having an audience, she had found someone who seemed to look only at her and seemed to make plans with her alone. She found a private, quieter more reclusive self who only really wanted to look good for one person. And he was the only man she'd ever know who thought women could inspire to such an extent. We grow into our sense of style and into our own skin in part because someone lovingly looks at us and imagines for us a role that is far bigger than the role we imagined for ourselves.

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