Freedom, authenticity and why I have a tutu now

I mentioned in my free manifesto that one of the things we lose when we lose our authenticity is that free abandon that you see in children – the freedom to act without fear of judgement.

I’ve been thinking about that a lot in the last couple of months, as I wrote my manifesto and afterwards. You see I have an image I carry around of this, well there are a number of images but one sticks in my head. It is of a small girl that I watched while shopping one day, she was dressed in a pink tutu, pink shirt, brown cardigan, yellow tights and topped off the whole outfit with gumboots (from memory they were red, but I know how flawed my memory can be).

The girl was walking with her mother, holding hands, and she had that aura of pride that you see in young children when they have obviously dressed themselves in their favourite things. I’ve seen that a lot of times in children – the boys who convince their parents they should wear their superhero costume out to a restaurant; the girls who are obviously in their favourite summer dress when it is all but snowing outside; and a whole range of children who are obviously dressed just a little oddly for the occasion/weather/colour coordination/comfort.

Do you remember that feeling?
They all share that look though, the pride of making their own decisions and wearing what they want to wear, irrespective of what anyone else might want. I can’t remember that feeling – and I’ve tried so hard lately to remember it. My embarrassment/conformity gene is a little over-active, so whilst I am sure that I did this as a young child, I can’t remember it. I also don’t remember doing it as an adult very much either – I spent a whole activity trying to address how much I used clothes to hide from the world.

I know that I am not alone in this, 30 days of fashion was probably the most commented on activity from My Year of TED. Yes, it was the most noticeable change that I made, but most of the comments were from other introverted people who also wanted to be more relaxed and have more fun with their clothes. I challenged a few of them back then, and I can still remember the look on my ex-manager’s face when I saw her in the top she told me was “too dressy” for work. It was a little like the look that those children get – unfortunately when I pushed the boundaries I just felt self-conscious.

So why do I now have a tutu?
Anyway, this whole post is to explain the tutu (above). You see, when I thought back about that little girl I realised that I never owned anything as outlandish as a tutu, so I decided that I should. And what better way to get what I want than by making myself one, a pretty crazy one at that. I may never wear it in public, but I love the fact that I own something so outlandish (and girly). It’s given me something that I can’t really put into words – I have been trying to do that for you but I’m at a loss. It sits in my studio, next to my desk, and it reminds me that if I wanted to, I could wear a tutu with complete abandon as well.

The funniest thing is, I can’t remember ever wanting a tutu, but somehow it has come to represent something very important for me. I think that we all have that one thing in our lives (or in our minds), that makes us feel so free and awesome. For me, it is the crazy tutu that I made – what is it for you? Do you have an item of clothing that gives you that look of pride? Or that allows you to feel totally yourself, in a slightly crazy way?

Just a little footnote to this, if I am ever game enough to wear this in public I will post up a photo – hopefully I will have “that look” 🙂

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