Monday, March 10, 2014

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" :-)


Adam Bailey said...

I really like this post a lot, just wanted to say that. It feels like freedom to me, like your tutu is a conduit to a delicious world with no boundaries or limitations, a world where endless possibilities are right at your fingertips. You described it perfectly, and yes, I remember that feeling as a kid.

I had to think about your question for a bit because, for now, I'm still hiding behind my clothes. :) But after a quick mental search through my wardrobe I found "it." Something I can wear, if I choose to, that have the ability to transport me to that feeling, which I'm calling freedom.

Most of my life has been spent in an emotional prison, shackled to my erroneous beliefs, surrounded by walls where every brick was meticulously set in place by me. After reading "30 Days of Drive" and "Finding Your Way Home" (both brilliant), I'm realizing that throughout my life's journey I've been in pursuit of my authentic self, and what an awesome pursuit that is. It's taken a lifetime, and there are still walls up here and there, but there are more and more moments of connection to that feeling. Thanks for reminding me.

So to answer your question, I have a pair of running shoes that are my conduit, they're amazing. I haven't been on a run in quite a while, but when I dug them out of my closet today, it made me smile...

Kylie Dunn said...

I think as introverts we tend to hide a lot in our clothes, after all we prefer to blend into our surroundings - until we feel comfortable enough to not want to do that anymore :-)

I'm so glad that you found your one thing again, you should keep them somewhere you can see them more often - I've found that having the tutu near my desk is very powerful. It means that every time I walk to my computer I smile, and get that feeling of endless possibility.

I'm glad that the books have helped you gain some clarity around that pursuit - now we just want to see more of your writer's voice out there Adam :-)

Alison Rogers said...

Mine is my running spike, I can feel the freedom when i see or touch them!...and now you have worn your tutu in public! It can be seen at

Alison Rogers said...
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