So we’re suppose to talk about our clothing/ outer layers and our appearance. Why we wear what we wear. I think clothes are a very personal thing. I really hate for people to buy clothes for me. Maybe it has something to do with when I was a kid. I wore hand-me-downs all the time. Not by choice. I have a vivid memory of pants with a crotch that came to mid thigh and legs that ended somewhere above my ankles. I’m guessing those pants were meant to fit a short, heavy person. I was a tall, lanky person. School was not a happy place because of this situation. I didn’t get a pair of actual jeans until 8th grade.
Anyway…when I read the article for this topic, I immediately thought of how my outward appearance has been recently stripped from me. That may sound strange but I can explain.
See, about this time last year I found out I had Stage 4 Lymphoma. Before then, clothing was fun, but not all that important. However, I used to love to wear cheap but sparkly jewelry. I had some super sparkly stuff that I’d had for many years but rarely wore. I never went anywhere fancy enough to wear it. Until one day I realized that if I didn’t start wearing it more often then I never would. I’m not a fancy dresser, but I didn’t give a flip. I was going to wear that stuff because I liked it and I liked looking at it. I was wearing it for me & I didn’t care if people thought it was too fancy or sparkly or whatever. It made me happy.
I also had really long hair that was almost to my hips. I’d been growing it out for about 10 years. It was a beautiful red with golden highlights. Not my natural color by any stretch. I’d been coloring my hair for decades. It was in my opinion the only thing I had left that was pretty.
So here comes the cancer. Guess what? The doctor tells me all of my hair is going to fall out. She didn’t mention that ALL of my hair everywhere was going to fall out. (Upside: I wouldn’t have to shave my legs & underarms.) Wow. I had about a month before that happened. About 2 weeks after the first chemo session she said. Before it happened, I had my long hair cut as short as possible and donated it. When it started to come out, it was slow for the first day or two then it came out in handfuls. Eventually I was almost completely bald. Oddly there were some remaining straggly strands that stayed. Think Riff Raff from Rocky Horror Picture Show. Yay. I cut them off. Eventually there were no eyebrows or eyelashes either.
To me it would’ve been ludicrous to wear jewelry or makeup, or nice clothes. They didn’t matter anymore and they wouldn’t help. I was stripped of my outward appearance. I could not project how I wanted to look through my clothes or jewelry. Thankfully it was wintertime and I could wear beanies, hoodies, jeans or sweatpants. Not that I had any energy to go anywhere anyway.
Now, I’ve been cancer clear for 6 months. My hair is growing back. It’s really short plus very curly when it wasn’t before. And gray, which it was before but I kept it colored. I don’t plan on coloring it again. I look like a very different person than I did 14 months ago. I’m trying to adjust to this version. I’ve started wearing makeup again. The earrings that I wore with long hair are too big to wear with short hair. I still have the same clothes. We’ll see how the sweaters & winter clothes look with this version of me. They were complimentary to long, red hair, a warm color. I don’t know how they’ll look with short, grey, cool-tone hair.
My appearance has changed, without my permission or approval. My clothes will have to adjust to that just like I do.