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Dressing Up Won't Cure My Depression, But It Helps

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When I was a little girl, my absolute favorite thing to do was play dress-up. I loved Halloween. I loved costumes. I even loved wearing pretty dresses, even though I’d consequently fall and rip my tights. My mom was an awesome seamstress, so our Halloween costumes were usually homemade. I learned to sew from my mom, so she’d sit at her sewing machine making a dress for her upcoming military ball, and I’d sit nearby and try to make a dress out of the scraps. I did succeed in making a dress one time, but then I got stuck in it. Awkward…

In all the pictures from my childhood, I’d be wearing some remarkably bright dress and striking a pose like I was some kind of superstar.

As I grew into adulthood, I lost some of that desire to embrace my individuality through fashion. Through adolescence and college, I experienced some body issues and found it hard to want to do anything but cover up and blend in.

Last year, I went through a bought of depression and was struggling in my romantic relationship. It seems when there is a breach of trust in a relationship, I always end up questioning if I am good enough to be loved and whether my partner finds me attractive. Mixed in with depression, though, it can be tough to get out of — because there’s a voice in your head telling you, “You aren’t enough.”

So one day, I changed my appearance to manage my turmoil inside. I cut off my brown hair and dyed it red. I stopped caring so much about blending in and started wearing whatever made me feel good. I started decorating myself like a canvas and embraced that inner little girl who imagines herself a fashionista.

And it helped.

Even if inside I feel like I want to crawl in a hole — I can look at my tights and think, “Man, these are so badass.” Even if my anxiety is hitting the accelerator before I walk into a crowded room, I walk in confidently because I’m pretending I’m a biker goddess.

I’m not saying clothing fixes everything — or even anything. I’m saying dyeing my hair, painting my nails bright colors, buying red lipstick, wearing leather jackets or my Oxfords helps me feel good about myself.  I feel more like me, even if I am imagining my clothes as a protective armor.

Self-care comes in many different forms — so if you feel like wearing a fabulous cape, do it.

Today, I am wearing bright red tights.

Image via Thinkstock.

Originally published: September 24, 2016
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