Living in the First Person

There are currently three fashion sites open in my web browser. Girls sulk artfully on the “hot” page of Lookbook, modern ascetics in thousand-dollar jeans. “So…Let’s Talk About This Climate Change Thing,” Refinery29 suggests coyly amid “Sexy, Spiky, High-Heeled Holidays” and “The Best Toners for Every Skin Type,” while the bloggers at GoFugYourself cackle and quip about gold lamé jumpsuits on haggard celebrities.

I love these sites, and I’d like to preface this post with a quote from Linda Grant:

I consider it absolutely normal to care deeply about what we wear, and detest the puritan moralists who affect to despise fashion and those who love it…I no longer take seriously those derisory accusations leveled against those who are interested in clothes. You might as well level them at Proust, Virginia Woolf, George Eliot –  all of whom wrote about clothes and thought about clothes. I certainly won’t take it from those men who judge and condemn women for the various failures of our appearance while simultaneously barking that only feeble shallow creatures such as women would pay any attention to how they look.

That is the great misogynist trick.

So, here’s my plan: to go without looking in a mirror for a week. But it’s not about declaring an interest in fashion shallow, or freeing myself from the burden of beauty to devote my mind to more “important” things. Like it or not, aesthetics are important, and I think placing significance on them is as valid a choice as devoting oneself to painting. I advise that anyone looking for a thoughtful defense of fashion (which is so often deemed trivial and so curiously also deemed feminine) peruse The Thoughtful Dresser: The Art of Adornment, the Pleasures of Shopping, and Why Clothes Matter, from which the above quote is taken.

Here’s what it is about: eating a big, satisfying meal without peering at myself afterward, appalled that the food in my stomach does, indeed, take up space. Living a week without “good” or “bad” hair days that in turn affect the goodness or badness of the day overall. Taking five minutes to choose an outfit instead of twenty anguished ones. Walking down the street or drinking coffee or working out without checking how I look walking down the street or drinking coffee or working out. Living in the first person: not a you in the mirror.

Mine is a humble project compared to other ones like it, the most notable being the brilliantly titled Mirror, Mirror…Off the Wall. Still, I’m all about moderation, and I suspect that a week will be challenge enough. Proof: I was originally going to start this project today. Then I was invited to a birthday party at a bar tonight. If the above hadn’t tipped you off, I’m vain, and I decided to postpone the experiment and grant myself one last night of primping. I initially thought I might squeak by without having to go anywhere but work and class “blind” to my own appearance, but I was just invited to another birthday party next Saturday, and I’m going to stick to my guns.

Wish me luck.


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