Ever since I have been little, I have hated wearing certain things probably due to Aspergers. Shoes, socks, coats, and layers of clothing drove me crazy. To complicate things further, the littlest touch of something against my skin could irritate me. My patient mother cut tags out of clothing, allowed me to not wear itchy wool, and tried to comfort me when I panicked because of uncomfortable sensory input.
As I grew older, other components began to dictate how I dressed. My desire to be beautiful, pure, and good led to me wearing dresses and skirts all of the time. In fact, my mother often cautioned me to dress less formally when I went to home-school coup or youth group. One day, I might glide into classes with a tiara, glitter dotted on my face, and a long dress. The very next day, however, I might refuse to put on any makeup and wear ponytails with ribbons and a cutesy dress in an attempt to look younger. Needless to say, I was a bit of an oddball.
Yet, there was more pain in choosing my clothing than anyone knew. As I struggled with overeating in my teenage years, I began to hate and fear my body. During this time period, I also began to mature. Confused and ashamed, I wore loose and flowing shirts with long skirts or baby-doll dresses in an attempt to hide myself. Everything had to cover up as much of me as possible. Perhaps then people wouldn’t see the ugly creature inside.
I still remember being in the show Annie and trying on one of my dresses. After zipping it up, I looked in the mirror. It was form-fitting although not too tight. When I came out to show the costumer, I felt so embarrassed. Instead of being disgusted, the wonderful woman gasped and told me how beautiful I was. To this day, she holds a very special place in my heart as one of the few people who repeatedly saw my inner and outer beauty instead of my weight or oddities.
Oddly enough, I wanted certain things tight all of the time as opposed to loose. For example, my ponytails had to be pulled as hard as possible so that they were firmly in place. Having my hair any other way felt like wet noodles on my head. Blankets I also wanted cozily wrapped around me with no space for air. With my hyper-tuned senses from Aspergers, I always wanted things at the extremes of tight or loose.
Today, I still struggle with having clothing just the right way. Now, however, I need it to be tighter (although not overly tight) as opposed to loose. I panic that any air between my body and the material will be seen as layers of fat. Thus, getting dressed is still a time of great stress for me. Slowly, however, I am seeing that little elements of progress are being made. Tags remain in most of my clothing now. Although certain textures of fabrics irritate me, I do occasionally wear layers. I still dress more formal than most young adults but not inappropriately so for the most part. Best of all, I have begun to discover my own style and enjoy that.
Thus, my Aspergers and Anorexia still dictate my clothing choices often. But slowly, I am finding myself and allowing that to shine through with what I wear. Will buying or picking out attire ever be easy? Probably not but it has become manageable most days. Although it is a small victory, this gives my hope for larger changes for the better in my life.