Fashion who cares - Autism Chapter 12
Fashion – Who Cares?
If there’s one thing I wish someone would have told me in the early days, both before and just after diagnosis – it’s that things would get better. We would have to work at it, and sometimes two steps forward would be swallowed by five steps backwards, but in the end we would get there. And in fairness, maybe they did. Maybe I was just way too wrapped up in our own little world to notice.
Clothes have always been tricky in our house. And as I sit here typing I am remembering one particularly memorable occasion when I decided that my dress wearing daughter (no shorts or trousers would have got anywhere near her legs in those days), needed to wear a pinafore. It was six months before she was due to start school, and the school – in the infants at least – wore pinafores. So a lovely (in my eyes) red pinafore was purchased and the child was dressed in it. At which point the screams began. Oh yes they began and they continued. And continued. And continued. And resolute I stayed. This was a battle I couldn’t lose. It was a battle that needed fighting. I was all too aware of how many things would need screaming about on the first day of school, a pinafore was not going to be one of them.
And yes, I won. Or well I thought I had. The red pinafore was worn time and time again. And gradually the screaming disappeared. It was therefore without trepidation that I went uniform shopping with my daughter. The battle I thought, had been fought and won. In my eyes maybe, my daughter it seemed – as so often is the case – saw things differently. That day is the only time in her almost nine years that she has physically lashed out at me, but lash out she did. She fought. Literally. That day she fought with all her might to get out of that shop. The idea of putting on those unfamiliar clothes and most of all that GREEN pinafore was simply too much for her.
By the first of September, slowly but surely (and with a bit of help from Peter Pan – after all, green is his favourite colour) we had convinced her the uniform wasn’t scary and she wore it willingly if not happily into school. For her, then and still, it was the newness, the difference that was the problem – rather than the item itself.
Getting rid of old clothes and buying new ones is still one of the most tricky things we do in our house. But it has got better. There are frequently tears, but with understanding comes realisation, my daughter knows new clothes are needed. She may not like it but she does accept it. And I have got better at it too. These days we go out with the aim of buying clothes, we make it fun, but we don’t look for specifics. She may try on 100 things (I wish I was exaggerating), and we may only come home with one, but it is one that she will feel comfortable wearing. And wear it and wear it and wear it she will.
She now wears shorts and jeans, she’ll wear trainers and boots, and she’ll go uniform shopping – reluctantly – but she will do it. Fashion is unimportant to her – the idea that anyone wants to wear skinny jeans is a complete anathema – she knows what she likes and within limits that is what she wears. Maybe in some ways, her way, is better, healthier than most of ours. After all, maybe we should all worry a little less about what others think is right.