On Birthday’s

I think an often un-talked about part of growing up is the process of figuring out a few definitive statements about yourself that you don’t believe can change. We all have them – a few facts that we keep on file in the back of our heads, markers that tell us who we are and provide answers for the dreaded question ‘Tell me something about yourself!’

‘I never, ever go on roller coasters’, ‘I don’t like fish’, and ‘I love Christmas more than you love Christmas’ are just a few of mine, and until recently ‘I hate Birthday’s’ was almost top of that list.

Up until this year, I’ve never had a birthday that didn’t end in tears. When I was younger, year after year, I would blow out the candles on my cake and immediately burst into sobs of tears. Even at the age of 8 I hated the idea of growing up, every night leading up to the ‘big day’ I would run into my mums bedroom wailing that I wasn’t ready to be older yet and I just wanted to say the way I was now.

As I did, inevitably, get older, my birthday turned into a recurring marker of failure. After leaving school when I was 14, birthday’s became sickening reminders that I wasn’t where I was supposed to be, that my life wasn’t going the way it should be going, that I was losing the game. I turned 16 without any GCSE’s. I turned 17 without having had a boyfriend. I turned 18 and had to leave my tiny birthday tea early, in tears, because I felt too anxious with the pressure of everyone looking at me.

This year something changed. On June 21st I turned 20 years old. And as the day approached I found my yearly mounting dread had turned into tentative joy. I couldn’t wait to leave my teenage years behind. I was excited by the thought of entering my 20’s. And slowly, I began to think about what it might be like to actually celebrate my birthday, to commemorate this day, not as a signpost of how badly my life was going, but as a celebration of the fact that things are actually starting to go quite well.

So me and my mum began to plan a party… as I’m still not really a grown up we essentially planned the perfect tea party for a 10 year old. Mini scones, mini sandwiches, lots of bunting and a make your own flower crown table.

As a teenager, I had a habit of wearing tutu’s. Not small, discreet tutu’s, but proper, big, full on, poofy, tutu’s. The sadder, sicker and more confused I felt on the inside, the bigger the tutu’s got, and it finally reached the point where most day’s I would leave the house in a tutu and tiara.

I had this theory – that if I only wore pink, sparkly, magical outfits on the outside – then no one would see how sad and painful I was feeling on the inside. That if my exterior was happy, shiny, fluffy, a characature of a fairy princess – then it wouldn’t matter so much that my interior was rotten and black, full of pain and sadness and hope that was slowly dying.

Over the past year, as things on the inside have begun to heal, the need to dress up to mask the sadness has also ebbed away. And as I’ve started to feel lighter and brighter in my head, I’ve begun to wear more black, no longer gripped by the need to trick everyone into thinking I’m okay – because I actually am okay.

On my birthday – I wore a tutu. Not because I was covering anything up. Not because I was trying to pretend I was happier than I was. But because for the first time in a long time I felt like my exterior and interior were starting to match up. As I stood in my garden, surrounded by all the people I loved most in the world, people who had been there for me in times that were so bad, people who should have ditched me years ago because I was grumpy or weird or never replied to their texts or barely left the house, I felt happy. Really happy. Truly happy. I felt like a big, pink, sparkly, ridiculous tutu. Full of love, genuine love, for the people I was looking at.

For the first time in 20 years, I didn’t cry on my birthday. I didn’t hate the idea of growing up. I didn’t try to pretend that the day wasn’t happening. Instead, I wore a tutu, made a flower crown, ate a mini scone, and felt excited, properly excited about finally growing up.

Birthday Group
 
Wearing: American Apparel wrap top, Ted Baker tulle skirt, Adidas mesh trainers.

Prom…

I had no idea what prom would be like, I knew it was going to be a party with my friends and I knew i needed a dress and to decide how I was going to wear my hair. But it was prom, what was going to happen to set it apart from just a normal party? In my mind prom was associated with films in which it was a major milestone in the lives of american teenagers, filled with excitement and glamour, slow dancing, spiked punch and generally a happy ending. However I was also aware that, living in England, with an anxiety problem and not owning a brightly coloured maxi dress my prom would be slightly different.

A few days before, I realised I was actually quite nervous. Excitement confused with anxiety was causing me to feel nauseous whenever I even thought about leaving the comfort of my bedroom and actually having to socialise, even if it was with people who I go to school with everyday in a building 20 minutes away from my house. To me the fear was real, although admittedly completely irrational. I arrived with a group of my friends after having had a few glasses of prosecco and taking a few too many photographs. My gold mini dress and black high heels felt like suitable prom attire, the emerging blisters, to me a true sign that i had achieved the vague and unhelpful guidelines of ‘smart’.

My initial impression of prom was that it was slightly disappointing. As I walked in, the large room was mostly empty except from a few of my school friends, one or two teachers and a DJ, the much anticipated night suddenly seemed like a bit of a let down. I came to realise that because of my expectations of the night either being really fun or really scary i hadn’t considered the possibility that it would just be ordinary and due to my ability to wildly overthink situations, the night was destined to be a bit disappointing. Prom night consisted of all of the aspects that make a party, a dark room, music, me dancing while trying to ignore the fact that I have no rhythmic ability, a couple of drinks, someone being sick in either the bathroom or the bushes outside, and all of my friends. Had this been a normal party I probably would have had a lot of fun, however the idea that prom was just like a regular night felt wrong. Despite having said this, prom did have its high points and I would definitely recommend prom-ing to others, even if it is a bit shit and you have blisters for weeks at least you’ll have some great pictures of you in a nice dress looking like you were having fun and some very toned calf muscles from those high heels, undeniably worth it.

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Wearing – Bella Freud metallic shift dress, Topshop suede tie sandals 

Anna

Hi, I’m Anna Kitty and this is me crying.

I’m someone who has suffered from panic attacks and anxiety for years and at the beginning of last summer things started to get really bad. I spent the majority of my time watching re-runs of friends, stalking Kim Kardashian’s instagram account and trying to avoid anything that meant leaving the house. However over the past year, after a very low point, things have slowly started to get easier. After spending months  wearing only pyjamas and lying on the sofa I realised that I was actually going to have to turn off the TV and leave the house, in doing so I discovered that by wearing whatever I wanted and not choosing my clothes in order to fit in with everyone else, something I used to find myself doing a lot, I was able to have some control about how I felt, and leaving the house could become something creative and not as scary.

My mum is a strong believer in feeling better and recovering from the inside out, however i’ve come to realise that a good pair of jeans and some mascara can go a long way when I’m feeling a bit shit. As my anxiety has started to reduce, my personal style has become less about trying to feel safe and more a form of self expression, and I guess this blog will help me to document how strongly my mood effects how I dress and how what i’m wearing can alter my mood.

Going outside has now become a regular activity in my life, therefore everyday brings opportunity for a different outfit and the process of getting dressed is definitely a highlight in my day. Being able to chose how the world see’s me through the clothes I decide to wear, whether that be wellies and dungarees or high heels and a mini dress, is something I enjoy. In addition, the satisfaction of being able to put on my pyjamas at the end of the day is heightened by having been outside wearing real clothes, there is a feeling that the more eccentric my outfit for that day the more I deserve to lie on the sofa, stalking Kim Kardashian’s instagram and eating almond butter out of the jar.

Scarlett

Hi, I’m Scarlett Curtis, I’m 20, and I’ve been blogging, writing and journalism-ing since I was 14, you may know me from my blogs Teen Granny or ScarlettCurtis.com, or you may not know me at all, in which case – Hello, would you like a cupcake?

If you’ve ever read anything I’ve written before, you may know that starting a fashion (ish) blog isn’t exactly in my comfort zone. For a very long time clothes and fashion were pretty much the last thing in the world that I could even think about.

I spent a lot of my teens in a lot of physical pain followed by a lot of mental pain. For 3 years I had such a bad back that I couldn’t wear anything except hugely baggy jumpers that wouldn’t touch my skin and once I got physically better, my struggles with anxiety and depression meant that I rarely got out of my pyjamas. Fashion and ‘cool clothes’ were a portion of this world, much like dungeons and dragons or the stock market, that I assumed I would never be a part of.

I wanted to start this blog because over the last year, as my anxiety and depression has begun to shift, I started to realise that caring about what I wore meant more than just which navy blue GAP jumper I put on in the morning. That the clothes that I armed myself with every morning before setting off into the big (and let’s face it, often pretty scary) world could make me feel confident, or clever, or even potentially cool.

I started to realise that all the women around me who I assumed just came out of the womb knowing exactly what to wear, were also making big decisions about what they wore and that those decisions, even if only in the smallest way, were effecting how they felt as they lived their lives.

My life was so odd for so long, odder than the second season of True Detective. And I feel it’s my mission now to try and figure out what beautiful, wonderful, scary things compile this ‘normal’ world I had come to think of as so odd and distant and alien for so long.

When I was 14 I decided to start calling myself Teen Granny, and being a Teen Granny helped so much in making my necessarily quiet, secluded life seem less horrible and less lonely than it was. But as I’ve grown up, it’s sometimes felt hard to let go of the labels I used to define myself for so long. No longer the sick girl, the girl who never goes out, the girl who cries all the time or the girl who loves knitting more than most people love Channing Tatum’s abs – I found myself a bit lost at who I was. Unable to quite comprehend that I could be the happy girl, the girl who likes clothes, the girl who only cries when she’s sad things happen and not just all day, everyday for seemingly no reason. I want to use this blog to try and step out of my comfort zone just a little bit and start to look into those parts of life I felt so removed from for so long.

I still don’t know that much about fashion, but I am starting to realise there’s a connection between how I feel on the inside and the face I show to the world on the outside, and this little piece of the internet is a place for me and my far more stylish cousin, to explore that idea a little bit further.