Monday, December 10, 2018

flashback fashion | so much plaid

Sometimes, memory is funny and fuzzy.  I often wonder if there would be things I would forget entirely if there were not photographic evidence.  Surely, there are non-captured memories that are vivid, but somehow visual representations of the past are more textured somehow.  This photo, taken Thanksgiving circa 1979, is one such instance.  There are things it evokes about my great-grandmother's house--those stairs, the strange wood paneling of her tidy little house (her house and all its lovely vintage style is worthy of it's own post in the future.)  But that basement was the perennial Thanksgiving haunt until it moved onto an aunt & uncle's house.   There was a strange little closet under those steps where, for most of my childhood, she kept a collection of children's distractions for us, small dishes and cars and randomness she'd haul out for us at our tiny kids table. I also used to shut myself in there like a weird little introvert, and there were strange knot holes in the wood you could peer out into the rooms on either side--the party in one room, the dark laundry room.

But moreso about this picture, which is probably also one of the ones that features all my cousins in one place who would eventually scatter across the country, it's the dress I was wearing that catches my memory most. (I am also delighted by the preponderance of plaid on all of us.) While my mom had a tendency to frock both me and my sister in red velvet at X-mas, this was , I remember, a re-wear of my first day of kindergarten was a weird polyester and I don't think lasted long, but I see it and immediately I am sitting on a weird orange carpet of the classroom, staring at the alphabet above the chalkboard and making the connection between the visual representation and the song my dad had bribed me with Rolos to learn about a year before. I also remember those tights were bought later for my tiny devil Halloween costume for which I had a small plastic pitchfork. (and as with most tights in my life, probably were already running.)  While I can pretty much remember every 1st day of school outfit ever, this is one of my favorites.  It must have been my go-to, b/c it was not only first day and Thanksgiving, but also picture day.  Somewhere in my stuff there is a tiny, smiling version of me in the same dress with a pageboy bob only a couple months shorter.

I think about this time and the things that surprises me most is it pre-dates any unhappiness about my my body, and self-consciousness that would creep in a couple years later.  There are many photos where you can tell by my confidence, those thoughts hadn't even entered my mind.   By 3rd or 4th grade, I still loved clothes, but was also conscious that I was larger (not just chubbier, which I was maybe a few pounds at that point, but not drastically so)  but just larger in things like shoe size and height than my peers.  When they lined us up by height for class photos, I was always in the back with the boys.  I've talked a bit before about my child self and my love of fashion that took YEARS, maybe DECADES, to get back, but it's always weird to see myself in that brazen, un-self-conscious state before things like eating issues and magazine took a chunk out of it.   May we all be as happy with our appearance and bodies as I was when I was 5...

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