The Hidden Village of Aspergers

February 3, 2011

Eyes! Hair! Mouth! Figure!

Filed under: routine — kankurette @ 8:03 pm

I am somewhere in my pre-teens, and my mother is dragging me round various clothes shops, picking things out for me and making me try them on, picking some things out for herself while she’s at it, and I am desperate to go home, or to a book shop, or anywhere that does not involve me having to try on clothes. I try on a pair of shoes in a shoe shop, and say I like them just so I can get the hell out. The shop is hot and the lights are too bright and I am bored rigid. The shoes are tight and killing my feet. I hate this place. I hate it. I hate it.

“Why can’t you take more of an interest in how you look?”

When I do venture out into a clothes shop, I go in having a vague idea of what I want, I browse for a bit, pick a couple of items, try them on, and buy them if I like them. Get in, get stuff, get out. The idea of spending hours and hours looking at things you’ll never buy and trying them on, even though they’ll go back on the rail, baffles me. I’ve gone shopping with countless friends and hung around bored out of my brain while they try things on, holding their bags and pretending to care. Take me to Foyles or Waterstones or a music shop and I’m happy. Take me to a clothes shop and I just want to get out as soon as possible. In high street shops, I feel like a grossly obese tramp. Everyone is thinner and prettier and more fashionable than me. I feel ungainly and awkward, like I’m a giant tiptoeing through a dolls’ house and trying not to smash the tiny furniture under my huge clumsy feet.

Fashion and I have never got on. I don’t think we’ve ever met. I buy clothes because they look nice on me, or because they’re comfortable, but not because they’re in. Ask me what the current clothing trend of the season is and I will shrug my shoulders, except that time when everyone was wearing long skirts, which made me happy because I love long skirts, what with my hideous legs. But I never got the point of buying things just because it’s supposedly cool to wear them at the moment, only to shove them in the back of your closet once they go out of fashion, and go out and buy tartan stuff or whatever it is that is trendy. Who cares? Why does it matter? I just don’t get it at all. This is one of the reasons why I never fitted in at school, and why I don’t fit in at work. I see clothing as something that keeps me warm and stops me getting arrested, maybe something pretty to look at – I used to read Glamour because I loved the pictures – and something I can occasionally get dressed up in for a night out. But I cannot have long conversations about it. I simply do not care.

I am always painfully aware of how out of touch and uncool and scruffy I am when I am at work, or when I was in first year, and the other women would be talking about clothes they bought and showing off their purchases, and I would be sitting there, not really caring or mustering up the enthusiasm. Bring home a vinyl record and my ears will prick up, but bring home some shoes and I will probably be the only person not squeeing, unless they are particularly bonkers. Or are Doc Martens. I love Doc Martens.

I don’t really have a look. No, I tell a lie. It’s all elasticated waistbands (damn you, IBS and meds!), lots of black, long skirts, band t-shirts, long stripey socks, hair decs, dangly earrings when I’m in the mood, and Doc Martens, of course. Sometimes I get my hair cut when it’s summer and my head is overheated – I have very thick hair – and I have piercings, and I wear the odd bit of jewellery for a night out, but I rarely buy clothes. I am ashamed to admit that a lot of my clothes are either hand-me-downs or have been bought for me. I have little energy as it is and am rarely well enough to spend ages traipsing around clothes shops looking for new things to wear.

I don’t know how much of this is Aspergers and how much of this is just a Lotte thing, but according to the By Parents For Parents site, a lot of girls with Aspergers do have problems with image, wearing the same thing all the time, not washing or using deodorant and so forth. Maybe they can’t be bothered, or maybe, as with me, it doesn’t register. I do make sure my clothes are clean and don’t smell funny, thanks to parental influence, and I brush my hair – although unfortunately my hair has other ideas and reacts to me trying to style it with “bitch, please, I do what I want” – and I wash, brush my teeth, wash my face, pluck my eyebrows, although I cannot be arsed shaving my legs. I don’t wear army trousers or band t-shirts or whatever to work, unless it’s a Sunday and the office is empty. But that is generally as far as I go.

Hanging around with other ‘alternative’ type girls, having said that, did help me develop some idea of how I wanted to look. I liked how they dressed and wanted to look like that. I knew I couldn’t be bothered paying a shitload of money for designer labels, and that I wobbled around in high heels and was better off in flat shoes, and when I saw musicians such as Cerys Matthews or Kittie in magazines, I thought they looked cool and wanted to dress like them too. It was very much a process of trial and error, and I have more of an idea of what suits me and what doesn’t. It’s probably a good thing that I don’t wear black lipstick anymore. I have one look for work, which crosses over with my look for synagogue (except I don’t wear trousers on Shabbat), and another look for clubbing or parties. But fashion? You can keep it.

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