Make Room For The Stuttering

Dressing Up or Dressing Down

Posted on: April 10, 2009

Little kids often like to play dress up in adult clothes, pretending to be a grown-up or someone they could imagine wanting to be. Little girls often take great delight in wearing mommy’s hats and jewelry, and trying to walk in shoes that are six sizes too big. Little boys like to wear daddy’s hats and ties, and also seem to take the same delight in trying to walk in huge shoes.

I don’t remember dressing up a lot as a little girl myself, but I do remember playing with paper dolls. I had lots of them, and they had little different paper outfits, which I experimented with on the dolls. I can remember dreaming about being a different person, and how that might be. How would she look? How would she sound? I imagined myself being someone else’s little girl.

I also remember my poor brother often took the brunt of his five sisters desire to try makeup on a real person. Once, a couple of us girls held him hostage in the bathroom and put mommy’s makeup on him. One of us held him down, while two others worked on the makeup. One held his eyelids closed, while the other applied mascara and eye shadow. When he squirmed and tried to wriggle free, we held him even tighter. Then we finished him off with blush and lipstick.

When we made him look in the mirror, he screamed and started crying. We girls thought that was hysterically funny. We dissolved into fits of giggling, and loosened our grip and he got away and ran and told on us. Mommy thought it was funny, but did wash the makeup off his face. I wish we had taken pictures of that day and moment. But it is seared in my memory.

Sometimes when I think of my stuttering, I can relate to the analogy of dressing up or dressing down. If I am really comfortable with who I am with, I am dressed down and loose. Kind of like wearing an old ratty pair of jeans, ones that are so thread-bare that they should be thrown out, but which I can’t bear to part with.

If I don’t know the group very well or feel I have to make a really good impression, or that I will be judged on my “performance” I might put on my dress up clothes. Suit, blazer, dress shoes with heels, all the things that I am not entirely comfortable with. And I might try to dress up my stuttering too. This might mean avoiding or switching a word, or talking at a much slower rate.

These are some of the covert dress-up tricks that I have used for years, and that still appear from time to time. It is so easy to slip back into old habits, sometimes almost unknowingly.

I am most comfortable in my old pair of jeans that has a big tear in the back. They no longer get stiff after washing and drying. That is my goal – to no longer get stiff, and only dress up when I really want to, not because I feel I have to. Dressing down is so much more me!

1 Response to "Dressing Up or Dressing Down"

Great post, I prefer the dressing down any day too cause I just prefer to be me, its less work and I do not set myself up for dissappointments.

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© Pamela A Mertz and Make Room For The Stuttering, 2009 - 2022. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Pamela A Mertz and Make Room For The Stuttering with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Same protection applies to the podcasts linked to this blog, "Women Who Stutter: Our Stories" and "He Stutters: She Asks Him." Please give credit to owner/author Pamela A Mertz 2022.
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