For example, I tried to read George Orwell’s political novella “Animal Farm” when I was nine, and I hated it. I had no idea that it was an allegory about the 1917 Russian Revolution and a critique of Joseph Stalin and his communist Soviet Union. Totally oblivious, I quickly got bored of reading about a group of bossy pigs ordering around a bunch of horses and hens.
Recently, someone asked me to justify my love of clothes, and I felt like the wind was knocked out of me. In fact, I renamed my column this semester, from “Justify My Love (of Clothes)” to the current “Fashion Statements” to signify that I was finished with proving to people that my interests mattered.
I tried this once. I never made it to the gym that day, though the thought that I needed to nagged me until dinnertime. At 7 p.m., as I ate my salad in un-sweaty leggings, I felt like my day had yet to start. I hadn’t done the one activity I had gotten dressed to do.
One of my fondest childhood memories is the time I picked out these boots with my mother. Though I was already 13 years old when I bought them, I remember feeling as if owning these shoes solidified my status as A Real Teenager, because they were the first shoes I bought in an adult size. I received them for Christmas when I was in eighth grade, and I loved them for the next eight years.
I remember every detail of that night, walking to a store that I usually visited to buy gifts for others. I can conjure up the specific mix of feelings that swept over me: disbelief and pride in my admission, relief knowing that high school was almost over, validation, and liberation. I felt profoundly lucky and full of glee. I’d never felt moved to buy jewelry to celebrate. But picking out a chain and three charms—a star, a flower, and a tiny gold cloud—felt fitting. I wore my necklace out of the store.