I'm not sure why some people wear their pain and others don't. I'm not sure if it's a personality thing (introvert/extravert) or a sensibility thing (a desire for a public or a private life) or something less noble, like sympathy seeking (for Sloppy Sue) or pride (for the ever-polished.) For me, I feel that it's important to share my story, as a cautionary tale if nothing else. However, I do not want to be pitied ever (it's an ego thing) and learned quickly that people find it hard to pity you when you are sporting a wardrobe worth more than their car.
I had parts of a previous blog excerpted in a documentary on postpartum depression. I'm played by an actress woman wearing a ratty pink bathrobe. I really like this production and was flattered to have had a small part in its creation, but I have never looked like that in my life. Presumably, a polished exterior would not convey my interior pain to the audience, however. If you are messed up, you need to look messed up unless the director is trying to prove a point. In Breakfast at Tiffany's and Belle de Jour, Holly Golightly and Severine's gorgeous Givenchy and YSL wardrobes were meant to serve as contrast to their turbulent inner worlds. The funny thing is that, years later, these characters are remembered primarily as style icons. I'm as guilty as anyone. When I think of Belle de Jour, I think only of Catherine Deneuve's fabulous Roger Vivier shoes, not her sad state.
The downside of dressing better than how you feel is that you are not treated with the empathy given to the sloppy Sues of the world. Perhaps it's the What Not to Wear factor. If you look together on the outside, people assume you are together on the inside. For me, it's the opposite. The more chaotic I feel on the inside, the better I look on the outside. Many times, I've been asked to volunteer time or donate money to people who were, in that moment at any rate, better off than I was. If it weren't so irritating, it would be funny.
So what's the solution, then? Do we all have to become our own PR agents, modifying our dress to let the world know we need some TLC? Do we simply all wear t-shirts (or send out Facebook status updates) indicating our state? Or should we all just act with kindness, expecting little of people unless they offer it, and giving as much as we can when we are able.
That way, we can all just ditch the hammer pants.