Why I Started My Blog
Many of my friends and family may not know this, but I started this blog to help deal with my postpartum depression and anxiety. It took me weeks and weeks before I realized there was something wrong after giving birth to my third baby. I had anxiety like I had never experienced; I didn’t want to leave the house at all. Being around other people put me in a panic. I thought my children and husband would be better off without me, that I had no value. I hardly felt anything for my baby. When I finally got up the nerve (seriously, it was incredibly hard to talk to anyone about it) to mention it to my doctor, part of my doctor’s orders included showering, getting dressed up every morning, even doing my makeup and hair. Dressed up. (And pajamas did not count, apparently.)
That made very little sense to me. I was incredulous. I didn’t care about clothing before; why would that make a difference? Not only had I rarely purchased clothing beyond the final-sale rack and thrift stores, I had never felt like I had any sense of style. Ever. None. At. All. Clothes covered my skin and that was it. I couldn’t tell you what was in my closet at any given time over the last decade, what brands I liked, what fit well (like, what does that even mean?), or how to put an outfit together. An “outfit” was a top and bottoms, right? That’s all I knew.
Besides getting dressed, my doctor also suggested medication and talking about my postpartum depression and anxiety. The transition period from that awfulness to feeling okay took a little while, but I eventually felt better more and more every day and was able to be around people again. But going out was hard. Nearly none of my pre-pregnancy clothes fit yet…and I didn’t even know if I wanted to wear them anyway. At that point, I decided I had to start shopping…and purge my closet.
I donated nearly all of my clothes. I had pieces from over ten years ago that hadn’t fit in years, shirts I had purchased on clearance with the tags still on, and only a handful of clothes I could even say I halfway liked.
A friend had recently posted about trying Stitch Fix and liking it, so my first step was signing up for Stitch Fix and getting a box of clothing in. To better understand how the service worked, I joined a HUGE online Stitch Fix group through Facebook with literally thousands of other women who used the service. It was helpful…but different from other groups I was used to interacting with (those consisted mainly of grammar nerds, artists, and gamers). Everything was about clothing, shoes, and accessories. Women posted what they got in their Fix, what they wanted to keep, and asked questions about how to “style” the pieces. So, so foreign to me! I stayed and observed, trying to figure out how to apply any of the advice to my own life and closet. It was hard, and I was lost so often.
Somehow, amongst all the dozens and dozens of posts every day, I found a post about another group for women and decided on a whim to join. It was called the Outfit of the Day (OOTD) group. I was accepted and, again, was incredulous. I had NO idea that people — normal people like me (okay, WAY more normal than I am) — took photos of their outfits and posted them online every day. Of their outfits. Every day.
I found that the women in the group were nicer than most I had ever known in real life. Supportive, encouraging, honest without being mean or catty…I seriously felt like I had fallen into some wonderful rabbit hole of female bonding. I quickly found myself loving the interaction and education I was getting from this group of women. I started posting my own outfits (eek!), asking for help on how to “style” things (a term I had only recently learned), and soon became an active member of the group. I learned how to look for outfits on Pinterest (what, what?!) and what was trendy versus classic. From there, I completely rebuilt my wardrobe and my self-esteem.
That last part was the oddest thing to me. My confidence had never resided in my appearance. Most of my life, I was full of self-loathing for my thick, unruly hair, my super pale skin, my round face, my spaced-out teeth. I suffered, quietly and privately, from depression and anxiety from about the age of 9, trying to overcome it with very little outside help (so many thanks to my older sister and husband for all those years of guidance and reassurance). Even with all that negativity in my head, I did feel like I was intelligent and compassionate and hardworking and creative — that’s what mattered. I worked full time and tried to be a good mom to my kids and wife to my husband. I could be those things without a sense of fashion or a cute hairstyle or tan skin.
But after the birth of my last child, the chemicals flooding my brain told me none of it mattered at all: those chemicals demanded I know that I was worthless inside and out.
Of course, though, my doctor was right. Getting dressed every day was helping. Fixing up my hair and makeup was helping. And getting positive feedback, even compliments, about my appearance like I had never experienced…it was helping.
A little over two years have gone by since my youngest was born. Since I started blogging and posting pics of my outfits, I’ve taken hundreds of outfit photos through all four seasons. I’ve developed at least some sense of style and knowledge of what fits, what brands I like, and what I feel good wearing. And along the way, I’ve started helping dozens of other women with those very same things. Now I share my opinions on clothing and how pieces look together, and I actually feel valued among women — something I had never experienced before in such a capacity.
It is still mind-boggling sometimes to reconcile how much this simple thing, just getting dressed every day, has helped me to get better. But knowing and feeling the difference it has made for me emotionally and mentally, I want to help other women feel that, too. I hope that’s what you get from every comment I make, every opinion I give, every outfit photo I share…uplifted, encouraged, and ready to see your worth.
~ Amanda Leigh