Some days I dress down. I don’t mean t-shirts and jeans, casual wear, or anything like that. The days I dress down I dress the way I did when I was homeless. Originally, there wasn’t much of a reason to this. I probably should throw that part of my wardrobe away, although it is hard to erase parts of your wardrobe when it’s very limited to begin with.
Part of it is just me being lazy about things. As far as I can tell, there’s no real emotional reasoning going on for it.
At least, not at first. I’m starting to notice some interesting things in the days that I’ve dressed down.
First of all, people’s eyes slide off me. I don’t get noticed that much. When I do, it’s never really positive. I’ve heard all sorts of remarks about my appearance. Ranging from disgust to unease, I’ve just about heard everything. The most interesting thing about these responses is that they seem to assume that I’m deaf to them, or maybe that’s an extension to their eyes sliding off me, I’m off the grid. So long as people pretend they can’t perceive me, they can pretend I don’t perceive them. An exchange that soothes their consciousness as they go about their life in comfort, pretending not to be confronted with those who can’t afford their luxuries.
In much the same way, homeless people avoid me too. No need to beg for money from someone who you can tell has none.
Although this last bit isn’t entirely true. I’ve been homeless, and I personally know some of the people who are still out there on the streets. We don’t exchange sob stories, we just go our own ways with nods of appreciation to show we’re still soldiering on in our owns ways. There’s at least some comfort to that, but truth be told, I don’t have to dress down for this to happen. I can wear my new, clean clothes and they’d still give me that nod. If anything, I know most are happy I’m out.
Regular people treat me differently when I’m dressed normally. People’s eyes don’t slide off me as easily. I get noticed. A lot. Random people talk to me. Sometimes I overhear people talk behind my back about how good and confident I look, so maybe some people just assume I’m deaf to them either way.
A few times I’ve pushed this dressing down experiment to work places and people around me just to see if I’d notice any difference there.
When I dress down, people seem more concerned about me. I can be in the exact same health and mood as normal, but suddenly the always-present weariness on my face seems to get noticed. My normal laid-back attitude gets misconstrued for an apathetic spiral towards depression. Nothing about my behavior really changes outside the way I’m dressed, but all of a sudden I’m treated like a different person altogether.
Except with closer friends. They tend to see through that and just see me for the person I am. Then again, they tend to do a better job at noticing my actual off days no matter how I dress. Even if I’m not entirely aware of it being an off day myself.