We are entering an age when our decision-making abilities are being threatened. So. We must exercise our skills of decision making for the sake of genuine connection through the lens of clothing.
I have been obsessed with online quizzes since their emergence in my life when I was twelve.
Every afternoon we walked the short walk from school to home and scanned the away messages on AIM, hoping and, in pubescent fear, not hoping that our boy crushes would become available. Or, in my case, I would just order pizza and get to see my boy crush then, a smile feverishly on my face as he handed me the pizza box. I pretended not to know his name. Years later I would place a kiss on his lips as he lay drunk on a hill. He never knew about it. Now I’m thinking that might have been a form of sexual assault. That's how it was growing up in a small town.
We took quizzes online which were made as mimicries of magazines and media we were consuming. This was social media before social media and the beginning of the end of an era in which we identified ourselves in the context of mall culture. The outcome of which would make us one form of little waiflike shadow of a woman propped in clothes and makeup. Would yours be surfer chick? Would it be sporty chick? Would it be flirty, or nerdy, or would it be punk, standing like pigeon footed marionettes. It depended on what store you frequented at Crossgates Mall in Albany.
This was so early 2000’s.
Soon all of this testing wouldn’t matter. Very soon, a little unidentifiable thing would be downloaded into our computers, a little eye that could see where we searched online. And soon we were all combed through, and we entered into markets that we didn’t choose ourselves.
Neo-capitalism is still a theoretical choice of identity.
I stood on a four train yesterday (not yet cramped) and found what I had been looking for: a site that uses algorithms that would send a wardrobe to you every month or so.
Here we are with the emergence of a market that is hyper individualized and hyper streamlined. What’s better: choosing between a Hot Topic top with lace and leather, or any number of these polo halter tops so that, with my new sizable breasts I can look like a bb slut. Or my boyfriend’s shirt, or boxers (which I definitely did wear – mostly as a mark of ownership (am I a toxic gf?)).
We are entering a new age in which the middle class is boujie at the ghost like hands of an Internet cloud. But the question begs to be answered: what are clothes and how can we use them to communicate if we are doing less and less of the work of choosing them?
The making of a capitalist is in the building of walls, the defining of personalities. The only way to exonerate ourselves from this complex capitalism is to try new things, to go beyond a comfort level, like stepping carefully onto a new planet. And who are we really? But the truth is that we are not one thing, we are not static, as if we are not even a single entity.
The same way you used to feel in September, picking your new backpack out, your new pencils and notebooks and folders, each color representing a different class. A kind of newness that gave you so much hope that you felt like you were breathing out of glistening new lungs. We will always be discovering and remaking ourselves, and it won’t be through quizzes.
We will understand ourselves through the people that we love most. The people who make us feel like we’re coming up for air. And then, like a wave, we will not understand ourselves again because identity is cultural. We are builders. That’s what we’re good at, but we can’t build without connection. Make it, tie it, buy it. These are our bodies. Let us drape them in a way where we feel the most sincere and genuine love.
We are ourselves, the same and different in relation to all the people around us. And the better we know ourselves in many facets of our personality, the deeper we can connect to other people.