We've heard of the term dopamine dressing and how wearing colorful bright clothing automatically enhances our mood, but I think an interesting dive further into that is exploring where it comes from. One angle being feeding our inner child and going back to the playful fun colors and silhouettes we wore growing up.
My dear beautiful friend wrote this piece on how shopping the Indira Pink Polka dot set made her feel like her playful 5 year old self again. It's a really beautiful insight!
"I am a Taurus which means my birthday falls at the end of April and accompanies early signs of summer. I have always been blessed throughout the years with outdoor garden party birthdays, bouncy castles and sunshine. On my 5th birthday I had friends from junior infants over to the garden for some fun and games. I used to love my birthday and I’m not precisely sure when that changed but the love was always for the cake, the community, connection, celebration, fun, and of course the outfit!
I have always adored clothes for the main reason that they allow me to express myself, they’re a form of creativity, exploration and fun. I used to spend hours and hours in my room on my sewing machine from the age of 10. However, on this particular 5th birthday of mine, I was allowed to pick out and buy a dress myself. I fell in love with this pink sequin, mesh and silky little thing. The dress made me feel so happy, excited and celebrated. I remember I went to the hairdressers and got my hair tied up in these funny space buns, Miley Cyrus style but at 5 years old and before it was cool. I remember feeling fabulous and not caring so much what I looked like but feeling truly happy and like I was expressing from inside out.
Roll on 20 years later as my 25th birthday is approaching, I had been booking myself into women's retreats and self care days as little presents to celebrate me for the lead up to my big 25. Turns out the little party kid in me doesn’t really like nightlife, it’s always been more about connection, community, creativity and sunshine!
I was on a surf trip recently with Grainne, founder and designer of Subtle Poison and she was wearing these stunning pink pants that I couldn’t keep my eyes off, they just reminded me of feeling so happy. We talked a lot about Ireland and how our nation is full of incredible poets, actors, artists but also full of ancestral trauma that manifests in addiction, mental illness, deep disconnection and suppression. Grainne had just finished reading the book Listen to the Land Speak by Manchán Magan and we got talking about and were all fascinated by the famine, the
fairies and mystical Ireland. We drove past a fairy fort on the drive down where we were reminded of the old Irish tale of putting your jacket on inside out to break the spell of being enchanted by fairies. I do think the fairies were with us for the trip, we drove off once with the roof still up on the van and didn’t realise for a good 10 minutes. We reversed out of our overnight parking spot with the boards under the van without realising because they were nowhere to be seen, only to realise they had dragged along the ground with us yet were fully intact.
To join a few dots here, pardon the polka dot pun, I think it would be nice to fill you in on the years between my 5th and 25th birthday which includes a little bit of my history of my mental health as well. In my teens I struggled a lot with disordered eating which I never got any help for but upon discovering the book "The Goddess Revolution" by Mel Wells I was able to begin to heal in my own way. I knew my disordered eating had partly stemmed from the media, including
Facebook and Instagram and how women were over sexualised from such a young age.
Clothes stopped becoming this fun and happy thing for me as I tried to squeeze my body into the dresses we were all borrowing off girls in school for discos and house parties etc. While my love for fashion remained and I still had dreams to pursue fashion design or costume design after school, my sewing machine grew cobwebs while my unhappiness increased. I tried to squeeze myself into not just the dresses but also society’s expectations of me through the academic pressure I felt as well as the expectations I had on me to perform as an athlete for a sport I hated. I look back and laugh today because we were actually allowed to wear whatever colour skirts / kilts we wanted in my secondary school but I was advised that only weird people wore the pink kilt. The option to wear a pink kilt was one of the main reasons I hadn’t protested so much about going to this school in the first place. To cut a long story short, I really do believe and have made sense of my time in secondary school or teenagehood in general as when most of the colour left my life.
Unfortunately upon healing my disordered eating, my unhappiness just manifested in other ways throughout my later teens and eventually all came to head when I was 20 and hospitalised for a psychotic episode. I had been in therapy working through past trauma I found too difficult to process. I was later diagnosed with bipolar disorder following extreme and intense bouts of
depression and elation. Since I got on the right medication and significantly changed my lifestyle, career path, who I surround myself with and the company I keep, I have been a very healthy and happy 20 something year old for the last number of years. Sadly somewhere along the way I associated colour and creativity, expression and all the rest of it with my mental illness and have tried so hard to always appear to be the calm and grounded yoga teacher that I am.
Anytime I dye my hair pink or any other colour for that matter I feel like I
have the word mental illness labelled on my forehead and like each new tattoo I get is an advertisement for it as well. It’s been so incredibly refreshing to spend time with people who are kindred spirits, see the world in similar ways and allow me to co regulate with instead of feeling like I have to squeeze myself into a dress that doesn’t fit.
Fast forward back to the recent surf trip with Grainne and our other friend Colie, we truly had the best time, belly laughs in abundance and co regulating over the fact that we’ve all done lots of therapy and their younger selves would be so happy to see where they are today.
Arriving home I had my Return to Centre Women's day retreat the following day and I made sure to purchase those pink pants Grainne was wearing and of course the matching top so I could wear them to the retreat. I wanted to show up unapologetically as my authentic colourful self as the day was all about returning to the centre of who you really are.
I realise that the core of who I am is that happy little girl on my 5th birthday who loves wearing pink and connecting to the people around her. Part of me is the teen who tried so hard to fit in, I hold so much compassion for this version of me who was so lost and confused and had no skills to self regulate or real connection in her life. I am working on integrating all parts of myself to be the woman I am today to stand proudly and loudly in my pink and most importantly to feel alive
and free to be exactly who I want to be. I am so grateful for the women I have had to look up for for inspiration over the years, Grainne being one of them. Thank you Grainne for creating such magic pieces of clothing that make me feel so alive, free and most importantly happy and like me."