This post was originally intended to be a response to a question on ADDforums.com. The poster was asking about whether we, as AD/HD women, cared about our appearance, since, as a group, we seem to be a lot less fussy about it. My reply, of course, got a little long, so I decided to post it here:
It’s not that I don’t care about my appearance, in particular, it’s just that I, like a lot of us AD/HDers, have a REALLY hard time consistently caring (or, rather, acting out the caring) about anything!
I forget to eat (or forget to stop eating – usually that). I think showers are boring (I like to try and make claims about how over-showered ppl are in the Western world, but really, I just think they’re boring). When I try to shave my legs, I’ll manage to create one suuuper smooth spot about the size of a dollar bill. The rest will still have an inch of hair hanging. I’ll admit it, it’s not a pretty picture, or paragraph of text, at least.
Still, there are some real upsides to forgetting to keep up with your appearance. First of all, people tend to like me for being a natural, hang-loose type of person. And, when I DO dress up, or put on even a little make-up, etc, people are so surprised they don’t forget it. In the meantime, I’ve come up with a few tricks over the years to give my appearance-related confidence a boost.
- Jeggings. Yep, just go with this trend! The jeggings can look all dressy-uppy (especially in black), but are really stretch pants, and are all stretchy, warm, and ready to expand for the all-you-can-eat sushi buffet! I got my jeggings at some department store (thanks to my bff for dragging me shopping!), and they’re Calvin Klein. Granted, they cost around $35 (which is a LOT in my book), but they were more than worth it. I mean…first business, then buffet! They’re my only pair of nice pants, and I’m just fine with that.
- Pajama jeans. Yes. This is the second MUST-FREAKING-HAVE. They cost $40 at CVS or Walmart, and are probably the most expensive thing I’ve ever bought from CVS. But again, they’re totally worth it. SO worth it! I mean, they really do look like jeans, but they really, truly, cuddle-up-with-my-greyhound-on-the-couch-and-eat-tapioca-pudding, ARE SWEATS. God bless the textile engineer (or whomever) who came up with that idea..
- Pick a signature piece of jewelry and wear it all the time. I have this one bracelet that I’ve been wearing forever (literally, 13 years). I think it makes me look pretty and unique (even if a lot of other ppl don’t like it, lol), and when ppl ask me if it has any significance, I say, “Yeah, it’s the one piece of jewelry I’ll never lose!”
- I only wear one coat, but I keep two things in the pockets: lip gloss/chapstick and cheap earrings. I take them off when I get home and put them back in my jacket.
- Alternatively, I also carry an (ugly) laptop messenger bag, but it’s got deoderant, meds, mascara, earrings, and a hairband. Basically I don’t own a lot of toiletries (one chapstick, one mascara), and all my jewelry is really cheap, but hey, it’s always there, and I don’t worry about losing it!
- Sort of reiterating points 4 & 5, make a TSA-standard-sized “first aid” kit of some little elements that will make you appear, well, socially acceptable (the TSA size is just so you can actually take it anywhere, and so you won’t pack too much, lol). You can get away with an amazing amount of appearance-related faux paux (plural?), if you just brandish a few social signifiers, ex-calibur style. Really. Even little things like…
~having a pen and a pencil
~keeping a few pieces of blank paper (yep, just fold and rip them in half, and claim your “green” status for making your “own” notepad!)
~wearing a pretty scarf (get the cheap pashima-knock offs at the drugstore, bc they fold up tiny)
~offering someone a stick of gum (dude, to offer = to have remembered it, and to have remembered it = a responsible person!)
…can really make ppl take you a lot more seriously. I mean pretty. Or, seriously and pretty. (Sorry I kinda got off track of the appearance question.)
So, you get the gist — streamline your wardrobe so you can look presentable while comfortable, keep a “first aid kit” of things AD/HDers are likely to forget, and pick a signature piece of jewelry.
Beyond this, though, own your AD/HD.
Honestly, I’ve come to terms with the fact that I *will* be the person who puts on deoderant on the bus/train (though never while driving!). I *will* be the woman who puts on earrings in the middle of a lecture. I will *also* be the woman who laughs it off and makes an offhand, light-hearted quip about double standards for female appearances. Five seconds later, I smell awesome and my ears are sparkly! And people *will* eat it up. In this day and age, people still have to be polite (at least in my line of work, academia), and at least act as though they’re all welcoming and nonjudgmental (even if they’r just acting – I mean, this is academia). So really. Who cares?! Just roll with it. Stand in the mirror and master your “So What?” face. FYI, it’s a mostly blank expression, with a slightly confused smile, and a completely self-righteous, subtly upward chin. (you know you’re trying it right now, hehe!)
My sister once said,
“It just matters what the front of your hair looks like. No guy looks at the back of your head.”
It may take an AD/HD brain to understand exactly how, but I do think that logic can be generalized to lots of situations.