Calvin Walterhouse: On Clothing And Identity


Who are you?
What do you have to say?
What do you want from life?

"Identity, soul, desire. Questions with myriad answers. Questions that have been asked for time untold. Questions that plague and occupy the minds of kings, sages, philosophers, and the everyman alike. Questions that only you can answer for yourself. “These questions do not concern me” you may say. But if they do not, they should. If they do not, someone else is answering them for you, determining your destiny, stealing your money, violating your land.

These questions present challenges, and a confrontation with and an immersion into the unknown, and so it is quite understandable that most people leave them unexamined, or at least unrealized. But they can always be felt gnawing at the back of your consciousness, begging to be acknowledged, asking you to explore them. You know deep down that you want to know more, to discover new things about yourself and life, but you silence this voice because it is dangerous, because it might make you or those around you uncomfortable, because it might evoke change.

Maybe you cannot abandon all of your possessions and allow the winds of destiny to blow you where they may, but you are powerful and you have a voice that must be heard, you need not be afraid to speak. Words although powerful are not always necessary to communicate, the themes of identity, soul, and desire can be explored daily at an essential and primal level: what you wear. The claim by many that fashion is a superficial pursuit is false, and leads many to never explore themselves and the world around them in one of the most simple ways possible. What is more is that those who claim not to care about what they wear are only lying to themselves. The most ascetic of ascetics has an aesthetic. The skin with which we cover our skin every morning is a communication to the world around us, it is an expression of who we are, and there is no limit to what we can say. It communicates which groups we are a part of and which not, who we are, how we feel, what we are thinking, and what we want from life.

And so who are you, what do you have to say, what do you want from life? What you clothe yourself with is the first and essential step in determining the direction in which your journey shall disembark. Explore, experiment, experience, the answers do not matter so long as they are your own, refuse to allow others to answer these questions for you. It will take courage and boldness to start, but you will soon discover that you are strong, brave, and empowered and free to dress as you please."

-Calvin Walterhouse
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