The Gift of Being a Misfit

Hello my lovelies!

A handsome, blue-eyed, off-the-rack sort of guy, meeting me for the first time said “what is it you do, exactly? What is altering clothing?”  (the altered universe) He was a writer, so I said “I edit clothing. I take out what isn’t needed here and add more there.” He nodded in a bemused way. “Is there enough work in that? How many people have clothes that don’t fit?”  I peered at him incredulously.  At 6’1” with a slim, athletic build, he might have never once in his life have had the experience of things not fitting.  Not for him the anxious bargaining, writhing and twisting while lying down to get a pair of jeans over his hips.  Hmmm...  It might never have occurred to him that modern mass-produced clothing does not actually fit the masses.  I literally, had never met anyone like him before.   “I don’t mean to be rude,” he said, which is something I notice people saying just before they are about to say something rude, “but what is it you do all day?”  The answer is something I have been considering ever since.  

This blog is an attempt to figure out exactly what it is I do all day, while other people are saving the rainforest, researching climate change, curing cancer, feeding the hungry…. Me? I’m just trying to make your damn pants fit so they don’t ride up your ass and make you grumpy. It’s not really as noble as rescuing puppies from a burning building but there you go.  There’s still a need for it.  I never set out to fix the world one pair of pants at a time or be, like Saint Therese, a “saint in little ways.”  No, I had grander plans for myself, though I have since forgotten what they were. I think I wanted to be a veterinarian or maybe  a professional roller-skater. At fifty, I have been through a thing or two and I have reached what Plato called the “Philosopher’s Age.”  I see now that someone whose pants are not bunching up and chafing his or her butt cheeks might actually be a kinder, more enlightened human being--one who might support Heifer International or donate to public radio during one of their pledge drives.   And perhaps it is up to that kinder, more pleasant, less chafed individual to save the world, not me.  Such is my gift to humanity. 

Like Eve, I went into clothing design for moral reasons.  At nine years of age, I inherited a box of Barbie dolls from a neighbor. I didn’t need to eat any apples to observe they were naked.  Seriously dismayed to learn that Mattel did not sell pious garments for these hard-boiled hussies, I began to fashion little nun habits for them out of toilet paper.  In no time at all, they were the Sisters of the Immaculate Septic System, complete with rosaries made out of dental floss and my sisters and I could play “the Sound of Music to our heart’s content.   In fifth grade, I learned I could escape my mother’s horrible healthy lunches (peanut butter and bean sprout sandwiches on homemade wheat bread strong enough to shingle houses) by trading homemade doll clothes for junk food.  I once commanded the exorbitant fee of a whole bag of cheetos for a carefully tailored blue doll coat that took me three days to make. In High School, I took to sewing in self-defense when I realized my bum was not respecting the narrow imaginations of 1980’s clothing designers.  I had to figure out how to tailor my clothes so it would not look like I was shoplifting seat cushions.  When others found out I could do this, word spread to the anguished and my ministry began.

Here I am today, more than 30 years later: Still clothing the naked, disguising the buttocks, and sewing for food--though now I really LIKE bean sprouts! For an average of forty to sixty hours a week, people present me with their problems and I attempt to fix them.  Doctors hear stories of pain; Lawyers hear stories of personal injury; I get to hear about how gremlins snuck into your closet at night and shrunk all your clothes.   Time and time again, I am told that being a seamstress is “old-fashioned” that I am part of a dying breed.  That may be so but it’s not because our clothes are fitting any better.  And since most of us still wear clothes, there is an overwhelming need for people to take up this craft.  Thanks to my work, I get to see close up how most of us are not a perfect fit.  Having felt like a misfit in one way or another for most of my life, this is tremendously healing.  I am not alone. You, dear reader, aren’t either.  None of us are.  We are each slightly different, as unique as snowflakes--flakes with one leg longer, one shoulder higher, a bum with enough mass to have its own planetary magnetism,  or no bum at all, we are all in danger of being Magnificent when our clothes and lives begin to fit us better. 

It’s a gift to be a misfit.  I see it time and time again in the fitting room.  Being a misfit helps create mindfulness.  A person’s “flaw” becomes her beauty when put in the right setting.  Attention must be paid, accommodations made, reality faced.  These are good things for us humans to do.  They are the gateways to humility, compassion, and gratitude.  And Laughter, which makes everything fit better! It sometimes takes a bit of work to make things fit. That’s ok.  We deserve it.  

Be well, and do good work.

Yours aye,

Nancy