Outer layer of skin. Outer layer of clothes. The two examples that pop to my mind when I hear the phrase outer layers. Both protect. Our skin protects us from bacteria, and from excessive water loss. Clothes can protect us from extreme weather. But the outer layer of our clothes, what is most visible to others, also serves as our protection, our wall, to the world. Keeping out what we don’t want and accepting what we want.

For me, I don’t want to be noticed. I’m an introvert and prefer to hide in the corners and shadows. Because of this, my outer layer puts up a wall protecting me from excessive attention. I don’t where graphic shirts that beg strangers to read it. I don’t wear bright clothes that catch the eye. I don’t wear trendy clothes that stand out. I wear simple jeans and a t-shirt.

It has not always been this way. When I was younger, between five and fifteen I wore crazy things. I remember a pair of hot pink corduroy pants and a yellow and black houndstooth blazer and they were in constant rotation. I was still shy, but everyone noticed my sister and not me. She was the pretty one, the one that my friends gravitated to like iron shavings to a magnet. My clothes protected me from being forgotten. Who could forget the girl wearing hot pink pants?

For the next stage, I wore white t-shirts, flannel shirts, and ripped jeans. This stage coincided with the interest in boys. Boys wore the same thing and so in my mind if I wore what they wore it would protect me from being disliked. FYI, it did not work one boy in my class made fun of me.

Then, I realized to get guys I had to dress like a girl and so my wardrobe changed to stylish feminine items. I remember tank tops with girly shirts over them and wide leg pants. This new outer layer protected me from being dateless and it worked. This might have been due to maturity but not wearing a t-shirt and a flannel shirt played a part.

After marriage, I moved to what my husband called my grandma stage. I wore baggy sweaters and loose clothing. This stage came after the weight gain that arrives with marriage and age. My clothing choices protected me from ridicule from everyone seeing my increase in size. It hid my shape perfectly.

Each stage served a purpose. To protect me from what I wanted to avoid.

How does your outer layer protect you? I would love to hear your story so please share.

Outer Layers

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