Identity: Big City vs Small Town

Long story short? My baby is almost 10 months. The days of getting around in nursing tops are gradually coming to an end. I want bras, shoes, and clothes that fit my mumbod and make me feel like an urban-chic badass. Online shopping is a sucky minefield. Currently seeking sponsorship for an all-expenses-paid city shopping spree.

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This is what happens when you wake up in the early hours and have to pee. You wake up, do the deed, re-settle the baby, and climb back in to bed. Unfortunately by that time your mind thinks it’s time to start work for the day and kicks in to gear. Thankfully this doesn’t happen often for me but here I am with a brain full and I believe I might have actually processed some feelings I’ve been having for a while. Here goes.

I’m from a big city. I grew up in one and even lived right in its heart. I’m used to options and variety and convenience, especially when it comes to shopping and eating. Yes it sounds frivolous but those are two of my favourite activities. My mum is my partner in crime and we have had some really great times over the years shopping and eating, usually one followed by the other. When I chose to move to a smaller regional town with my then-boyfriend (now hubby) I knew it would be more limited and I accepted that. I thought ‘hey, I might even save some money living away from all that!’. Yeah nah. Online shopping is definitely a thing. What I didn’t realise is how an important part of my identity was tied up in all this. No, I don’t live to shop as per the usual stereotypes, I’m getting at something a little different here.

What we choose to wear is a representation of who we are and our identity. Well, that’s what I believe anyway. A very crude and basic example of this would be a goth wearing all black or a businessman always dressing in a suit. How we choose to look every day gives everyone else clues to our lifestyle and interests. Ever seen that show Naked Attraction? It literally strips those cues away and forces an almost blind choice just based on the appearance of the bare naked body. When the contestants reunite for their date fully clothed all of a sudden they get a fuller picture of their date’s personal identity and it allows a more informed decision to be made about whether or not they are compatible.

So back to what I was trying to get at. Part of my identity is expressed in my personal style. Nothing outrageous or crazy, I mostly shop a couple of chain stores and some labels that I like the fit of or their particular aesthetic. I feel most comfortable in a kind of ‘urban dress-casual with a sporty or grungy edge’. Whatever the hell that is. Usually jeans and sneakers with a basic top and killer jacket. Or comfy pants and sneakers with a denim jacket. Elasticated waists are life. So when I became pregnant and then entered that postpartum phase of life suddenly my existing wardrobe was a no-go. My feet grew in size, both length and width. Most of my shoe collection has been wiped out. Some of the tools I used to express myself with were suddenly unavailable to me. Old faithfuls were suddenly strangers to my swollen breastfeeding boobs, or enemies to the little mum-tum pooch of skin that suddenly sat on top of waistbands.

Nothing screams ‘new mum’ more than trackpants and feeding tops, it’s all that might fit for a while. I think for the first 6-12 months you get a pass here. As you head toward the end of the first year it gets a bit more normal. For me the baby weight gradually dropped off and now I can get in to most of my wardrobe again. I’m getting used to this new phase of life but I want to be identified as more than just someone’s mum. I want to feel good and be myself (providing I can find that) and part of that is being comfortable in what I’m wearing, both physically and mentally. It gives me confidence. So when I can’t find a damn bra to wear that isn’t a heavy duty feeding sports bra then I get frustrated. When I can’t find a pair of jeans that fit in any shop here I get frustrated. I know they exist. Just not in any shop in my current town. My body is now slightly different. Don’t get me wrong here, I love my body and it has done some amazing things. It’s just ever so slightly a different shape and things fit a little differently. Enough that I can’t trust buying things online, whether it’s from a brand I know or one I’m not familiar with. ESPECIALLY not jeans or bras. Two of the most difficult items to shop for, for me anyway. I just need to try things on, get reacquainted and explore a little.

My main point and the reason behind this whole random gripey post is this: I can’t do that where I currently live. There is very little variety. There are a few usual chain stores, a couple of surf stores, and a couple of high street stores. There are a few boutique stores too that stock a variety of brands but only very small selections of the full range. They are also overpriced compared to buying online, just a fact when it comes to small town brick and mortar stores.

Part of my personal style is trying to find something just a little bit different. Something with an edge or that will go with something else that does. Something good quality, comfortable, that will last well. You can find some good pieces at the chain stores but you can usually only tick off a couple of those boxes, not all of them. Max is my saving grace here but when the shopping pickings are slim you tend to see the same outfits walking around town quite often. I don’t want to look like everyone else. I miss variety. When you get a larger population (+1 million compared to 50,000) then the spectrum is much broader. You see a huge range of people with very diverse styles. You can spot something you love and ask “where did you get that” and find something new all the time.

I wouldn’t be where I am today in my own house with my husband and family if I didn’t leave the city and I am happy here, but I do really miss the variety. It kept my mind open. It constantly reminded me that the world was so much bigger that what I saw every day. It taught me to appreciate and respect the choices that other people made about how to express themselves and their own identity. You wanna cut holes in your jeans and tie ribbons on them? Go for it. You wanna wear a blue velvet shirt with matching loafers? You do you. If you feel like your outfit would just be made with a pair of navy flats or pink stilettos or you want a pair of Chuck Taylors with comic books on them or glitter Doc Martins then you could find them. Not only that but you could find more than one. You want Batman Chucks? More of a Wolverine fan? The Flash?

Long story short? My baby is almost 10 months. The days of getting around in nursing tops are gradually coming to an end. Call me shallow, I care about my clothes. I want bras, shoes, and clothes that fit my mumbod and make me feel like an urban-chic badass. Online shopping is a sucky minefield. Currently seeking sponsorship for an all-expenses-paid city shopping spree.

Trivial first world problem shitpost complete. I’m going back to sleep.

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