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  • Writer's pictureBenjamin

Oh, the Vanity

My appearance has always been extremely important to me, and that has had both negative and positive effects on my life.

For my whole life, I have been extremely concerned with my appearance; to the point of spiraling into depression. Anyone who has seen me getting ready knows that I return the mirror over and over fixing minor hairs out of place, making sure clothes hung EXACTLY on my body. When I had a big ol' beard, I would constantly shape it and poke at it wherever I went. Now that I don't, I do this with my hair.

It used to be a big source of depression and negative feelings for me. If I wasn't looking at my perceived best, then I thought everyone would notice; that I would be mocked. I put very little effort into my appearance for a time, while constantly worrying about my appearance. During that depression, I truly didn't think there was point to putting in that extra effort, as I didn't expect to live past a certain point. Entering the real world, and lots of counselling really helped me come to terms with my body, and allowed me to love myself.

That doesn't mean I don't hyper-fixate on my appearance still, and a lot of this also comes from sensory issues and discomfort. If my hair isn't sitting a way that I like it, I can FEEL it, and it's all I can think about until I fix it. Call this vain, but for me fixing my hair constantly is a fidget response. This was the same when I had the beard, any hair out of place was like a needle prick on my face.

For clothes, well let's just say people don't like going clothes shopping with me! Being a plus-size man, with sensory issues, makes clothes shopping a nightmare. I have always felt bad for anyone who has ever gotten me clothes, as it is VERY rare for me to find things I can wear. (I actually have a drawer of gifted clothes because I love them, just don't like wearing them!!)

T-shirts are a big no-go for me, the fabric and weight of the shirt tends to rest on the ummm, man-titties, and causes discomfort on the chest. Button up shirts, and sweaters are the best options, as the fabric tends to rest more on the shoulders and upper back. That doesn't mean that all clothes of these types work for me. I then have to consider how tight the top is along my body; button up shirts are especially bad for being super tight in some spots, and too loose in others.

That's not all though, even if the fit is perfect, certain fabrics are just an absolute no-go either. Scratchy fabrics are obvious, but even how they're manufactured and woven can make the texture different. So even if I love one top of a certain fabric, doesn't mean that the fabric is good for others.

Pants are also a rare occurrence to find for me, I like to have a stiffer fabric for pants; but with lots of movement and stretch. Kind of an oxymoron huh? I found a lot of success recently with Flextech jeans. So I can have a nice, tight enough looking jean, but with the movement I so crave.

I have always had issues going to popular clothing stores to find clothes. Most storefronts now only carry up to an XL, and if they go higher, they skip 2XL and 3XL completely, or they're just t-shirts. Most of my success lately has been online, and honestly, at Disney Parks.

Disney parks are kind of the first bigger institution I've seen that provides really nice clothes, at a wide range of sizes. That's not to say they're perfect, a lot of nicer button-ups still only go up to XL, and the price points are... very high.

Speaking of price, that seems to be the common factor with clothing for me. I finally find an outfit that seems to have my size in mind, and it's like crazy expensive. People wonder why I have such little variety in my clothing, it's because most times I don't have that kind of money to drop on clothes!

If you have Autism, and are looking for some options for clothing, I recommend Marks Work Wearhouse website, and the WholesomeCulture website. The former is fantastic for pants, and the latter is great for tops. (The sweater I got from WholesomeCulture is so friggin comfy) I would recommend more, but the rest of my clothes are from Disney!

I hope that this was a good way to view the behind the scenes of my life, and understand why some of us with Autism have so much trouble with clothing, and our vanity!

Anyway, have a fantastic day!


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