Guest Blog

Authenticity and Fashion: Things I Wish I Knew Thirty Years Later

06 Feb 2019 by Allison M. Kramer

When I was in Middle School, it felt like the emotional (and sometimes physical) equivalent of the weeping and gnashing of teeth in Hades. Each day was a nightmare and fight to survive. The only thing that gave me a reason to wake up in the morning was my closet and jewelry box.

I wore my ensembles like amour.

I didn’t think much about it, but I was expressing my creativity and offering my unique perspective of the world through fashion. My parents were wonderfully supportive of my unique choices influenced by Blossom, Beverly Hills 90210 and Nickelodeon’s Clarissa Explains it All. The early years of the 20th century’s last decade were bold, colorful and fun. I couldn’t understand why so many of my bland, NT peers weren’t into dressing like this. The layers. The patterns, the mixing and matching. The funky accessories. I wore my ensembles like armour, protecting me from those vile beige and yellow cinder block walls and linoleum flooring.

I unwittingly drew bullies.

Unbeknownst to me, my peers didn’t share my point of view. Along with my clumsy gait (I was told I walked like a duck) and obvious sensory sensitivity any time there was a fire drill, I unwittingly drew bullies like stink on s***.

I wish someone had told my parents and me about social compromise.

Hindsight is 20/20. The saying is cliche, but pithy and easy for me to remember. I wish someone had told both my parents and me about compromise. Not moral compromise, but the social compromise that would have helped me to fly under the radar a little without hiding my authenticity.

Bullies are predators by design. They look for someone - anyone to take out their insecurities and emotional pain on. Some might say that I asked for every threat, punch and body slam I got by wearing these outfits. Others might be wondering what my parents were thinking.

All I wanted was a be allowed to express myself.

My parents didn’t know about autism. Nor did they have any form of parental support. The schools wanted to get rid of me, but there wasn’t any place to send me aside from behavioral ed classes. I didn’t understand at age 11 why others couldn’t calm the hell down and mind their own business. I didn’t understand anything social. All I wanted was one friend, to be allowed to express myself and concentrate on learning so I could pass along to the next grade, one step closer to liberation. 

I tried dressing more conservatively a few times. I felt numb inside. It was like having a lobotomy performed on my spirit. I’m wondering if being abused and wanting to be accepted by any group of people makes a kid a bully, preying on whatever they can find, especially when the object of their rage carries an army green, fishnet purse.

Photo: Allyson, sporting a mullet, sunglasses, paisley sleeveless dress, motorcycle gloves and black tights with black stripes at her 17th birthday party in 1996.