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Advice for Holding onto Different Values When it’s Tough?

 
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I think the real issue is being good with who and what you are inside.  I say this as someone who struggles with self image.  It doesn't matter if you wear rags, a designer suit, or nothing at all, there is always going to be someone who feels the need to be unkind.  If you are comfortable with yourself, it really does not matter.  If it concerns a friend or family member,  then maybe it's time to tell them they are hurting you.  Some times we let things go because it's not that big of a deal, but after a while it builds and becomes more important than it would if we don't keep letting it go.  Anyway I hope you find a way to help yourself feel better.   One of the things I like about permies is the requirement to be kind.  Life would be so much easier if this could be a life requirement.  My Grandma always said if you can't say something nice don't say anything at all. She was a smart lady.  Good luck to you.
 
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A thought about allowing others to be different.

Good fences make good neighbors.  There are many things that come into our heads that should not come out of our mouths.

My mom always said she didn't want to listen in or hear about conversations about her.  Her thought was that people are more likely to pick apart than praise.  Why make herself unhappy, especially when unkind things are sometimes said, but not really meant.

I occasionally will have someone try to force me to agree with their position when anyone who knows me knows their position is just opposite of mine.  Rather than let us interact in a friendly manner and leave the disagreement to the side, they get their feelings hurt and their nose out of joint by forcing the issue.  I don't like bullies, either physical or verbal.

If you have a view that you are pretty sure I won't agree with, either let it lie or present your argument, briefly and calmly, listen to my response and respect the fact that we can disagree.

It's generally considered good manners not to fart in a crowd, or pick your nose and eat it.  This is because a lot of folks find these behaviors offensive, even disgusting.  If you feel a need to force a discussion that others would rather not have, you are being offensive unless it's an issue that really needs to be addressed.

People often act like this is the realm of the 'churchy' people, it isn't.  It's the realm of the rude and/or insecure.

I get really irritated when some individual in the throws of selfrighteous PCness feels the need to either lecture me on my views or behavior that have no effect on them, or flaunts some behavior of theirs that I neither need or want to know about.  Once you try to force me to agree that ' booger eating is ok', it can be hard to not let it color my view of you.
 
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This is an interesting topic.  I've always been particular about my appearance and hygiene.  My Mom used to pick on me when I was a teenager because she said I spent more time in the bathroom primping than did my sisters.  I've always been particular about my clothes and don't normally wear torn, worn, or dirty clothes.  I had to shave every day while in the Army, so now I may shave every day, or every few days, but always shave on Sunday before going to church.

I keep myself clean, but when I'm working on something I'm fine with getting as filthy, grungy, grimy as I need to get in order to get the job done.  If its hot out, I sweat until it is dripping off my shirt sleeves.  If I need to go get materials or grab something to eat, I just go do it.  That's a part of getting the job done.  When I'm finished, I clean up.  No biggie.

My wife thinks it is funny that for most things I'm particular about my clothing and appearance, but when it comes to work I wear jeans with stains, rips, and holes.  The shirts I wear are the ones that have become faded, threadbare, or have holes.  I have a hat with a very prominent sweat stain.  That's just how I'm comfortable.  I don't like to be judged on my appearance, no matter whether I'm spiffed up or in my grungy work clothes.  And since I don't like to be judged, I make a conscious effort not to judge how others dress.

Except for people who sag their pants and show off their boxers.  No need for that!  
 
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i'm a (progressive) mennonite and live in a place with lots of amish. i think about my identity within a larger community a lot, and sometimes i wonder what % of an aesthetic is affectation or just the -comfort- of being judged. If you know the enneagram, I'm a 4 that likes being different. That first impression judgement, (which is evolutionary by the way), is welcoming among your own and can be abrasive with the rest of the world.

I feel like i have a lot of expectations placed on me in a lot of settings. i'm a white male that's college educated and i come from a midwestern US upper middle class evangelical christian home. when i go to my parents church, i dress accordingly and my mennonite-ness or permie-ness is suppressed because the difference is overwhelming, but it's something else to take on when any sort of discussion or opinions arise, and they have to be given in love and with tact. a step back always has to be taken to look at myself and the other.

for some reason the amish are highly respected. Perhaps somehow the permies could embrace a new look that reflected their ideologies. I do have holes in a lot of my clothing, but i have been in the maintenance and construction work for 10 years where i'm on my knees a lot. I understand the waste not want not idea, but would it be even more ecological/energy efficient of me to use an old pair of jeans and patch holes as soon as they appear? (insert old idiom) I used to sew a lot more many years ago, but somehow i've become too busy lately. too busy is a misnomer. time is the best distributed thing in the world. perhaps we don't budget our time or stick to our budgets well. re-think our time constraints, re-think our ideologies, perhaps change clothes just a tad when we are going to socialize. these aren't terribly life changing things.

sometimes i think the dirty-hippy look is partially meant to be abrasive to mess with people. perhaps that's a good thing, but when it's accompanied by abrasive personalities, it's not very empathy inducing for the people its abrasing.
 
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James Landreth wrote:.... A lot of the criticism I’ve received has been about dressing (I dress comfortably and second hand) and other personal aesthetics. It’s hard. I don’t shave as often or neatly because of time and energy, I don’t care if clothes match, etc. ....


Hi James.
Of course what you do and what you wear is your own business, you follow your own 'taste' and values. When I tell about my way of doing things, you don't have to 'do like I do'.
First of all I want to encourage you: your values are your values; don't change in a way that's against your values, only because 'people tell you so'. Whatever you'll try to do to adapt to 'other people', there will always be some who are negative! Like it's sung 'you can't please everyone, so you've got to please yourself.'

Something about my experience: I always dress comfortably and second hand too, but I never get negative reactions, more often people I know react positive. They say things like "nice dress (or whatever piece of clothing) you're wearing! That colour fitss you very well." That's because I don't just buy any clothes, I 'go shopping' in different second hand stores to find nice items to wear. They have to be made of good quality natural materials and not be in a bad state. They don't have to look like new, a faded colour is no problem at all, but I don't want to buy clothes with holes (if I get holes later, I mend them).
Here in the Netherlands men with beards are considered fairly 'normal'. As long as the beard is clean (I mean: without stuff you ate a.a. in it) there isn't any problem. For women 'not shaving' (legs, arm pits, upper lip) is more unusual ... So I do shave now and then.
 
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Jen Fulkerson wrote:I think the real issue is being good with who and what you are inside.  I say this as someone who struggles with self image.  It doesn't matter if you wear rags, a designer suit, or nothing at all, there is always going to be someone who feels the need to be unkind.  If you are comfortable with yourself, it really does not matter.


And there is my issue. I have spent my entire life being told that who I am is defective/wrong/bad/unacceptable/whatever, makes it hard to be good about who I am. I'm comfortable with myself, I'm not comfortable with others being as I know I'm going to end up defective/wrong/bad/unacceptable/whatever.

Inge Leonora-den Ouden wrote:  I always dress comfortably and second hand too, but I never get negative reactions, more often people I know react positive. They say things like "nice dress (or whatever piece of clothing) you're wearing! That colour fits you very well." That's because I don't just buy any clothes, I 'go shopping' in different second hand stores to find nice items to wear. They have to be made of good quality natural materials and not be in a bad state. They don't have to look like new, a faded colour is no problem at all, but I don't want to buy clothes with holes (if I get holes later, I mend them).


I buy my clothes second hand and modify them, or sew them myself. I have exact colors, styles, fabrics etc that I buy, and I match my outfits. Even my grubby camo work jeans have shirts that I wear them with.

My entire wardrobe is a toolbox of personas I can hide behind, as I know that who I am is unacceptable and it's just a matter of which way I'm going to feel unaccepted today, and I dress to hide as much of it as I can.  Clothes for me are camouflage, pretending I'm anything near normal. So picking clothes to wear out the door of the house, for me, is like picking through my tools, finding the exact correct screwdriver or wrench to do the task I need to any day. The task is to be dressed for what I'm doing, and be close to appropriate enough that when I'm getting in trouble for being me, at least it's not that I look bad too. I may be grubby etc, but I have my own style, and it all matches. Insecurity vs human contact. It's a hard dance some days.

 
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James Landreth wrote:I feel like part of living this lifestyle is breaking down current values and returning to or creating new ones. One example of this is turning lawns into food (valuing life, biodiversity, food, etc more than trends and aesthetics). Another might be going out of your way to produce something for yourself “the hard way” so you don’t have to buy it and contribute to an unethical production process.

I have faced near relentless criticism for living this way. I’ve received praise too, which is nice, but another subject. A lot of the criticism I’ve received has been about dressing (I dress comfortably and second hand) and other personal aesthetics. It’s hard. I don’t shave as often or neatly because of time and energy, I don’t care if clothes match, etc. Oftentimes I brush it off and continue about my business, but lately it’s been hard not to dwell on.

What are your strategies for coping with this? Do you turn to other permies and like minded folks when things get hard?



To put it into perspective for you: the current global culture is killing the planet by turning life into profit margins.  So, why would you want to be commended by people living in that?
 
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Clothes for me are camouflage



For me too.  When I was in my early twenties and still exploring my own personal style, I learned fairly quickly that people treated me differently based on how I dressed.  I soon gave up the "free spirit" look as it attracted far too much hostility in public places from complete strangers.  Since I conformed, does this mean I gave up my values too (rhetorical question, answerable only by me).

I'm now in my late thirties and I dress conservatively.  I don't want to be approached by strange men in public;  in fact, I'd rather not be noticed at all, so I don't go out of my way to make myself attractive.  I dress like a nice, tidy person, maybe a bit boring, like someone's mother and a married woman (whether or not any of this is actually true).  It allows me to pass through society without criticism or unwanted advances.

I think young women especially, but young men too, are subject to a lot of scrutiny in their appearance.  As we get older, it's less of an issue in my opinion.  I think location matters too:  I grew up in the US, which is where I learned how to blend in.  I now live in the UK, where social standards don't seem to be as rigid;  people are still judged on appearances, but there is a wider range of what is considered "normal" I think.
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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I saw some of you talked about socks. For me the quality and material of socks is important. There has to be a large percentage of wool or cotton in them (maybe silk would be OK too, but I never saw silken socks for sale here), otherwise my feet won't feel right. And if my feet don't feel right, all of my body doesn't feel right. But I don't do much about foot care, only cutting the toe-nails short. I have many pairs of socks, so I can change them often. That might be the reason why I can do years and years with them (only mending them a few times). And of course because I walk barefoot all summer, and I wear house slippers at home and shoes outdoors. But isn't this a little off topic?
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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Pearl Sutton wrote: ...
I buy my clothes second hand and modify them, or sew them myself. I have exact colors, styles, fabrics etc that I buy, and I match my outfits. Even my grubby camo work jeans have shirts that I wear them with.

My entire wardrobe is a toolbox of personas I can hide behind, as I know that who I am is unacceptable and it's just a matter of which way I'm going to feel unaccepted today, and I dress to hide as much of it as I can.  Clothes for me are camouflage, pretending I'm anything near normal. So picking clothes to wear out the door of the house, for me, is like picking through my tools, finding the exact correct screwdriver or wrench to do the task I need to any day. The task is to be dressed for what I'm doing, and be close to appropriate enough that when I'm getting in trouble for being me, at least it's not that I look bad too. I may be grubby etc, but I have my own style, and it all matches. Insecurity vs human contact. It's a hard dance some days.


Wow, Pearl, this sounds so very much like me!
 
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G Freden wrote:I'm now in my late thirties and I dress conservatively.  I don't want to be approached by strange men in public;  in fact, I'd rather not be noticed at all, so I don't go out of my way to make myself attractive.


I hate to say it, but this is exactly me as well, just i'm a decade older. For a while I lived in places where looking different meant a security risk (i was in a place where foreigners can be worth money to kidnappers) and I got pretty good at "dressing as camouflage".
Here in Brazil I have been able to relax into my own preferences, with one exception: the wedding ring. I am by no means a stunning woman, never have been, and I'm no spring chicken. But I've had some men be very pushy/aggressive in a pursuing way with me recently. I've worked alongside men for years as peers, so I don't think twice if someone makes conversation with me in the market or the feed store. That does not mean anyone can touch any part of my body or assume I'm interested sexually, although these turkeys seemed to think just that. When I gave them the consequent verbal poke in the sternum the response was "But you're not wearing a wedding ring!!" Of course that got them a heck of a response, but after three times in a row I decided to just wear the damn ring, for blood pressure's sake.
 
Jen Fulkerson
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My aunt gave me advise once that had me rolling my eyes, so I can't believe I am going to pass it on to you.  Practice self love.  Look in the mirror and tell yourself 3 things you like about yourself.  Do this every day, and try not to repeat the same things.  
No matter what people think we are the only one's who can make us happy.  It is something we must create for ourselves.  You have value.  I don't know you, but being human I bet there are parts of you that are very good, parts you need to work on, and lot of stuff in between.  I tell my kids, and I'm going to tell you try  to recognize the good and be proud of that part.  Accept you are human and work on the parts you need to change,  without beating yourself up. The whole of life is an on going learning process so smile and try to enjoy it.
 
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Great thread, James.  Thank you for posting it.  So I have my judgmental clothing stories, too.   Like the time I was sent home from work on their announced "Casual Dress Friday" because my blouse didn't quite match my slacks.  But what I wanted to relay is my experience in San Francisco one May.  My 7-year-old daughter and I were standing at the street light when a group of about 100 men and some women marched by all naked.  A man asked me, "Aren't you going to cover your daughter's eyes?"  I said, "No, we run around nude inside our house, too."  I asked what was up?  He said that they have a march every year to maintain the right to be nude.  San Francisco allows it but there is pressure to change the ordinance.   I'm all for being free.
 
Mick Fisch
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My father in law used to pay himself on the back (reaching over his shoulder) when he did something well and quietly say 'good job, Chad, good job'.  He said he liked his efforts to be recognized, and people are a lot better at pointing out failures than good work.
 
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> clothes are tools...

Pearl, that is SO true! I don't know if you've ever thought about it this way, but that is a highly skilled, respectable and important practice you have given yourself. And to see it clearly the way you do helps people a lot - it's a good way to think about it, I believe.

And I was speaking exactly above: It's major and complex skill set. On those occasions when you decide to "come out", I bet your skill can be used in aid and enlarge your own personal expression. Me, I have always just blended without much of a thought and I have about zero sense of appearance. I can't even figure out if I like a shirt until weeks after I get it and I discover whether I actually wear it or it just sits in the closet... Much less what anybody else thinks of it. Oh well.

Awareness is good. And it's even better when you have an actual feel and knowledge of stuff.


Cheers,
Rufus
 
Pearl Sutton
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Rufus Laggren wrote:> clothes are tools...

Pearl, that is SO true! I don't know if you've ever thought about it this way, but that is a highly skilled, respectable and important practice you have given yourself. And to see it clearly the way you do helps people a lot - it's a good way to think about it, I believe.

And I was speaking exactly above: It's major and complex skill set. On those occasions when you decide to "come out", I bet your skill can be used in aid and enlarge your own personal expression.


Yes. I have been paid to make costumes, I look at them a lot like my wardrobe, and can design some really neat outfits that totally fit what a person wants to express. I look for parts of their minds that don't usually get to come out, and that's what I costume. It's fun
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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Jen Fulkerson wrote:My aunt gave me advise once that had me rolling my eyes, so I can't believe I am going to pass it on to you.  Practice self love.  Look in the mirror and tell yourself 3 things you like about yourself.  Do this every day, and try not to repeat the same things.  
No matter what people think we are the only one's who can make us happy.  It is something we must create for ourselves.  You have value.  I don't know you, but being human I bet there are parts of you that are very good, parts you need to work on, and lot of stuff in between.  I tell my kids, and I'm going to tell you try  to recognize the good and be proud of that part.  Accept you are human and work on the parts you need to change,  without beating yourself up. The whole of life is an on going learning process so smile and try to enjoy it.


So that was your aunt's advice? To find good things about yourself? That is a very good advice!
When I started to learn about the bible, one of the things I learned was: "love your neighbour like you love yourself", so you first have to love yourself! If you do not love yourself, you can not love others ...
That was an eye-opener!
 
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Self Love is important.  So is self respect.  If you don't respect and love yourself, it will definitely poison your interactions with others and spoil your happiness.  Our individual sovereignty is sacred and should be guarded carefully.  If you give it up, you feel it and begin to lose self respect, followed by a loss of self love.  Sometimes though, we are stupid in our resistance to outside pressures.  

A simple, obvious example I have seen in my own home is teenagers resisting showering.  When they were younger, they didn't need to shower as much because little kids don't produce the stink that we do after adolescence sets in.  They often don't realize they stink.  When it is pointed out, they take it as an insult and don't want to be bossed, so they don't shower and continue to stink.  Others are turned off by the smell, and they wonder why the girls don't like them.

Another was my teenaged brothers insistance on wearing 'cool' clothes.  The cool kids dressed like this, he was (or aspired to be) a cool kid, so he had to wear the uniform.  Never mind the fact that we lived in Alaska and the fashions were from California.  He just about froze to death several times during the winter to be 'cool'.  I see adults doing that all the time.

If you can find it, there is an old movie (or the book if you can find it) that illustrates this well, Cyrano De Bergerac played by Jose Ferrer (1950's).  It's a tragedy about a great man, it deals with whether you should change to 'fit in' or stand firm.

I suspect most people on this page are trying to live intentionally, (examine the whys and effectiveness of the things you do).  This is hard for me to do consistently, but I make stabs at it pretty often.  I don't believe 'the unexamined life is not worth living'.  Life is for living, it is it's own reward.  Animals are probably not given to much self examination, but I see they enjoy their lives sometimes.  I do however think that 'the unexamined life is probably full of wasted time and effort on things you don't care about'.

Most people resist change, especially change 'pushed' by someone else.  We tend to define 'who we are' in trivial, even stupid ways.  We are supposed to change and grow, even as adults. I read a while back that many people look on 'repentance' as a distasteful thing, almost as a punishment.  The greek word that we translate into repentance is a combination word.  Part of it means 'change', the other part is related to things like spirit, mind and breath.  So repentance really means something like being willing to change your mind, your spirit, even how you breath.

None of us is perfect.  Even the best of us may occasionally find themselves acting or talking in ways that should make us ashamed, or realize we are wasting our efforts.  As we realize we have a flaw, we need to try to repent (change) and find a better way.  Your not giving in, you are simply growing up.

Occasionally someone, (usually my better half) will suggest I change in some way.  My instinctive response is to reject such helpful suggestions as an attack on my sacred sovereignty or worse, an attack on my basic self.  Over the years I have become a little better at throttling down my pride and actually considering and discussing such a change.  Often I end up deciding to change (because my wife is pretty smart and doesn't make such suggestions lightly).  It is not a 'surrender' if I consider an idea suggested by someone else and decide to implement it.  I am still making the decision.  (If someone is pushy, but their idea has merit, I sometimes need to remind myself that I am making a decision, not surrendering).

Sometimes I decide not to make the change, for my own reasons.   The important thing is to examine, consider the pros and cons, and make a conscious choice.




 
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I don't actually have a knee-jerk disdain for aesthetics, so long as those aesthetics aren't rooted in classicism. My property is a purposeful wilderness, but its an attractive wilderness. My urban neighbors refer to it as my "art." I am also well groomed, well spoken, and sociable. I share my harvests. People will forgive and support all manner of eccentricity so long as you aren't behaving in a depressive, petulant and/or antisocial way. As a woman I've been raised to be hyper-conscious of how I seem or appear in every facet of life, and while I've let go of most of that conditioning, I do genuinely appreciate all forms of beauty. I think everyone could do with being held to a certain standard-- and men are allowed to cultivate a FAR greater amount of general disarray and subpar grooming than are women. Humans are a social species, and that's not an aspect of our core nature that should be held in contempt. We're meant to gather, and are unavoidably affected by those around us. Social grooming in particular is plainly evident in all other species who gather. It's about bonding.
 
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Humans are a social species, and that's not an aspect of our core nature that should be held in contempt. We're meant to gather, and are unavoidably affected by those around us. Social grooming in particular is plainly evident in all other species who gather. It's about bonding.



Jincy, I completely agree with your comment.  I've noticed most people who object to being judged have no hesitation judging others, although its usually by a slightly different set of standards.  (obviously a better set because the judger looks better in than the judgee).  I put it down to our desire to look better in our own eyes, as well as a fair dose of normal human hypocrisy (which, despite our best efforts, we tend to fall into).  

As a woman I've been raised to be hyper-conscious of how I seem or appear in every facet of life, and while I've let go of most of that conditioning, I do genuinely appreciate all forms of beauty. I think everyone could do with being held to a certain standard-- and men are allowed to cultivate a FAR greater amount of general disarray and subpar grooming than are women.  



Jincy, I agree this is definitely true in the appearance department, although after discussions with my wife and daughters, we have decided that men are held to pretty tight standards in other ways.  People are much more willing to forgive a lack of competency or ability in women than in men.  Some abilities or competencies are easily correctable, some aren't, just like physical appearance in women.  Generally, I think the men judge the men more strictly and the women judge the women more strictly.  I think we simply have different sets of standards we tend to hold each group to.  

(I read a survey a while back where some group asked what the average man wanted in appearance in a woman, it came out a few pounds lighter, but otherwise identical to the actual appearance of the average woman.  The women's standard was much more super modelish.  The men's self imposed standard was big and overmuscled, etc, while the women's desired man was pretty close to a normal guy, although with curly hair.  I attribute our very high standards for our own gender to advertising, at least in part.  No one could make money if we were all happy as we were.

Being an unemployed or marginally employed man is not the best way to gain the attention of 'desirable' women.  Today my beautiful 18 year old daughter was driving me somewhere when a guy walked past the front of the car at a stoplight wearing an odd hooded jacket with ears on the hood.  I asked my daughter about it.  She said he was a Bromie, I asked what that was, she said, at least partly joking "a man who likes my little pony, if you can call him a man."  Wow, harsh!  She is a sweet, kind, generous young woman, but in this thing she was quite comfortable judging.

We are all in competition with each other as well as in support of each other.  We generally want the most desirable mate, and men and women both go to some pretty crazy extremes in that pursuit.  We tend to compete for status too, in some pretty crazy ways.  Some folks get extreme in that area also and branch off into different specialties where they can compete more successfully. (You can be more goth, more artsy, or more green as well as better looking, richer or a better athlete).  We may decry these tendencies, but it is a basic part of our nature, maybe the dark side of our social side.  I think we've been trying to tamp this down, unsuccessfully for millennia.  We preach humility and non judgemental behavior, but as soon as we are humble, we get proud of humble we are or start judging others because they are WAY more judgemental than we are.  It's actually pretty funny in a kind of sick, pathetic way.
 
Mick Fisch
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I don't actually have a knee-jerk disdain for aesthetics, so long as those aesthetics aren't rooted in classicism. My property is a purposeful wilderness, but its an attractive wilderness. My urban neighbors refer to it as my "art." I am also well groomed, well spoken, and sociable. I share my harvests. People will forgive and support all manner of eccentricity so long as you aren't behaving in a depressive, petulant and/or antisocial way.



True words, Jency.  I've known lots of pretty eccentric people, but as long as they were sociable, reasonably groomed and well spoken, people didn't seem to have a problem with them.  It's the differences between us that make life interesting.  Willing to share a harvest is a definite plus.  There are a few people who can't stand anyone different from them.  They are not generally very interesting or much fun to be around.

As far as aesthetics, it just makes life a little nicer.  There are lots of kinds of attractive.  Some people are too locked in on one sort to see the rest.  It's a shame.  I'm not sure how much aesthetics is taught and how much is just the nature of the beast.  I remember when I was about 5, no one had to tell me my teenaged babysitter was pretty, I knew it.  I remember thinking some places were good to look at (or at least interesting) and others were ugly.  Maybe I'd picked that up by 5 years old, maybe it was just inborn.  I remember though that I thought parks were a waste of space.  Just a desert of grass, with no trees or rocks to climb on.  Maybe I was just looking for what had practical use for a 5 year old.
 
pollinator
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Pearl Sutton wrote:  The best is there's one type of older Amish or Mennonite guy, they will NOT look at me in the hardware store etc. I'm invisible. I asked someone why, she told me "you are a woman doing a man's job, that makes you an abomination."  Cool! I have never been an abomination before!! :D



Ha!  Claiming abomination status too!

Back in the 70s I saw two men quit when faced with female co-workers.  One was a newly minted Ag degree graduate.  He came to a training meeting for a USDA job and stood up and stated he didn't expect females and he would not work with them.  Left the room and the agency that day.  I wonder how his life has gone since then.  The other was a carpenter.  His wife made his life hell after the boss hired me and a friend as helpers.  We punked brick and mortar all summer, and the boss decided he didn't need to replace the guy.

There was a short-lived periodical back then called Country Women, and two poems published within that really spoke to me:

Sometimes in my dreams I still see
my Kentucky grandmother
thin, strong and hungry
holding her egg money
out to me
saying
buy land, Mary, buy land
buy land while it lasts,
they stopped making it.

- author unknown

and

I want to live to be
An outrageous old woman
Who is never accused of being
An old lady.

I want to live to have ten thousand lovers
In one love
One 70-year-long-lasting-love
There are at least
Two of me

I want to get leaner and meaner
Sharp edged
Color of the ground
Till I discorporate
From sheer joy.

by Julia Kooken

I feel fortunate to be able to live these poems to some degree.
 
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Dave Burton wrote:
Overall, I find this kind of feedback to be more of a reflection of these people's life experiences and not about me. I think it's just another way for me to learn about who these people are, what they value, and how they believe the world works (or they would like it work). It becomes a way for me to understand them, instead of just another "insult."



Hi Dave (guys) I used to also not care about how I dressed much,  and i would wear these light weight shorts that I had painted many houses in most days with a tshirt.   Splatter paint and skateboard logos etc.  

In 07 and 08 I taught English in Argentina.   Here, most people are much more poor economically than people in the USA (in general), yet they take time to dress very nicely and present themselves as professional to the world.   After being a part of that culture,  and seeing how much effort was put into self presentation,  I began to realize that dress is associated with dignity.   For them,  to show up in raggy clothes would be saying loud and clear  "my family is too poor to provide good clothing" which in turn creates shame and loss of face.  

There are good reasons to show up for yourself.   Self care is important.   How you look to others is important.

We certainly won't get any clients showing up in rags.   (If permaculture landscape installation etc were a goal)

We have this notion in the USA now where it's okay to go to the grocery store or restaurant in pj's something that is unheard of and literally would create shame for the whole family in lots of other places on the planet.  

Also now I feel more and more that Permies lacking professionalism and business acumen is a reason why our movement has not grown as quickly as it otherwise could (or should).  

Just my 2 cents.   Wear what you want.  But we cannot be angry at everyone for having more "normal" worldviews because then we as a community are building a reputation of being verbally aggressive (alongside poorly dressed)  which is feedback I hear a lot and tbh I've distanced myself from the more diehard permies because of aggressive stances like this even though I manage rain tanks and veggie gardens etc.  My more mainstream friends have repeatedly expressed feeling attacked verbally by eco conscious people and I don't think that's who we want to be as a community.  

Grateful for the dialogue,  Abrazos
 
pollinator
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What a great thread to find today. I doubt you’d get the same types of grief for being sustainable and prepared these days. Truth is, you’re even further ahead of the curve than you thought.
I have felt slights from the masses the past few years as well. After being in the medical field for twenty five years I’d had enough. Luckily we were in a place that I could get a “regular” job making very little. The differences were immediate and jarring. When you go from a pair of scrubs with a fancy title to a Lowes red vest the way people treat you changes. I’m not sure what I was expecting.
I have a feeling that after this pandemic a lot of people are going to view you guys as concurring hero's. A group of people that can grow food from the same seed every year while not dropping money on frivolous, unnecessary things.
Sure, a great many people will forget this ever happened and jump back into their old lives. However, there will be people that want to take charge of their existence and make positive changes. Where else would you go to learn but here...
 
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Clothes are 100% tools. They can open doors and keep you safe in bad places. No amount of costuming can truly pass me off as normal for long though and I am a good costumer. Anyone who goes past the surface is going to hit that solid core of odd values and morals and interests quickly. And there are certain costumes I just refuse to wear. I dislike lies, and some days it feels like betraying myself and lying. Then what? It isn't easy going against the grain. It gets pretty lonely, it hurts to hear what people think, it isn't fun feeling like an alien, like you're surrounded by all these people but you're the Weird One over There.. so I guess, just saying that to be supportive of the topic. Frustration shared.

My strategies so far...
1. Know people across all walks of life. Learn about them, then stick to areas where we're similar, there are almost always ties. Beware artists, they mix with all classes of society and are therefore the most dangerous right? 😈
2. I let people be partial friends. Let them know the parts of me that make them comfortable and just don't bring the rest up. Most people can handle a small dose of different along with a big pillar of common ground
3. I make it confident, fun, light, make it a joke they can be in on.. my wild projects become like entertainment, which same days hurts my feelings, but sometimes is so fun to be the crazy one that's always got something new going on
4. I translate my interests so they match the current "costume". Words have connotations, I can have a whole conversation about foraging with people here and never use that word. The conversation may be over quickly if I pulled out Latin names of the plants. But everyone down here does it!! They love that I do it, but if you say it wrong..you might be out.
5. I have to be honest when I'm really feeling upset by someone's repeated criticism, which is hard and vulnerable but usually they don't intend harm, maybe are just awkward themselves and if you say it from a place of caring and kindness and make it clear you want to be on great terms with them they usually respond and try to not to step on toes, if they're mean about it..then
6. Be willing to cut ties. If they really really can't be kind to me on a greasy hair day, if they have no interest in being caring about how they affect me...I mean...are they really that important in my life? Very hard to do for me, but veeerrrry crucial. Even if they end up sticking around, having the willingness to cut them out if they can't be kind means I've truly stood up for myself and proves to them I expect a certain level of respect if they come around again. Having a barrage of negativity removed from daily inputs into my system is soooo amazingly freeing!!
7. I always am open for new alliances, they can be found hiding in unlikely places, I give EVERYONE a chance. I try to never judge from their current costume, the most unlikely people have had a secret fascination with my lifestyle
8.I have a nest of just.. safe comfort things, when all that crap is too much I just hide!!! Escape, good books, good tea, snuggle blankets, crying, stress eating, cute plants, crafting tutorials, only answering the phone for safe people, eventually I wind back up at bees and nut trees and cooking experiments and a renewed sense that I'm doing right by myself and can face society again.
9. Logically I work out if their way really might be better...usually while doing number 7. Really question my own beliefs. Sometimes I really learn and grow, sometimes I end up backing myself harder because their solutions dont make any ****ing sense for my life
10. Yeah, turn to those who have the same issues for sure if I have any in my life at the time! I like reading these posts to remind myself I'm not the only one, so thanks everybody 💚

Sorry this is so long :/
 
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Fascinating. The OP started out with turning lawns into food, and producing something yourself instead of buying it. Yet so many of the replies focused more on the next paragraph, about clothing. Clothing is literally the most superficial aspect of a person (dictionary definitions of Superficial all make reference to the surface, as clothes are on the surface of the body). I get it -- people so easily judge by that when they don't know the other person -- but I am curious about being judged for having those more fundamental values.

I remember how frustrating it was when my mother bought her couple acres in the woods -- and then the bulldozer knocked half of it down to build the house and a large area of lawn. Not what she wanted, but "that's how it's done." And then the house she had sold --the new buyer, again, knocked down most of the existing trees, to make room to park trucks. I grew to hate that county, because it seemed like the defining ethos was, "If there's a tree, cut it down."
 
Rufus Laggren
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Remembering back, I think clothing had a large part to play in the responses the OP received from people in public that bothered him. Hence, much discussion about clothing. (But much discussion of lots of other stuff, also...)

When you are moved by your fundamental values, what do you do? How do you express yourself? How can anybody possibly see your fundamental values inside of you? So you "express", right? But if you talk sustainability and other stuff, but stink because you haven't washed your clothes for a month, what is anybody to make of you? It looks to me like clothing surely matters in simple basic ways and can reveal much.

Cheers,
Rufus
 
gardener
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Rufus Laggren wrote:Remembering back, I think clothing had a large part to play in the responses the OP received from people in public that bothered him. Hence, much discussion about clothing. (But much discussion of lots of other stuff, also...)

When you are moved by your fundamental values, what do you do? How do you express yourself? How can anybody possibly see your fundamental values inside of you? So you "express", right? But if you talk sustainability and other stuff, but stink because you haven't washed your clothes for a month, what is anybody to make of you? It looks to me like clothing surely matters in simple basic ways and can reveal much.

Cheers,
Rufus





I think it's an important conversation to have because part of permaculture is promoting a pivot in values and how they are expressed. I mentioned something similar in the thread I made today about working with religious groups. There I talked about turning manicured landscapes into gardens and food forests; this expresses a pivot away from prosperous fossil fuel era "lawn culture" and towards values that are more holistic.

I think that how we dress and consume is also important, just like how we use the landscape. By wearing clothes that don't match because they are available second hand, we are showing that we care about reducing, reusing, and recycling, and prioritize that above arbitrary fashion trends.
 
Rufus Laggren
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> wearing clothes that don't match... show that we care...

I guess that if one wishes to make a recognizable uniform called "Permie" there may be some sense to that. If it's halfway meaningful and strong.

I'm not at all sure ostentatiously displaying calculated poor taste and contempt for the mores and customs of the people around one qualifies that way.


Regards,
Rufus
 
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Nicole Alderman wrote:
I try not to be seen in holes or dirty clothes, not just because I don't want to be noticed, but also because I have kids. Every so often one hears the horror stories of parents loosing their kids to CPS because someone decided they were poor and unable to care for their kids. ...my kids have their play clothes, and the clothes they wear to the store and school, etc.  I just aim for looking clean, nondescript, and non-holey.


This sounds like a great balance, Nicole.  And the CPS problem in WA and OR is very real, especially if you have a nasty neighbor.  We have several friends and acquaintances who have been through this nightmare.
 
Julie Harris
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Rufus Laggren wrote:... Goodwill, the Salvation Army and the occasional chi-chi resale store.


Laughing for a couple of reasons, thank you.  For years growing up, I thought Goodwill was called Weedy-Weedy.  That's what my grandmother called it because you had to weed through things to find the good stuff.  And in our house, chichi has a completely different meaning .
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