Women of the tribe

I grew up with a keen sense of not being any kind of normal female. I didn’t do pink and sparkly, or dress up as a princess, and from there I didn’t really get into makeup, heels, fashion and looking the part. It didn’t help that I was never thin enough for that kind of thing, nor attentive enough to what was ‘in’ and I wanted clothes that let me do stuff, rather than clothes to display my body, and I have weak ankles, so heels are a nightmare. Every now and then I’d try to conform to what I was seeing around me, and would mostly fail. I’m equally useless at looking smart, or elegant, for all the same reasons.

The time that many women put into their appearance, from keeping up with trends, and picking stuff out to applying it all… I have always wanted to use on other things. So I’m well read, I know a lot of songs, and so forth, but most of the time I am (as dear Professor Elemental would put it) a scruffy urchin. For people who want shiny, polished, framed and thoughtfully displayed feminine charms, I am never going to pass muster, and I’ve got to the stage in my life (and am exceedingly married) so that most of the time it doesn’t bother me at all.

On Friday I went to a sacred singing group – mostly Pagan chanting. It was a fairly even gender split. Very few women were wearing makeup – and those who were tended more towards the theatrical and playful than the overtly alluring. There were plenty of grey hairs, plenty of natural hair tones, and ways of wearing hair that made total sense to me. There were lots of colourful, expressive, practical items of clothing that made sitting on the floor perfectly sensible. Women dressed to be doing stuff, not to be looked at. Women who were very clearly comfortable about how they looked and made no apology for doing pretty much what the guys always do – wearing stuff they like, that fits the circumstances.

I was struck by how different this was as an emotional experience. I felt like I belonged. I was in no way a stand-out oddity. I didn’t seem so much a scruffy urchin in that context, more an earth woman with better ways to spend her time, like all the other earth women around me. Having a context makes so much difference. Having a tribe, and a feeling of belonging and of not being judged. I was also struck by how lovely they all were, how they all seemed innately interesting, approachable, in a way that heeled and painted women often do not, for me. I realise I am slightly intimidated by mainstream manifestations of glamour – I don’t know how to relate to the women who throw a lot of energy into painting, preening and constructing that very specific kind of beauty.

I like the other sort of beauty better, the sort that does not hide its lines or life marks, and that is not wholly about sexual identity. I take courage, encouragement and inspiration from knowing that I have a tribe, and a place where I fit.

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

11 responses to “Women of the tribe

  • Aurora J Stone

    Amen!! Preach it sister!

    I agree wholeheartedly with what you say here. I never learned all that primping and preening stuff. And even when I worked in the office of a large organisation in a big city, I wore nice trousers and my footwear was always hiking boots as I had to walk from the train to home. My husband never really paid any attention. I have a few nice things to wear, but how I live requires practical, I can wear professional practical when I need to do, but when not I dress for me, for how I feel about me. Fashion and fad are a waste of time and money as far as I’m concerned.

    Am glad you found a tribe to be comfortable in and with. A reason to celebrate.

  • Becks

    Your words have really struck a chord with me, Nimue, and it is indeed a huge relief when one finds other earth women to just ‘be’ around – that very special tribe of sisters who accept us totally for the way we are, muddy boots, windswept hair and all 🙂
    There have been many periods in my life where – as a result of whatever angst I was going through at the time – I have tried to fit in with ‘the norm’. I spent many an hour of my younger days painting and preening, and worrying about what others thought of my appearance – time, money and energy that would have been far better spent in appreciation of my own inner beauty, rather than the false impression that I created with my efforts with make-up and hair dye!
    Even though I too find those glam, well-manicured, high-heeled women intimidating, I now put my efforts into appreciating myself just as I am. Besides, I will not support a cosmetics industry that tests their products on innocent creatures! I prefer to keep cosmetics to an absolute, yet cruelty-free, minimum. I stopped dyeing my hair years ago, and now sport a rather unique but natural ash blonde-cum-grey colour. And if I choose comfort over style these days, then so be it. There is, after all, beauty in the natural look 🙂
    Bless you, Nimue xxx

  • Christopher Blackwell

    Prety siple don’t waste trying to be what you are not instead spend th time or being who you are. It is not just women who do that for I know too many men that try to be what does not fit them.

  • Little Green Footsteps

    I can relate! I keep trying and failing to blend in, then wonder why I bother. Better to be functional and comfortable 🙂 xx

  • ksfinblog

    You are very lucky to find them and belong…….. maybe you always knew that you were meant for better things than be satisfied by superficiality that is rampant in the modern world.

  • Laurie Welch

    Thank you so much for putting this experience into words. I especially liked this, “Women dressed to be doing stuff, not to be looked at” and “I didn’t seem so much a scruffy urchin in that context, more an earth woman with better ways to spend her time, like all the other earth women around me. Having a context makes so much difference.”

  • Argenta

    Same experience here! Some three weeks ago, I finally found a story-telling group, where my ideas of dressing (comfortable shoes with flowing blouses and colourful turbans) seemed hardly out of place. Not to mention they, too, are able to sit around and listen to stories for and hour or two or three, no chit-chat needed later 🙂

  • Hannah

    It’s like you’ve summed me up in a single page. When I’ve tried to explain this in the past, all I’ve received are blank stares and confused faces – I just don’t fit in with them 🙂
    I prefer to fill my time with reading, learning, singing, dancing and story-telling. Useful, practical, wholesome things.
    Thank you for sharing x

  • On Being a Scruffy Urchin | Druid Life

    […] would you take pride in being a scruffy urchin? I was asked this after the Women of the Tribe post went out. Why indeed? Pride in appearance is something we understand collectively in certain […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: