Caution for sensitive readers: this entry mentions losing a loved one.
So, I have been wearing Ivey Abitz designs for awhile now, and I have paid attention to more than the external factors of comfort, flow, fit, fabric, etc. I have noticed something internal; that is, how I feel inside when I wear a design, when I walk in it, when I relate to the world in it. I’ve given thought to something about identity and wearable art. I’ve given thought to healing and wearable art.
I’ve learned that we gather different identities through our lives. These identities are heavily influenced by people around us, the culture we live in, and the circumstances of our lives. We sometimes get stuck in an identity when it no longer fits. The bad news is, identity is fluid. The good news is, identity is fluid.
So, what does identity have to do with wearable art? What does wearable art have to do with healing? What is my own experience with all of this?
Two experiences come to mind.
My son died by his own hand at age 23. After a tumultuous adolescence, he had appeared to “settle down” and move forward. He was doing well in college, had an apartment, and our relationship was magnificently healed. The shock of his death changed all these perceptions of well being.
As fluidity would have it, my identity also abruptly changed right after his death. I have since learned that after a significant loss or change, we have to rebuild our sense of identity. “Who am I now?” Well, I figured that out pretty quickly. At that time, I was a bad mother and a failure.
That sense of myself manifested in many ways. Mostly, I tried to overcompensate to prove to people I wasn’t a bad person. Among other things, I stopped wearing clothing that was expensive, beautiful, or attracted attention to myself. Instead of honoring my grief and expressing it with dignity through “mourning attire” as people have done throughout the ages, I instead turned into an invisible frump. If I had known Cynthia Ivey Abitz at that time, I know she would have listened to me, understood me, and helped me discover and express both the fragility and strength in my grief.
The healing in all of this is the way in which I could have reframed that identity crisis; possibly from fracture to one of transformation. I know she would have worked with me to select designs, materials, fit, and embellishments so that what I wore on the outside reflected what I felt on the inside….in a loving way rather than the punishing way that I had been choosing.
There are many healing practices. I believe that the Ivey Abitz processes of listening, understanding, validating, and finally creating wearable art for personal expression is truly one of the healing arts.