Fatshion Real Talk

5 Tips For Surviving Social Awkwardness (With the Help of a Magical Outfit)

Horror Kitsch Bitch in a feminist "Grow a Pair" ovary muscle shirt by Valfré, with Mad Pax "I Scream You Scream" backpack.

As somebody who intentionally decorates my body as a means of personal expression, I really don’t expect that people won’t compliment me or make comments about something i’m wearing or displaying on my body. This kind of attention is not the reason that I do it, but it is definitely a byproduct. Sometimes it’s exhausting and requires a lot of energy to engage with somebody in a manner that is gracious and grateful, but sometimes it’s a totally rad perk that helps me navigate through the world in a way that makes my extrovert side shine much brighter than my introvert.

My personality is the kind that 90% of the time dreads and begrudges having to go to social events, but once i’m there I almost always have THE BEST TIME.

On the rare occasion that I don’t, it’s probably because the other attendees are naturally just as socially awkward and anxious as I am, and it becomes really difficult for the group to pull itself out of the collective funk.

But, over the years, something i’ve learnt is that the ice just needs to be broken, and that can happen with some snazzy little interpersonal skills i’ve been honing – some of which relate to this vessel I call a “body”. Without depending solely on the assistance of booze, glorious booze, i’m gradually getting to the point where I can empower myself to control a challenging social situation and turn it into a fabulous time – table-top dancing not required. Although definitely encouraged, if the table be sturdy and we be amongst friends.

These are some of the things that I’ve found helpful:

TIP #1

Wear something interesting. It doesn’t have to be a shirt with ovaries on it, like this amazing one from Valfré. In fact, in various situations I would almost warn against it. But something that is a talking piece will certainly be the first crack in the ice and make it heaps easier for somebody to start a conversation with you.

In addition to this, have something to say about that item (like a tidbit or a small anecdote) so that you don’t just say “thanks” and stand their awkwardly. Some of my best friends probably always hear me respond to compliments about certain pieces with more or less the same response… “cheers, I got the fabric from my nana!” or “thanks, not many people realise it’s actually ice cream cones!” (that one’s specifically in relation to this exact bag, by Mad Pax) I do this because it works and throws the conversation gods a serious bone.

TIP #2

Reciprocate the interest, but only if it is genuine! Don’t just auto-respond with “thanks, I love your (insert whatever the first thing is that catches your eye)” because that can totally come off as disingenuous: we’ve all experienced that feeling, and it’s crapola. But as well as feeling shitty, unless the other person is an exceptional conversationalist, they will also respond with “thanks” and then you’ll both be back to square one. * twiddles thumbs * In fact, you don’t even have to say you “like” anything – you could also point out things that you find “interesting” or “eye-catching” about the person OR your shared environment. If you are noticing an outfit piece, you could also pull the “where did you get it? I feel like i’ve seen it at…/my friend’s got something similar…” card.

TIP #3

Ask questions, EVEN IF YOU ALREADY KNOW THE ANSWERS. Obviously there’s a time and a place where it is more beneficial for you to appear to have all the answers, but most of the time you will totally win friends and influence people (especially peers) by letting them think that they have all the answers – and that they’ve totally helped you out of a jam. Sometimes my friends are heaps side-eyeing me when they hear me ask a question that they know I know the answer to. But 10 minutes later i’ve got TEN TIMES the original info (and usually a new friend) just because I got the ball rolling with that first question.

TIP #4

Be organised and on time so you’re not sweaty and stressing. This means – plan your outfit, plan your route, and leave extra time for disasters along the way. I know it sounds so simple and basic, but it really does make such a huge difference between turning up at an important event totally flustered, red in the face, and wide-eyed (not the fabulously mascara’d kind). I find that I have success with setting my alarm away from the bed so that I actually have to get up to turn it off.

TIP #5

Be optimistic! I know this is another “easier said than done”, but it also makes all the difference. The last 10 minutes before arriving at an event are always the worst for me – my mind starts flooding with insecurities and doubts. BUT my mum used to tell me, from a very young age; “your mind can only hold one thought at the time. If it’s not a good one, change it.” Cliché, I know. But it’s really true. Your mind might jump from thought to thought at a million miles an hour, but it still is only 1 thought at a time. So control it. Think about all those times you were totally empowered, the life of the party, the social butterfly, and looking oh so fierce! Chances are, you’re looking pretty damn fierce right now! Why not take a selfie? Message your bestie and tell them you’re on your way to the event and totally going to kill it! Fake it til you make it, baby. Pretty soon, it will feel real.

What are your go to tips for surviving scary situations and empowering yourself? I’d love to know!

Horror Kitsch Bitch in a feminist "Grow a Pair" ovary muscle shirt by Valfré, with Mad Pax "I Scream You Scream" backpack. Horror Kitsch Bitch in a feminist "Grow a Pair" ovary muscle shirt by Valfré, with Mad Pax "I Scream You Scream" backpack. Horror Kitsch Bitch in a feminist "Grow a Pair" ovary muscle shirt by Valfré, with Mad Pax "I Scream You Scream" backpack. Horror Kitsch Bitch in a feminist "Grow a Pair" ovary muscle shirt by Valfré, with Mad Pax "I Scream You Scream" backpack. Horror Kitsch Bitch in a feminist "Grow a Pair" ovary muscle shirt by Valfré, with Mad Pax "I Scream You Scream" backpack.

OUTFIT DETAILS

SHIRT: Valfré – i’m wearing an XXL which is a somewhat rare unicorn, but keep an eye out on their stock!
SKIRT: replicate of an old dress that fell apart. This dress also fell apart, so it’s now just a skirt.
BACKPACK: Mad Pax “I Scream, You Scream” – for kids, but I have it in a full size.
SHOES: thrifted
SCARF: thrifted
EARRINGS: purchased on Route 66, but similar here on Etsy

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  • final annoyance, i promise: have you ever done a post on scarf tying? all the varieties? i love your look here and yeti find it baffling and very complex how one slight move takes u from western cowgirl to rockabilly betty. video? snap? something. help a sister out. xx!!

    • You could NEVER be annoying! No I have never thought about, I guess cos I feel like a bit of a scarf noob too, most of the time. But I will flesh the idea out, and most definitely borrow the title “From Western Cowgirl to Rockabilly Betty”… Hahaha!! Thanks, my hilarious pretty!!

  • also as for tips: beyond asking questions you know the answer to (i’m the queen of this, *bats eyelashes*), it’s hella basic but always finding out how everyone knows the host of whatever gathering you’re at is 50% of conversation filler you’ll ever need. “so how do you know Brian?” yields a high odds of many stories of college or work or some funny longer story that’s perfect filler and a good way to get to know someone. It’s really obvious but such a ‘social hack’ when it comes down to it. Also, it’s fascinating to unravel the loops of how 6 degrees of friend groups all work. It’s an easy way to give everyone a chance to talk about themselves and construct themselves as they wish to be seen (e.g. “We were working at this cafe and Brian was a terrible barista!”) but also helps you gain intel on your original friend’s other friends, which ends up giving you lots of deeper connections into the fabric of their social world. Also, it’s easy and you can repeat it with 8 different ppl, unlike weather or traffic, or compliments on an outfit, it ALWAYS works because they can be boringly dressed and you’re always genuinely interested in what they might reveal.

    • This is VERY TRUE and definitely one that I employ a lot! I just kind of forgot cos I was focusing really hard on tying it into my outfit, which is what got me thinking on the topic at all in the first place. I enjoyed a convo you and another babe had on IG about how there’s also this dichotomy between wanting to be seen, and not wanting to be seen. It’s such a complex issue, I really love thinking about it. As always – thank you for your words!! xx

  • only a pale pinkie like us truly knows the horror of being red in the face and hot messed. i giggled my way through 2 readings of this (2.5 if i’m honest) and totally identify with it entirely. I’m another introvert / extrovert blend and find so much truth in the social agency a great lewk affords. xx

    • I love you so much for reading this an obscene amount, and commenting like a mofo. You are a tremendous woman! And honestly, you just gave me such a perspective shift… I DO think it’s probably worse for us pale pinkies!! I kind of just assumed that my level of uncomfortable was the same for everyone, but it’s probably not!! *dun dun DUN*