I recently directed my first narrative film while wearing my pajamas. I’ve seen plenty of interviews with directors and behind-the-scenes footage, but I can’t remember ever seeing Scorsese, Spielberg, or Tarantino wearing sleep pants and slippers. While I do dress a bit more conservatively for documentary shoots, as long as I have a choice in the matter, this will be the set attire of choice.
Of course, there was some practicality in my choice of clothing. Like many spectrumfolk, I have some sensory issues and tend to blow through spoons a bit quicker when forced to dress like an “adult”. Comfort was a concern since we were working non-stop through the weekend, and quiet clothing was desired due to close quarters. Mostly, however, I just wanted to be comfortable emotionally and help the rest of the team be comfortable by being my authentic self and maintaining a playful environment on the set.
Dressing in graphic tees with funny memes or characters from Marvel movies helps me maintain a little better parity between my internal and external age. Shopping for “men’s clothes” is a borderline traumatic experience for me, and when I had to be fitted for a suit recently for an Oscar gala, I felt like a complete imposter hiding out in a man’s body. When I need clothes, I generally gravitate towards the young men’s section of department stores, sheepishly browse the Hot Topic or Spencer’s Gifts at the mall, or give up and shop online.
It seems that there is a connection between progression along heteronormative developmental timelines and age identity, but honestly I followed my southern-born script by joining the Army, getting married, and having my first kid by the time I was 21. By the time I hit my early 40’s, my kids were grown and I was over a decade into my career as a programmer. By all odds, I should be feeling my age and then some, so I largely attribute my internal youth to my neurodivergence. Many of my friends on the spectrum also have the feel of having aged on a curve, not necessarily stuck at a certain mental age, but not being generally concerned with (or consciously avoiding) “growing up”.
I’m thankful that geek culture makes it a bit easier and safer to dress down at work and surround myself with comfort items like bobbleheads, spinners and beanie babies to make it through the workday. I might lose my shit if I had to work in cubicle-land with nothing but a stapler and some paperclips to keep me company.
There are plenty of ways besides Groot t-shirts and Funko Pops to bring your external and internal age identities into balance. My mom is an avid gamer. A lot of my friends watch anime or cartoons, and read comics or YA books. Honestly, with Disney and Marvel pushing out so much content, no one really has to feel guilty for indulging their inner child a bit these days.
There are also plenty of us who find cuteness and playfulness attractive or downright sexy. There’s a certain warmth and intimacy to putting your adult away and letting your inner child fumble around a bit. I’d personally choose a cuddle party over a dance club any day of the week. 🙂