Many autistic/Aspies love fitting into society and would never even entertain standing out as being different. I fall into this category most of the time. We wear plain and simple clothes, have the same hair cut over the years, and never get it coloured. We wear similar clothes to work as we do at home, and our look is very consistent.
But surprisingly, because of this, we stand out a great deal without realising. We may dress a touch to smart for everyday wear. A touch too similar for every event we go to. So we actually stand out for being too ordinary.
Then when we make even the slightest of change, such as a coat with a different colour, a brighter coloured shirt, or wearing trainers instead of shoes it stands out massively.
Then there are times when we want to be different on the outside, as we are on the inside. Being autistic/Aspie means we aren’t classified as normal in society; and we sometimes feel that we want the difference to be shown externally too.
Here are ways in which we can stand out.
One easy way to change our appearance is to change our hairstyle. It’s shocking at just how much of a difference this one thing can make.
Over the years I have gone to extremes of having my hair almost completely shaved off, to more recently over lockdown, growing it out past shoulder length. When I was younger I even had it dyed.
I tended to try these hairstyles for many reasons. But the main ones was to look a bit different and because I really struggle with going to hairdressers and getting my haircut, due to being autistic.
Some autistic/Aspies, regardless of gender, have extreme cuts like Mohicans/mohawks, perms, very short styles with bright colours such as pinks, light greens and ultra blues.
Another way to stand out is having piercings. These can be in standard places such as the ears but also in more unused places such as eyebrows, navel, tongue or nose. Or having extrovert piercings such as several piercings in the same ears or even plugs or tunnels.
Tattoos can also be used to stand out when you’re autistic/aspie. These can be in regular places such as the top of arms and back. Or anywhere on the body, even to the extreme of facial tattoos, or what’s known as full sleeves.
I’ve had a tattoo and, in my opinion, it is always best to think long and hard before getting it done, and definitely research the tattoo artist. It’s not the best time to try and make a financial savings by going to a lesser quality tattoo parlour.
It takes an extra special piece of artwork for you to like it for your whole life. What looks good when you’re young often doesn’t look very good when you get to middle age or even older. Plus it’s incredibly painful to get them removed, which is what I did with laser surgery.
But if you’ve given it proper thought over time, you’ve chosen an expert artist, and are at an adult age, then some do look really impressive.
Another good way to be more extrovert is to change clothing. It can be as simple as wearing all black. Or jeans and tops with tears. Or to the drastic end of fashion such as high platform boots with numerous buckles or outfits such as gothic, punk or emo.
Growing a Beard
As a male you could do something as simple as growing a beard. I’ve had a beard for the past few years and it has really changed my appearance. I’ve always looked a lot younger than my years. Which is mostly beneficial, but sometimes it really helps to look a bit more mature, especially in the workplace. Growing a beard really does make you look a bit older.
It can be stubble, short, full, a goatee or even really long like a yeard (which is growing a beard, without cutting it, for a full year).
If it’s something you’ve never done it is always worth trying. The hardest part is the first few weeks, whilst you and others around you are getting used to the change. Then there’s the intense itchiness at the start, which completely goes away after a short while.
Even something simple such as wearing jewellery and accessories can make you really stand out. Such as chains, large rings and bangles.
But even things like badges can make you stand out at the other end of the scale.
Standing out is never a bad thing to try, being autistic/Aspie often means we really struggle with our identity and how we best fit into society. Experimenting gives us an idea of what works and what doesn’t. If we never try, we will always wonder if it would suit our personality or not. So in most cases, especially if the changes are reversible, it’s worth giving it a test.
Of course, if you feel like it could cause you to be bullied, it might be worth trying something a little bit less extreme at first. Or doing it at an age, or place where it decreases the chances of this happening.
Being autistic/Aspie means our internal personality is only representative of one percent of society. It’s a hidden difference. It is often good, as well as confidence and self-esteem boosting, to let people visually see we different, by changing our outward appearance too. Some people will like it, others will despise of it. But it’s how you feel that counts the most. I think some approval is usually necessary for our self-esteem, but only some. Some people can change their opinions over time too, especially after the shock factor has died down.