A distinctly personal and individual experience

dirty feet
Photo courtesy of flickriver.com

Make being outside a distinctly personal and individual experience.

Outdoor sports increasingly become a lifestyle and image of their own; rock climbing and dirt bags, skiing and newschoolers. You name it, there is an image to go with it. Outside magazine recently ran an article about climbers needlessly filling the dirt bag stereotype, and it piqued my interest.

Images of the outdoor sports world will always have positive connotations to some, and negative connotations to others. Whether you fulfill an image stereotype because that is legitimately who you are, or to fulfill what others want to see, the outdoor experience should be a supremely personal experience. Dressing or acting in a certain way to please others defeats what I call the personal pleasure of being outside.

Take for example rock climbing. In the 1970’s it was a new sport, and those who engaged in it were often legitimately living off the grid and low on money. This dirt bag image, ripped clothing, dumpster diving, dirty feet and slack-lining lives on today. The difference today, some climbers spend the day eating peanut butter from a spoon only to retire to an air-conditioned trailer with a stove and lights.

I climb all the time, it’s one of my favorite things to do. When I can afford to I like hot water, clean clothes, and clean feet. Do not fill stereotypes for the sake of filling stereotypes. My point here is do what makes you comfortable, regardless of image.

This was a lesson hard learned for me, I used to worry about my ski suit size, if my feet were dirty enough to be seen at the local crag, and if eating peanut butter and jelly was cheap enough. Now, I do not care, I like clean feet, good lunch food, and my ski suit now fits just the way I want.

Dress how you want, eat what you want, and go where you like. Just make sure you do it for you, not for Rock and Ice Magazine, not for newschoolers.com, simply for the self-serving pleasure of pleasing you. Do what makes you happy, regardless of image.


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