This is not the first time I’ve tried to write this post. It also feels kind of weird to be posting it here since I’m talking about appearances and What They Mean – and that’s more in keeping with the themes I get into on Syrens than it is to Urban Meliad. Still, let’s dive in, shall we?
Miss Sugar has a New Year New You prompt about “Glamour and You” from weeks ago and, every time I try to respond to it, I end up complaining about social expectations of body shape (I have a hips-to-waist-ratio that would make Marilyn blush but which, in the last 15-25 years has basically been on the “non-existent” list – clothes are built for nubile, boyish bodies or they’re built for post-babies brick-shaped bodies, and either way, my bone-structure is read as having disappeared with the 1950s) and how hard it is to find affordable shoes when you are (a) broke, and (b) very tall – in a “closer to 6’6″ than 5’11” by a considerable margin” kind of way. Or else I end up spending three hours drooling over boots and shoes and even socks that I can’t afford and wish that I could.
The closest thing I’ve written to adressing Glamour(y) is my NYNY Prompt Response to Things I Hate Doing, where I talked about taking the time to do makeup, shave my legs, and wear perfume (Hi, I’m Femme. Nice to meet you) in order to make myself feel more powerful and more myself and so on.
And that stuff does work. I’ve been doing it of late in an effort to rock my awesome in a way that is visible to the unknowing eye.
But trying to write a post about it – at least trying to write a post about it here rather than on my more personal, deliberately-limitted-readership, blog – always leaves me feeling like I’m being a Bad Earth Mama. Like caring about Appearances and, more to the point, wanting to present a certain Look to the world means I’m shallow and materialistic and bourgoise and self-absorbed – even when, as a totally-freelance Everything-er (model, singer, poet, pornographer, tarot-reader, crafter, event-planner, blogger, outreach-worker), I need to project “cool-and-collected” and “cool-as-in-awesome”, “sexy and mysterious” and “approachable and friendly”, ” “fey, bohemian artist” and “down-to-earth, competent” “non-threatening and accomodating” and “in-charge and calling all the shots”; Even when, in some of those situations, it’s actually part of my job-description to care about that stuff.
So. Let’s take a different tactic.
What is Glamour(y)?
Glamoury is the art and craft of making people see you the way you want them to see you. And I find that most people don’t know how to do that. Like what I was talking about, above, we get tangled up in the “personality trates” we associate with certain Looks – including the looks we already present – and the advice offered in magazines (like, haha, Glamour) are more about how to present the look Other People (“men”, “women”, various cosmetics companies, Sean John, etc) want you to look like, than getting said Other People to see you the way you want to be seen.
Meaning that there isn’t necessarily a lot of “help” out there if you don’t already know (a) how you want people to see you, (b) how that matches up with the look you’re actually presenting, and – most importantly – (c) how to get there from where you’re at.
Miss Sugar asks us “In [your] New World Order, how will you LOOK like your Best Self?”
I remember trying to figure that one out around this time of year in 2009 – when I’d been out of Retail for a year, and was reading my poetry (at open mics) around town, and was trying to figure out what My Style was when I wasn’t at my temp job.
At the time, “neo-burlesque librarian dominatrix with a side-order of all-natural fibres” was probably my best guess – and, by and large, it still is – for where to aim so that my work-a-day clothes were/are (a) me, (b) comfortable, and (c) aesthetically pleasing.
More to the point, aiming for this lets me take my “dressing like myself” clothes into an office-type environment and “look professional” while hinting strongly at my actual reality.
(You knew that was coming, didn’t you?)
But: Since I am trying to distance myself from “office environment” type work (not that I won’t take it if I need it, but a big part of the point of this Experiment, for me, is to NOT need it), I would like to be pulling my day-to-day (non-bathrobe-based) Look somewhat further into the Dita Von Teese meets leather femme meets Emilie Autumn spectrum.
And, granted, right now I feel awkward just wearing fishnets on an ordinary day. So I have a ways to go in this vein – including learning how to do my own hair in easy-but-elaborate-looking ways, finding some proabably-pinup-inspired lingerie that fits and flatters my figure, and figuring out how to add Glitter Goth to my appearance without looking like a refugee from my own early twenties – but that’s kind of where I’m aiming.
Anyway. Moving right along.
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 And wanting to drop close to a grand on the shoes, boots, and vintage-pin-up-inspired cotton dresses – not to mention perfume and potentially jewelry – that would get me to a point where presenting that look is easy – as easy as grabbing something clean out of the closet and throwing on my shoes before I leave the house.
 think of the Geek who “doesn’t care about clothes” because caring about clothes is for herd-following trendies (or whatever), but who actually cares about clothes a lot – and, as such, makes a point of wearing jeans, sneakers, and the t-shirts that announce his (or her) fanish aliegences, gaming preferences, and con history.
 I got a haircut in 2007, after not having cut my hair in more than 10 years. Every time I looked in the mirror, I’d see my actually-quite-awesome super-long-layers haircut and go “I have ‘Beyonce Hair‘. Boo.” because I felt like the look I was presenting had gone from “Obviously Pagan Countercultural Chick, Badly Disguised in Corporate Drag” (my hair had been below my waist, pre-cut) to “Gangly Chick in Ill-Fitting Suit, Trying to Redeem Bad Look with Trendy Hair”. Or similar.
 The number of pictures of me in high school where I was trying to look like this but fell so short of the mark that this cartoon looks considerably better and more put-together than I did… Oh, dear…
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Oh man do I relate to all this. Not the being super tall bit but I’m super big chested (like 38G bra size) so that’s always a fun treat trying to dress as everything I wear always looks vaguely porn-y no matter how much I try. When I’m trying to look vaguely porn-y this is awesome. When I’m trying to look like a reliable, dependable nanny, less so.
I have a bunch of stockings in my drawer that I’m trying to get up the courage to wear again. It’s been hard figuring out my style and what I want in my mostly post goth clubbing/(nonchildbirth)mother-verses-maiden body. I’m going to tear apart my closet again just to try to get closer to what I’m trying to do.
If you’re ever looking for (at least for me, ymmv) equal parts a-ha! moments and *headdesk* moments and you can stomach a lot of hetero-normativeness, French aspirational books have given me a lot of food for thought. Like, Entres-Nous and What French Women Know and that ilk (but not the depressing diet books).
Yeah. The Maiden vs Mother thing… I spent my 20s trying to do Mother because being a Maiden scared the fuck out of me. I didn’t know what it was “for”, so to speak. Being an unattached woman basically meant I didn’t have an “excuse” that would make Random Dudes “stop” sexually harassing me, so I basically went from being a child (albeit in goth-tastic clubwear) to being a Mother (with child-spouse and house-I-couldn’t-afford and so on) without going through the Maiden stage where I get to be adventurous and beholden to no-one and so-on.
So my thirties are, so far, my Maiden zone, despite the fact that my career and my home/relationship life are both taking off and getting on track with where I want them to go. It makes for a weird headspace because “maiden” probably isn’t “age appropriate” at this point. And yet, that’s what I am…