Wednesday, 30 January 2013

A1: S14 - Selfish and Proud

One thing which frustrates me beyond anything - the thing which also seemed to irritate people most about me returning to Uni as a completely changed person, is the way I choose to dress my body and my face.

I've always been a borderline insufferable drama queen and have taken boundless joy in being incessantly decadent. At the start of sixth form when I began to dress and present myself a little differently, that's when people started to actively dislike me because I chose to change the way I looked. I guess they saw me as 'choosing to look different' for the sake of being different, being fake and pretending to be something that I am not. But to me, I chose to look like what I found beautiful. Like I touched upon in my previous post, most aim to be the best person they can be, and in conjunction, most make the active effort to look as attractive as they think they can be.

But these ideas of attraction and beauty are different to every individual person. For me, my ideal beauty icons are golden age Hollywood screen icons. Marilyn Monroe, The Hepburns, Elizabeth Taylor, Marlene Dietrich, Joan Crawford, Sofia Loren, Brigitte Bardot... I could go on. This, with the indie and alternative dress sense that I fell in love with, made people hate me. But that I could deal with because I was happy with the clothes I wore and the looks I tried to emulate, because I felt inspired. Why would I want to buy carbon copies of outfits that these chain clothing stores churned out in the masses, that ten other girls would wear at the same time to the same place? When instead I go could go to a charity shop or vintage store and pick out something entirely unique, which instead of being one new clone item of a style copied by hundreds, it was one lone item with no siblings or imitators, that had been passed down and worn by countless others. I think there's no choice there at all. I am not like other people, so why should I force myself to put on the disguise of a normal human to fit in? Surely that would truly be pretending to be something I'm not.

 For me, vintage clothing encapsulates my two greatest curiosities and fascinations; art and history. When I returned here for my second year, Jasper of the Interesting Boys showed me the most spectacular place on earth. He himself being a man with a love of the well-dressed and a passion for antiquity, I feel he was exactly the kind of person I'd been searching for when I was at my impressionable state in first year, but never quite found. I'd come to Uni in first year with a pretty firm idea of the life I wanted to lead and the person I wanted to be, but I found that the friendship group and life that I quickly fell into when I arrived did not give me space to do that, and I was swallowed by this new, weird life. This place he showed me was called Fleetville Vintage Emporium.

Now I'd frequented the charity shops and vintage stores all over my town at home, but none of them could quite match up to being as incredible as this place. To this day, when they smile at me when I walk in and they know my name, it still does not cease to impress me. This is where the final incredible thing happened to me, which not only affirmed my belief in the way I look, but also that it was time for me to finally create a blog.

With the change of degree, I'd started this year with one of my film studies modules being Classic Hollywood. There's barely words to describe just how in my element I was. This sent my passion for vintage spiralling out of control, and I began to dress even more eccentrically, searching for really obscure items to start wearing, one of which, was a pair of white lace gloves. I'd just found them and bought them, and was standing in the Emporium by the tills, admiring them on my hands when I heard a voice.

"May I ask dear, how old are you?"

I looked up to see the woman behind the till surveying me.

"I'm nineteen." I smiled.

"I'm curious," She said, "How does someone as young as you become so interested in vintage? We don't get many young people in here you know."

I gave her a smile and looked down at the gloves, and I told her.

Because it's just so incredibly fascinating, isn't it? You can step inside that shop and you can feel the presence of history and life thrumming through the air like electricity. There must be thousands and thousands of dresses, coats, skirts, trousers, hats, jewellery and miscellany in there, and they all belonged to thousands of different people with different lives. They were all worn by different bodies, handed from person to person, by friends and relatives, and somehow all ended up in that one shop, right there together. Those two coats on the rail next to each other there, the one on the right may have been worn by a single mother in 1967, struggling to pay the mortgage because her diabetic husband had died in a car accident, leaving her alone and pregnant. The one on the left was worn by a sheep farmer in Bristol in 1983 who lived a humble life with his doting wife and two children in a little cottage, with a dog named Skip and a lazy cat who'd always bring in dead birds and leave them on the porch. The only times those two lives would ever cross, would be their two coats that they'd both once worn, hanging next to each other on a rail in a vintage store, fifty years in the future. Think about all the clothes you've loved and had to throw out, and just marvel at where they could be now.  There's even the possibility that that pair of trousers over there were worn at home by the firefighter the day before he was called to save a woman from a burning building, the woman of which had a daughter who had been on holiday in a lodge in the mountains with her Grandparents at the time, the Grandparents of which had given the little girl a beautiful crystal hair clip for her birthday, which was now resting on the table in the vintage emporium next to the rack of trousers which held the pair worn by the firefighter. Stuff like that just makes me want to scream because the thought of it is just so outrageous.

 And the gloves. The label said they were from 1952. These gloves may have seen the world. These gloves could've held the hands of a schoolgirl, a midwife, a butchers daughter, a princess, a homeless person, a grandmother, a famous writer, a president's wife. These gloves could've done all manner of things, could've bared witness to infinite writing and words crafted at their tips, could've shaken hands with the most exciting and mundane people on the planet. These gloves could've been worn when that woman put her hand out for a taxi cab that would've changed her life but never stopped, the hand that pulled the trigger on a gun that killed a man, the hand that brushed the hair of the terminally ill child for the very last time. And the best bit about it all, is that I'll never know. Somehow, since 1952, these gloves have been on an incredible adventure, inevitably destined for my hands one day. What has happened in the meantime, will forever remain a mystery, and that is just the most exciting thing in the world for me.

When I finished telling the woman these reasons, she just stared at me for a bit. I gave a shy smile and then she said, "Do you have a blog?" I said no. "Oh, well it's just that I'd love to read more about the way you think about things." And there. That was it. I went home that night and started to create Scarphelia.

And that's why I'll never be ashamed to wear what I choose to wear. The way I dress my face has been an issue too. I remember at a party at the start of this year, I'd gotten upset about something and was having a heart to heart with one of my male friends, which for reasonable reasons because of reasons, I shall name Daniel.

After I'd opened up to him, he'd said to me, "There we go. I don't think I've ever seen you this vulnerable, Kate. See behind all that pretense and all this outer shell, there's the real you." I frowned at me. "I can see it. You feel the need to always put on this performance, put on this show for other people. But I know the real you, inside, you're just insecure so you feel the need to over-compensate on the outside. Kate, you don't need to wear all this makeup and put all this on for other people, you're beautiful without it. You don't have to pretend all the time. It'd be nice to see the real Katie sometime."

I know he didn't mean it as antagonistic and I'm sure his sentiments were nothing but with my best interests in mind, but I just wanted to throw my hands up and sigh. Just another person who didn't get it.

The idea that I'd go to that much effort to pretend to other people all the time was not only preposterous but also offensive. I dress the way I do because I so admire the people who dress like this, and I have a passion for the nostalgia of it. I like the style so I emulate it - it's not pretending, it's being inspired. And as for the makeup, perhaps I would look 'prettier' if I wore less or did it a little differently, but am I seriously going to consider changing the way that I am currently so happy with looking, just so other people will find me 'prettier'? I found it almost laughable. All these people tell me that I give off the impression of trying to be something I am not, and I'm trying too hard and I should wear less makeup and less crazy clothes to be more natural and to be more myself. Well, that's just one big paradox. To make other people happy I should stop being myself and change the way I look because right now I'm changing the way I look, which means I'm not being myself. Ha.

So you know what, yeah I do wear a lot of makeup, yeah I do dress a little eccentrically, but yeah, I am supersonically, astronomically happy with all of it because by the looks of things. So, I've decided that people can sit there and tell me I shouldn't present myself in such a way, and I'm just going to shout "YEAH? WELL WELCOME TO SCARPHELIA, BITCH."


Fuck yeah.

Scarlet-Ophelia.