Playing Dress Up

A couple of weeks ago, I had a conversation about a specific topic, and since then the subject has come up multiple times in my personal life, and in surrounding influences/others’ lives.

I was talking with some friends about how strange it is when people attack you or put you down based on who you inherently are. Not for something you’ve done, or a particular belief or opinion, but rather the ways you’ve embraced and continually express yourself.

The initial conversation with friends began when someone was upset (annoyed?) because an ex-partner was accusing her of being superficial because she enjoys doing her hair, makeup and putting nice outfits together. I immediately related – when my last relationship ended (and I will never disrespect that person here, I’m just sharing this part of my experience), hurt feelings meant that suddenly my love for dressing up, and writing blogs (which I have done since age 15 – thankfully most have dissipated into the internet), and taking photos, etc… was just “my way of seeking attention/being high-maintenance/superficial.”

I know, I know, it’s a silly thing in the grand scheme. But it hurts. Because it isn’t about any of those awful things, and it never has been.

I spent years of my youth feeling bad about myself because I didn’t have the physical attributes of many of my peers. When I hit the ninth grade and discovered the underground music scene (which was INCREDIBLE in the late 1990’s in Wilkes-Barre!), it was one of the single most positive influences of my life. And aside from the many things being a part of that community gave me, my self esteem about how I looked finally emerged.

The older girls I looked up to were covered in tattoos and crazy vintage-inspired clothes, and were politically active, preparing to leave for college at ivy league schools, touring all over the country with bands, writing books, starting craft businesses, and organizing community events. Smart was sexy. And so was wearing what you liked and owning it.

While my style may have shifted slightly over the years (1920’s vamp, ridiculous rockabilly, etc.), I have always felt the most “myself” when expressing it outwardly. It’s fun. It makes me feel good. It has ZERO to do with gender-norms, and EVERYTHING to do with me liking it. So there.

Halloween is a silly time, and everyone has fun dressing up. But why not do that every day? In the first issue of WINK Magazine, lovely Lisa O’Brien wrote a wonderful article about the fun and self-definition that comes with dressing for yourself, whatever that means for you. And in the current issue which focuses on the theme of Costumes, Editor-in-Chief Tina Hemmerle has a wonderful feature once again driving this point home:

“…getting into costume is something we do every day of our lives, EVERY TIME WE GET DRESSED… our costume is a powerful form of non-verbal communication…

It is just plain fun to “dress up”… For me, a great way to turn a dreary day into peaches and rainbows is to wear something that will make other people smile. Even when my plan backfires and people point and scoff, I still feel good knowing I don’t blend in with the crowd. Contrary to a popular general belief, this behavior does NOT come from a need for attention, but rather a desire to express that I am not LIKE everyone else in the crowd, and that I don’t require the approval of others to maintain personal happiness. “

I suppose my point is this: Live your life in a way that feels good and true for you. How can anyone think badly of that?

And: Go out and pick up the new issue of WINK Magazine! There’s an awesome Lady Gaga-inspired photoshoot, a history of local hauntings, my article about literary character/author Halloween costumes, and much more sassiness!

(Photos in post taken from Advanced Style, a wonderful blog that chronicles the street fashion of old people, and Fashion Pirates, a truly fabulous blog by a stylish young lady – she’s only 17!! – that is equally inspiring and hilarious)

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Ketchup. (ie. Catch Up.)

I did it. I went through an entire 36 hours without even turning on my computer. I felt equal parts free and unattached but also, frankly, out of the loop. I have so many ideas for posts, but I’m going to dive back in slowly today with a completely random list of things I like right now. And if you haven’t given yourself a break in a little while, take it from me: please do. And enjoy some of these things while you do it.

1. WINK ‘zine. Those wonderful ladies on South Side Bethlehem have done it again. WINK Pinup has branched off to make a completely original, female-positive ‘zine. Articles include the significance of DIY culture, why dressing for YOU (wearing what you like despite trends and such) is an empowering, personal choice and a stroll through Home & Planet, an eco-friendly, modern homewares store in town. Oh, and I was the cover girl and centerfold! (NEVER thought I’d say that in my lifetime!) There’s a brief interview with me inside, talking about food and cooking and my attempt at makes vegetables sexy.

If you’d like a copy of WINK zine, they are floating all over South Side, or email me at savethekales@gmail.com and ask for one and I’ll mail one to you. These are FREE, and this is the first of many issues. I love you WINK. I’m winking at you right now.

2.  *EDIT: Earlier, I posted Chocolate Cheerios as a tasty, albeit unhealthy snack. It has been brought to my attention that the ingredient “D3” is made from SHEEPS WOOL (!? why is that in cereal!?). So, woopsies! And thanks to those of you who helped me out with that one. Learning is fun.

*NOTE: As I was writing the above paragraph, I meant to write “huge candy bar” but instead first wrote “hug candy bear”. The best slip-up typo ever. I feel like it perfectly illustrates the inner workings of my brain, which is 90% full of thoughts of hugging animals, all day at any given time.

3. Endangered Species Lego exhibit. I need to preface my like of this by saying at the moment it’s at the Philadelphia Zoo. And faithful readers, we know all about the unfortunate badness of zoos. But the exhibit itself is a really unique and fun, unpretentious way to bring light to the severity of animals in danger of extinction. Lego Artist Sean Kenney has made 34 endangered species made completely of legos (over 250,000 of them). The lego animals are life-size and planted around the zoo in cages (boo). But the idea is fantastic and I hope this moves to a museum!

4. The Vegan Girl’s Guide to Life: Cruelty-free Crafts, Recipes, Beauty Secrets and More by Melisser Elliot. OH MY GOODNESS. This book is not set to come out until November, but please join me in anticipation! Melisser is the Urban Housewife, more than just a fancy title she gave herself as it’s also the name of her award-winning blog. She also runs a San-Francisco vegan bakery called Sugar Beat Sweets. Since this book’s release is still far off, I can’t give a detailed review BUT based on Melisser’s general awesomeness, I know we can expect good things. Plus, she’s a cute vegan girl with a sassy haircut and tattoos. What’s not to love?

5. Animal Rights checks. Thanks to electronic billing, using paper checks has become a rarity for most people, but if you’re looking for a way to send your bill collectors a message, check out the many checks that benefit various animal- and earth-friendly organizations. Some include Farm Sanctuary, PETA, the  National Audubon Society and Greenpeace. You can see an extensive list of checks here.

6. What I Eat poster. What a great idea! I’m sure most of you know that when people find out you eat vegan, they become exasperated and baffled, followed by “What DO you eat?!” This stunning poster was made to answer that question. This is a nice sized poster, 18″x24″, and would look gorgeous hanging in your kitchen. Also, check out the budget friendly price of only $12.o0!!!   This item is for sale on Herbivore Clothing, and while you’re there check out all of the other fantastic items including t-shirts, stickers, and a wonderful book selection.

7. VegetarianStar.com. It’s a guilty pleasure to read about Hollywood gossip (Though I admit, I mostly thumb through US Weekly specifically to look at the fashion). But this is a site I feel less-guilty about. Vegetarian Star is a celebrity blog with the specific goal of highlighting veg*n celebrities and issues. It’s also inspiring to read about super rich people that are passionate about something so important! The site has recipes, videos, and all the veggie-themed celeb gossip you can handle. Read it at VegetarianStar.com

What are you really loving right now?