bucolic born and bred

I have lived in big bad Burlington for two years now, but I doubt I’ll ever really get used to streetlights’ glare and trucks growling by. I grew up on a dead-end dirt road in a town barely deserving to be called such, and I routinely find myself impressed by such mundanities as wireless internet and indoor plumbing. Sometimes I need the country air.

floral boho I

This porch, like most of the rest of the house, was built by my dad. It looks out onto ten acres of woods.

floral boho III

This dress is so luxuriously soft and airy that to pair it with shoes would disgrace the effect. I could sleep in it quite comfortably. That said, I’m on the fence about whether to take it in a little. I feel gorgeously ethereal in it, but I’m not sure I like how much the waistline pleats just below the belt. I don’t want to compromise the drape of the shoulders, though, which I like quite a bit. I’ll tinker with some safety pins later.

I feel romantic in the best way. I want to frolic across a dusky meadow and into Josh’s gauntlet-clad arms.

floral boho II

I love how pink my hair looks in this light!

floral boho IV

floral boho V

floral boho IX

floral boho VIII

floral boho XI

floral boho X

floral boho VI

Dress: Battery Street Jeans Belt: Old Gold Hat: The Classy Closet Necklace: Gifted

Speaking of home, I thought I’d share a few shots of my bedroom. I lived in that room full-time until college, and even though it’s been downgraded to part-time for the last two years, it’s still the place I sleep the very best.

room I

It’s hectic and fluorescent and cheerfully morbid. It’s my haunted walk-in closet.

In the corner of the frame is my friend Lisle, trying to get internet on his iPod.

room II

I don’t have a bed. I have a nest.

room III

room IV

Maleficent is my favorite fictional character of all time.

room V

room VI

room VII

The view from my window. I’m not even joking.

room VIII

~

Josh got a sword cane this past weekend. He then dressed himself to the tens and begged me to take pictures of him. I happily complied – hello, LOOK at the man. Unf. (Mine.)

Also, he brought the sword cane to bed with us. I don’t know how to feel about that.

sword cane IV-2

hating your body in ten easy steps: an affectionate fuck-you

If you’ve been reading for a while, you know exactly how I feel, words thoroughly unminced, about What Not to Wear. To recap for those too lazy or busy to click the link: while the show is a decent beginners’ guide for women with no sense of style, Stacey and Clinton have an ugly tendency to eviscerate the unconventional for not subscribing to their exact brand of mediocrity. The episode that inspired me to write the screed linked above featured the upbraiding of a steampunk woman for “dressing like she didn’t have the right to vote” and (OSIRIS FORBID) “making people uncomfortable”.

So when I spotted the What Not to Wear handbook during a library crawl last week, I thought it might make splendid fodder for a good ol’-fashioned hate read. I have a serious weakness for anger porn: I browse forums I know are going to piss me off and troll until the heartburn rises and I have to take a walk around the block to cool down. It’s not the healthiest of habits, but occasionally an actual well-constructed essay rises from the bilious tirades. What I’m trying to say is: I thought I’d give this book a whirl for y’all.

The print version of What Not to Wear is written not by Stacey and Clinton but by Trinny and Susannah, who host the show’s British version. I remember liking them better than Stacey and Clinton as a kid, and, after reading their book, I still do. I find them just as sartorially misguided, but their prose style is genially, not gratingly, harsh. They have a hyperbolic humor about them that’s a damn sight more appealing than Stacey’s sneering condescension: Susannah describes her own fashion sense as “vestal virgin meets King’s Cross crack-crazed hooker”. They’re similarly ruthless in their dissection of others’ styles, but at least they, unlike Stacey and Clinton, seem like a fun pair to have a pint with.

That said, no amount of wit can mitigate their dubious (at best) advice. What Not to Wear and media of its ilk embody the “minimize all deviations” fashion philosophy. I’ll quote Cliff Pervocracy again, because she just sums it up so damn well:

Big breasts need to be strapped down, small ones need to be propped up. If your ass is round draw attention upward, if your ass is flat draw attention downward. Short women need to look taller and tall women need to look shorter. Dammit, ladies, you’ve got to be average!

(Her whole piece, by the way, is so very on point and I can’t recommend it enough.)

The book is divided into ten sections, each addressing a different physical “flaw” and how best to camouflage it. I get through the table of contents, and right away I’m rubbed wrong. Look, I understand that many people suffer from bodily insecurities. I would never tell anyone to just “get over it”; I know just how pervasive those kinds of fears can be. But What Not to Wear is so damn fatalist about it: “you’ll never like your body, so you might as well learn to hide it” seems to be the general ethos of the book. Wouldn’t we be better off acknowledging insecurity but working to overcome it? I’d rather see less “here’s how to hide your flaws” and more “here’s how to stop seeing your God/evolution/Xenu/whatever-given parts as flaws in the first place”.

The advice they give (charmers like like “fat arms must always wear sleeves” and “skintight on a skinny top half isn’t sexy, it’s a disappointment”) isn’t bad for the truly insecure. I’m not denying that minimizing parts you’re not so fond of can be truly beneficial to some. But I resent the equation of “flawed” with “insecure”. Maybe you love showing off your fat arms. Maybe you think your skinny chest is sexy as all get out. Or maybe you’ve got toned triceps and perfect C-cups but find yourself sartorially timid even so – gee whiz, it’s almost like body image is a mental state and not actually dependent on your looks!

I don’t find anything wrong with saying “cover your arms if doing so makes you feel better” – but I find a whole lot wrong with “if you have fat arms, you must be so haplessly insecure that you need all the help you can get”. The whole thing implies that feeling comfortable in your body is inextricably bound to how your body actually looks, which is horseshit. It implies that you’ll never be truly secure without attaining “perfection”, so you might as well just fake it.

I’m not content with “dressing to show off what [I] love and hiding what [I] loathe about my body”, as the introduction advises. I reject the idea that women should “loathe” their fat arms and skinny chests at all. I resent anyone telling me what parts of my own damn self are worth appreciating. I’m gonna love the whole damn thing enough to show it off.

I am a curvy woman. I am five-foot five-and-a-half inches tall and I weigh 155 pounds. (I feel like Jim Carrey haunted by the number 23.) I wear a D cup; my dress size falls anywhere from 6 to 12. My inseam is 28 inches, part of the reason I rarely wear pants. I have strong bones and thick hips and a handful of belly. I have enormous feet and thick ankles, and most attractive shoes are out of my reach, thanks to the bone disorder I’ve had since childhood. According to Trinny and Susannah, I fall under the categories “big boobs”, “big arms”, “big butt”, “short legs”, “flabby tummy”, “saddlebags, and “thick ankles & calves”. Here are some of the many, many rules they’ve decided I should follow:

Fat arms must always wear sleeves.

A big butt in an A-line skirt balloons the fabric out at the back, making it look enormous in comparison with legs. Looks like a pregnant tummy in reverse.

Never wear jackets that end at the butt.

No cropped tops, even on baby fat.

Never wear jackets to the hip as you will only accentuate your thunder thighs.

Coats are better than jackets [for saddlebags].

Never encircle the ankle – a strap should only be seen below.

Never wear three-quarter-length dresses or skirts (for thick ankles).

In today’s outfit post, watch as I gleefully break each and every one of those rules.

crop VI

Gasp! A crop top AND a jacket that ends at the butt!

crop II

crop I

An A-line skirt? What is this world coming to?!

And I’m so terribly sorry I made you look at my flabby sausage arms.

crop IV

crop VII

Oh, does this skull make you uncomfortable?

crop VIII

I’m sure there are rules about hairy bellies, too.

crop X

crop XI

crop XII

How many lashes d’you think these ankle straps will earn me?

crop XIII

crop IX

pink hair don’t care

crop III

crop experimental

Sometimes I understand why people hate fashion. It’s art, absolutely, but it’s the only art whose modern application seems to be built on telling you all the ways you’re Less Than. I’m not defending that. Instead, I want to show the world all the things fashion can be. It’s color and texture and mood and artifice and semiotics and theater. It’s a deliberately constructed universe, no thread out of place. It’s human beings as goddamn walking canvases. What other art has that kind of potential?

Crop Top: Charlotte Russe Skirt: Dirt Chic Blazer: Goodwill Belt: Handed down from Mom Jewelry, Tights, & Shoes: Gifted

i never claimed not to be a narcissist

I’m aware that this is probably the least beachy setting possible, save for, y’know, a hole in the ground. But as I won’t be going to the beach anytime soon (a miserable confluence of fresh tattoo and 60-degree weather) and I wanted to take advantage of this design while it was fresh in my mind, you’ll just have to ignore the sadly lacking backdrop.

To make up for it, I’m bringing you a little pedagogy with your morning coffee.

I don’t care if you don’t want to see my body, or if my attitude toward it offends you somehow. My body doesn’t exist for you, and I’m actually side-eyeing you pretty hard for even considering that it might. I’m not going to present these photos with some subservient caveat like “it takes a lot for me to post these – hope you enjoy them!” Many women do struggle with body image to the point where exposure becomes taxing. I don’t mean to belittle them and their perspectives, but I abhor the extent to which such long-suffering narratives have become expected. Like you’re not allowed to think you’re hot without couching it in a billion layers of timidity: “it’s okay, I didn’t always think I was hot! and I’m not even sure I think I’m so hot now (please tell me I’m hot)!”

Girls who post bikini photos have to prove they’re “real women”. They have to be Just Like Us. They have to lay bare all their private insecurities and squishy moments of self-doubt lest they be mistaken for arrogant, a “bad role model”, or, Cernunnos forbid, a Slut. Revel in your own flesh a little too much, and suddenly you’re a brazen whore who needs to be taken down a peg. You’d better prove that you don’t really think you’re all that. I’ve always hated the cult of the Real Woman (you know how to be a real woman? Identify as female. There, you’re done.), and I hate it particularly for the way it invites hostility toward anyone who isn’t sufficiently humble, who doesn’t bashfully divert attention from her flaws, as though confidence were finite and one woman’s self-esteem another’s crippling depression.

I understand the root of this, I really do. But I think the process of nudging shy girls out of their shells has created a narrative of its own. The “before and after”. The Everywoman. “Stars: They’re Just Like Us!” I begrudgingly admit that I page through the tabloids in line at Price Chopper. I want to punch something every time I see an interview question like “what’s your biggest body insecurity?” We can’t leave beauty well enough alone: we have to dissect it until we’ve been satisfied that it’s all smoke and mirrors, that any given woman has earned her confidence with enough worship at the altar of self-hate. Would we, as a society, know what to do with a woman who answered “I have none. I’m fucking hot.” It would be goddamn open season: “who does she think she is? She thinks she’s better than the rest of us? How does she expect us to relate to her?”

In the societal quest for “relatability”, we’ve forgotten that women have a right to be related to on their own terms, or maybe not to be related to at all. I don’t want to prove that I am One Of You for my appreciation of my body to be validated. As narratives of women’s bodies go, “gawky caterpillar earns her wings” is not a bad one. But mandating it, imposing any strict vision of how women are supposed to feel about themselves, or about anything, helps exactly no one. All it does is reinforce the notion of female bodies as public property, which I refuse to stand for. “Unapproachable”, “unrelatable”, and “bad role model” are all too often code for “woman who runs her own goddamn life”. Fuck approachability. Did I authorize you to approach me?

Maybe you think you’re a feminist. But if you think a woman, by virtue of her sex, owes the world any public obligation than to be exactly who she chooses to be, then you sure as hell aren’t one in my book.

So I woke up feeling political. Sue me. Except please don’t, because our tort system is frivolous enough already.

*or man. I acknowledge that men are also shamed, often for different and equally complex reasons, and I don’t consider this issue “men vs. women”. It’s more “individuals vs. societal expectations”.

bikini X

Okay. I’m done complaining. Time to bask in my glitz and glamour.

bikini I

 bikini V
bikini VI
bikini IX
bikini XI
bikini XII
bikini XIII
bikini XIV
bikini XVI
It’s Latin for “nothing to fear”.
bikini XVII
I maaaay have bought this suit for the explicit purpose of showing off my ink. I am gothabilly to the absinthe-dripping core.
Bikini ($10!) & Pink Scarf: JCPenney Gold Bangles: Urban Outfitters Brooch (on head scarf) & Green Necklace: Old Gold Polka-Dot Blouse & Green Scarf: Battery Street Jeans

meth and moonshine

I nurse a great fondness for psychobilly and gothabilly. Combining spooky Americana with retro silhouettes and histrionic brights is how I feel most myself. (Y’all knew that already, though. Skulls and shirtwaists forever!)

Today I’m taking a cue from o’death, my favorite psychobilly band. Quoth Pitchfork:

It’s like rural Appalachia, were hillbillies to exchange moonshine for meth.

This is what I would wear if I ever (knock on wood) saw them in concert.

fairy punk IV

A couple of months ago I waxed lyrical about how much I love artifice and hyperdeliberation. And I still do – I probably always will – but lately I like my constructs slightly unhinged. There’s a richness in the product of just playing and seeing what happens. Maybe it comes from school being over and me spending more time at my parents’ house in supremely rural Nowhere. I love the idea of my overdressed self against the background of dusty trees and sky too blue for words.

To put it less pretentiously: I enjoy feeling like the wild, witchy mountain girl I sometimes forget I am. Someone who dyes her hair pink and worships trees and apologizes for neither. Rooted simultaneously in the material and the spiritual. Theatrical but grounded. That’s the essence of my kind of gothabilly.

fairy punk III

fairy punk V

fairy punk I

fairy punk II

Too cool for shoes.

fairy punk VI

fairy punk IX

fairy punk VIII

fairy punk XI

fairy punk X

I’ve had this dress since I was fifteen. It’s the shorter, pinker counterpart of my beloved fairy dress. Until today, I’d worn it only once: to Winter Ball my junior year of high school. It was long overdue for a comeback.

Dress, Prayer Beads, & Skull Necklace: Gifted Pink Necklace: Old Gold Floral Vest: Downtown Threads Hat & Tan Vest: Battery Street Jeans

barefoot and very much not pregnant

Last night Boyfriend and I had an art marathon, during which he made several steampunk weapons and I modified three blouses and a dress. Today’s post features the first of the modified blouses. I bought it several months ago for its potential (I do love fixer-upper clothes), but hadn’t gotten around to making it wearable until last night. The sleeves were utterly shapeless, so I cut them off and made a head scarf.

green dots VII

My favorite colors of late are bright pink and lime green.

green dots I

I decided not to hem the sleeves. I like them a little ragged.

green dots XV

I like the theme these photos suggest: my ’50s-housewife garb against the background of dirty dishes.

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green dots X

green dots IX

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green dots III

My hair is magenta again. It feels so right. Pink is my natural hair color.

green dots IV

green dots V

green dots II

I’ve always loved old-fashioned hyperfemme looks accented with visible tattoos.

Blouse: Battery Street Jeans Brooch (on scarf), Necklace, and Belt: Old Gold Skirt: Richmond Food Shelf and Thrift Store