Saturday, November 20, 2010

A Public Service Announcement

Dear General Public,

My hair colour is not natural.
My glasses, on the other hand, are indeed prescription. I need them to see properly.

To identify either of these things, it's actually(!) not necessary to grab my hair, nor attempt to poke my eyes through my glasses.
Should you still feel like it's vital knowledge for you to know one way or the other, you could simply ask me. No need to attempt to pull off the wig you think I'm wearing (it may not be my natural hair colour but it is still ATTACHED TO MY HEAD) or put a big smudge on my glasses.
I'll still probably think you're a tool if you ask if my glasses are real, but at least I'll think you're a polite tool.


Short sighted, actually blonde Nicola.

Friday, November 19, 2010

In which I incoherently ramble on the topic of fashion

Fashion, to me, is kind of like a joke. A little white lie, with its tongue firmly in its cheek. Not to be taken at face value, and not at all seriously. I can’t explain this even nearly eloquently, but I’ll make an attempt:

One day, I woke up what appeared to be a completely transformed body. I went from a sort of boyish, straight up-and-down figure, to a curvy hourglass type contraption that confused the fuck out of me. I had round curvy bits bursting out all over the place, and no matter what I did, I couldn’t hide them. I started getting honked by cars walking to school. I felt disgusted and angry at this insidious body I saw before me. My old figure was how I felt on the inside – not especially female; plain and practical. It could be anything I wanted it to be. I felt trapped in my new body – absolutely and undeniably womanly, something I really didn’t want to be, nor did I feel I was. It screamed sexuality, which was mortifying. I discovered I had no control whatsoever over what my body did, which pissed me right off.

I ended up with a rather delightful eating disorder, pretty much inevitably considering my attitude towards my body at the time (that it was like another person, constantly teasing me, that I had to shut up). My eventual and slow recovery from this relied almost entirely on my rediscovered obsession with feminism. I decided Germaine Greer and Ariel Levy were my new bf4l’s, and annoyed everyone at school with my constant rambling on the media’s representations of women, and why do we always have to be small and passive? Why can’t we own our own sexuality, why are non-orthodox female bodies so intimidating to Men In Charge? Why are women defined by their appearance and not by their minds? Society is wrong wrong wrong, blah blah blah (I won a lot of friends this way, I’m sure you can tell).

Having come out of the tunnel of I-hate-my-body-I-want-to-die and into the sunshine of my-body-is-awesome-anyone-who-disagrees-is-a-dirty-misogynist, everything seemed to be rainbows and unicorns and happy lalalalala. I decided that every day was wonderful and exciting enough to get all dressed up. I started wearing pearls and lipstick, with everything. I wore pearls and lipstick with my baggy jeans and chucks. I wore pearls and lipstick with tracksuit pants.

Maybe because this seemed slightly at odds with my feminist obsession, or because I was aware that it was just an act, or because I realised it actually suited by curvy self better, or because it just seemed like fun at the time, or because of a million other reasons I actually didn’t give any thought, I decided it would be a hilarious little inside joke if I appropriated the style of a sparkly cupcake in all my sartorial efforts; mainly because it was the opposite of how I felt inside (I guess, essentially, androgynous). So I did, and it was fun. And it confused people, and that was fun.

It still confuses people, and it’s still fun, but sometimes it does get to pissing me off. Certain aspects of my master plan definitely backfired. Hyper-feminine doesn’t seem to fit into the genderfuck universe (although hyper-masculine does, apparently). This doesn’t make any sense to me, really… maybe it’s too drag queen-esque? But it’s still playing with gender, and people’s perceptions of it.

The other main source of my angst is that, it seems, next to no one (especially the dykiest of dykes, apparently) will believe you’re not straight when you look like a porcelain doll that’s come to life. This has lead me to be a bit shirty towards the ‘gay community’, as such. You wouldn’t have thought it’d be such an ~exclusive club~, but apparently so. This might be a bit of an unfair generalisation (and it's a whole different blog post, really), but it’s something I’ve felt a lot, and it seems horribly unfair, especially coming from where it does. Just last week, I was in the city and some people were handing out fliers for the gay marriage rally today (which I’d had in my calendar for months, but now can’t go because I have to work), and they took one look at me and didn’t hand me one (despite giving them out to pretty much every other person that walked past). Ummmmm okay then??? I might want to get married one day, too, you know. But I guess perhaps I have brought this on myself.

Andrea at Strangely Incoherent Love Letters did a really great post on similar themes (fashion and femininity), which is definitely worth a read.

I feel like I haven’t explained myself anywhere near perfectly, which annoys me, but tell me dear readers;
Do you dress to accurately reflect your personality? Or are you trying to be somewhat irritatingly subversive, like me? Or do you just not give a fuck?

Recent Acquisitions

This dress is for picnics, reading books under trees, and picking strawberries.

I’ll wear this when I’m getting dinner ready to be on the table for my husband when he gets home, whilst a cherry pie cools nonchalantly on the windowsill, circa 1957.

I’ll wear this cardigan when I’m hand knitting booties in a rocking chair for my grandchildren, watching Miss Marple reruns, and drinking tea with gin.

  For when I’m a fairy princess. 

I’ll wear this to the beach, over a one piece vintage swimsuit, so I don’t get a tan.
(that’s actually not a joke)

All Alannah Hill, except the cherry cardi, which is Dangerfield.  
No, I won't be winning photographer of the year 2010...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Selling Myself

I’ve been thinking* a bit lately about working in fashion retail, and what it actually means to sell someone something. I guess this sounds fairly innocuous/pedantic, because for all intents and purposes I’m selling them a cute little party frock, or a sparkly headband, or a pair of frilly socks, and wrapping it in pink tissue, and then we both go about our days and everything is fine and dandy. But what is it that I’m really selling them? (cue dramatic music) …

Last year, at school, I remember talking to a girl in my English class who worked at Australia’s favourite nightclub young lady’s fashion emporium, Supre; about how she felt like her job as a ‘Supre Stylist’ (that’s their actual job title, apparently) was actually about selling young girls an identity, cleverly disguised as an itty bitty clubbing dress or a sparkly boob tube. In what was a rare moment of clarity for the both of us, this seemed to make perfect sense. The most common conversation she overheard at work was young girls conspiring to wear leggings under their dress (/top) before heading out in front of their parents, and then ditching them in the garden on their way out the gate. I guess the identity that one can pick up at Supre for $15 a pop is not one I closely relate to, but I suspect its greatest advantage is that it’s a popular one – popular for being popular? I’m not quite sure if that works out, but I think for young girls (okay, for everyone), being popular is being safe. Wearing what everyone else is wearing virtually guarantees you few problems: a girl wearing a Supre tshirt can’t (logically) give you shit for wearing the exact same one. You’ve bought into the same identity (“vibrant, glam and up-beat” according to their website… okay then).

So what then, in turn, am I selling when I’m peddling my wares at The Hill**? Our brand is pretty much known for one thing: uber femininity. Flowers, colours, ruffles, bows (SO MANY BOWS), sparkles, etc etc etc. And then you have the sales assistants – all dolled up, red lipstick and heels compulsory. It’s fairly obvious from the outset that we’re as much selling ourselves (or the character we’re performing) as we are selling a sequinned cardigan. This leads me to the conclusion, if I’m selling our clothes, and our clothes are absolute femininity; am I selling women their femininity? (shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit.)

If this theory holds any water at all (it possibly doesn’t), that presents a few more moral dilemmas for me to dwell over:
1.     Should a teenager be selling femininity (or whatever) to older women? (the average age of our customers being 40)
2.      Should someone who doesn’t believe in gender conformity be working in a place that is girly girly girly?
3.     Does it matter that I only started dressing like this to be ‘kind of ironic’? (forgive me, I was 16 at the time) (more on this later)

No, maybe, probably not

Does anyone else have any thoughts to share on the matter?

*An affectionate term for, lying in bed awake all night.
**Also known as Alannah Hill

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A beautiful moment if there ever was one

So yesterday, my mother and I were bitching about annoying people who make a big issue of using the word 'may'. As in, you ask a teacher "can I please go to the toilet" and they're all "well I suppose you can, if that's what you're asking" (yes, THAT MANY italics) and you're all "sigh. MAY I PLEASE GO" and they're like "of course!". Douches.


So after discussing this for at least 100 hours, my dear sister J is all "hey Nicola can I have that knife" (I'd been using to cut up my nectarine). (HOW GOOD ARE NECTARINES!)

And I'm all... "now what have we just been discussing J?"

And she's all... "can I HAVE the knife."

And then I lolled. For about 10 minutes straight, minimum.

...well, I thought it was funny.

Monday, November 15, 2010


voila, new blog.

Not entirely sure exactly what will be going in here as yet.
Most likely, a collection of my largely uncollected thoughts, plus some pictures, plus some whatever.
I have a strong spidey sense that it shall be: only okay... Which is better than just plain bad. I guess. 

Hasty and awkward introduction:
I'm (now) 19, I'm from Melbourne, I took a year off from studying this year to Discover Myself, this was largely unsuccessful. I teach gymnastics and work at The Hill. I'm allergic to most things. I love dachshunds and cheesecake and cardigans and lipstick. One day I'm going to be a science journalist, and have wiener dogs and New York baked cheesecake in abundance.