Archive for the ‘Geek Chic’ Category

We are made up of layers, cells, constellations.

Saturday, September 5th, 2009

I was sincerely hoping to keep this column as light-hearted and humorous as possible but today on the women’s online magazine, Jezebel, I read something that made me somewhat introspective.

It’s a review of Youth Knows No Pain, a documentary by Mitch McCabe which just recently premiered on HBO. I won’t rehash the topics the excellent Latoya Peterson writes about in her post which can be found here:Youth Knows No Pain: An Unflinching Look At Our Fear of Aging.

Go ahead and read that sucker. Watch all of the clips too. Go on. I’ll wait.

Ok. So who feels completely doomed? If you grew up with any kind of ideal of growing old naturally and gracefully while achieving the respect of the younger generations coming to age in your shadow then these confessionals just delivered a hefty kick in the goolies, didn’t it? 

Now I didn’t go to real school and obtain any kind of human behavior/sociology degree but it doesn’t take a research grant to figure out that the current culture values extreme youth above all else. All of the TV, the movies, the clothes are geared exclusively to the under thirty set. And that’s awful. It’s not right. It simply isn’t right that a persons relevancy and usefulness is supposedly expired after the age of  thirty. I promised Diana, my most esteemed editor, that I wouldn’t swear very much in subsequent posts but there is a succinct word for our media cultures removal of  forty and fifty and sixty somethings from the public eye. That word isbullshit.

As an only child I grew up surrounded by adults. They were what I built the foundation of my identity on. Like most nerds I had nothing but scorn for and from people in my own age group and so growing older was my holy grail. I looked to the older generation with admiration and figured that if I could just reach some magic age (Say, thirty and up.) all of the fear and anxiety of youth would melt away. I looked at my parents and their friends and saw them through a rose colored lens. The adult set wasn’t worried about their looks or whether or not the boy on the soccer team liked them. They had actual important things to deal with.

Youth Knows No Pain strips that idea bare and leaves it raw and bleeding. The narrator and filmmaker McCabe is only 38 but reveal in the course of the film that she is fully willing to give up health care before giving up her monthly hair color treatments to remove the gray. 

“It’s insane.” she says. “But it’s true.”

My idealism of aging having been irrevocably, starkly shaken I did what I always do. Called my mother. A woman in her early fifties she has always been uniquely fashionable, put together and sharp as a tack. In other words the most relevant older woman in my life. I needed her perspective.

“It sounds like some of these women are going to extremes but I can understand the urge.” My mother said coolly over the phone when I told her about the documentary. “I’ve noticed as I’ve gotten older most young people don’t even look at us.”

What?”

“Oh, Yeah.” She replied. “And shopping for good looking clothes gets harder. Why do you think women my age were so happy when stores like Stein Mart and Chico’s? Retailers really neglect the middle age market.”

“But all of the plastic surgery these women are getting? I can’t imagine doing that to myself! I mean, everyone gets self conscious but at the end of the day your body is your body and there isn’t really that much wrong with it…” I pressed on.

Mom cut me off. “Yes, but you’re saying this at the age of twenty five.”

That right there shut me up. She continued.

“Getting older isn’t easy. Just like being young isn’t easy. When you get to be my age you have to deal with changes and the idea of mortality that just aren’t as pressing at your age. And with the way the media is right now it’s hard to resist the line of thinking that just looking younger will make those problems go away.”

I got off the phone with my mom an hour later and went to stand in front of the mirror. I thought about what I would change if I could at the snap of the fingers. Other than super sharp robot eyes to correct my terrible vision (and maybe that shot lasers) really nothing.

Then I thought about what my body would look like thirty years from now. The wrinkles on my face? That didn’t seem so bad… Losing muscle definition? Not awful either…

Then I looked at my super rad C-cup breasts and imagined them down at my knees. My breasts that had become something I was affectionately known for among my friends and lovers and realized something.

That when that day comes and I could afford the surgery I would totally get those sucker stapled back up to the same place on my ribcage they were at when I was in my twenties. I would be 80 years old with deep laugh lines around the eyes and mouth and short feathered gray hair and yet have the perkiest tits. All because it’s a facet of my physical appearance I just can’t let go of.

It’s insane but it’s true. For that I’d go under the knife.

Still, there are people who see the brighter side of things. That getting older isn’t a slide into obscurity at all. So I leave you with the words of comedian Jim David:

“I realized that at the age of forty I’m smarter than I was at twenty, I’m richer than I was at twenty… Really the only thing twenty year olds have on us is looks. So to all of you twenty somethings out there?  Strike a pose and shut the fuck up.”

I’d love to hear your opinions in the comments as well as any retailers you are familiar with in your areas that fit fashionable age appropriate clothes. God knows I don’t want to be that woman in her forties trying to shop at Forever 21… I’m 25 and feel to old for that store.

Youth Knows No Pain

 



Shoes. Let’s get some.

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009

I was in the mood for an orgy of consumerism. It had been a while since I got myself did so I made a hair appointment downtown and planned to buy myself a sweet new outfit. Going through the pages of glossy top selling magazine at the hair salon for an idea of what blouse would go best with an A line skirt I found myself instead assaulted with advertisements for shit I can’t afford and the knowledge that my big toes may not be sufficiently alluring. Trips into most department stores are like a safari of despair. I tried buying jeans at a Forever 21 once. They all had flies with a half inch zipper.

“Awesome.” I thought. “If I could just keep my vagina in a safety deposit box in Albuquerque, New Mexico I would fit into these fucking things.”

After managing to molt out of the tiny denim hell pants I then took myself to the local H&M to try on one of the sexy button down dresses in the window. In the dressing room I attempted to get the fasteners over my vast tits and promptly shredded the front of it. I snuck out, hid the tattered dress on a rack and went home to contemplate eating disorders. Then I decided every retailer could just kiss my ass and ate Frito Pie while watching Dark City. Lather, Rinse, Repeat.

It’s hard, Isn’t it? You’re a nerdy girl. You are self aware, well read, dedicated to furthering yourself as a human being and collecting Carla Speed McNeil originals. You can hold forth on topics that range from social customs of the late 17th century to the class dynamics in Battle Angel Alita. There is no room in the lofty, intellectual world of geek culture for the frivolity of fashion! What you wear doesn’t matter!

And yet you totally think Christian Louboutin makes the hottest shoes ever.

There has always been a perception about us nerd-wads that we couldn’t dress our way out of a paper bag. The image painted of genre lovers is one of the hulking, mouth breathing, greasy hambeast in a Sailor Moon outfit three sizes too small clutching a Naruto plush doll. That image is for the most part bullshit and yet it persists. Although to be honest the general culture of fashion and beauty can be just as guilty as we are. Remember a few months ago when it was all the rage to wear velour track suits with “Juicy” embroidered across the ass? I do. I wish I didn’t but I do.

But what to do? If you are a nerd looking for interesting new ways to dress yourself in a way not shameful and humiliating to yourself and others or other girly health and beauty content you may, like myself, feel left out in the cold. Fashion shows and beauty magazines are useless for advice. The general tone of most style guides is somewhere between the first day of preschool orientation and that health class in middle school where they sent the boys out of the room so a woman five times your age could tell you you were “Becoming a woman” and “Flowering” and all the other euphemism she had to use because the school board can’t stomach the word “Vagina”.

For example a quick trip to Cosmo.com brought up an article that says it can make me “Feel So Freakin’ Sexy”. In a section detailing how to be freakin’ sexy while in your own home watching a movie with your guy I come across the recommendation to:

“Give each other hand massages. They aren’t so distracting that you’ll miss the action, but the physical connection will make your bodies hum.”

Is that what we are calling them now? Because I’ve received hand massages during a film and I wasn’t paying attention to what was on the scre- Oh wait, they mean actually massaging each others actual hands. My bad. I was thinking of something different.

Anyway, my point is that for most of us lady nerds most Fashion rags don’t cut it. The cutesy, condescending language is off putting and the fashion advice useless to a group of women who for the most part would rather stand out instead of conform to a strict and narrow idea of hip modern style. We want to look good but not look exactly the same. Yet everyone needs help sometimes picking out a flattering dress or new way to style our hair.

A few months ago I was in a Body Shop with my friend Pancha trying to decide on a new shade of lipstick. The incredibly helpful lady in the make up section applied a shade of pink to my lips and stepped back.

“Oh that one looks pretty nice!” The clerk beamed.

Out of the side of my mouth I muttered to Pancha. “Does this look pretty nice?”

“Sure” She said. “It looks nice if you are the sort of person who gives hand jobs behind the 7-11″

“Christ.” I scrubbed the pigment off of my lips and bought a new eyeshadow instead.

It’s my most fervent hope that in the following series of articles that we all can have a conversation about style that is fun and relevant instead of demeaning and restrictive. That we can openly discuss how to look smoking hot while not feeling like our bodies are ugly and wrong. Because as my mother once put to me as I sat weeping in a department store dressing room: “There isn’t anything wrong with you. It was just a bad top for your figure. Now buck up. This is supposed to fun not make you upset. Something is out on that floor. We just haven’t found it yet.”

So let’s find some good stuff shall we? It’s out there somewhere and if I don’t know where the best dresses can be found for tall girls with big hips then I’m sure one of you readers will.

(And as for you gentlemen who may be reading, don’t worry. I’ll get to you too.)