The Power of Identity

A review of this book showed up on another blog this week.

I take inspiration from people with their own identities.

Thinking about this more it’s why I decided not to list (she/her) as my preferred personal pronouns after my name in my work email.

I would rather list Christina Bruni (Chris/Christina) which I’m considering doing.

The focus on gender as a defining factor in who a person is is what I don’t like.

Of course this is where the term non-binary comes into play.

Yet even with that can’t a person choose to identify in another way?

Why can’t a person write in their email Jane Doe (Artist/Activist)?

The point is that I’m impressed with anyone who has the courage or confidence or chutzpah to choose their identity.

Rather than conforming to a traditional role that they’re told is the only acceptable one.

I think it’s time to focus on the passion and personality that each of us brings to the table breaking bread together.

A quote from the Queer Advantage book that should be required reading:

“I genuinely believe that life only works, and success only works, if you’re being authentically yourself…. [The] only way to achieve success is by sticking to what is authentically true to you.” 

Adam Eli, Activist

Feck Perfuction

James Victore the author of this book is a designer who failed at one art school and was kicked out of another.

His work hung in the Museum of Modern Art. He taught at the School of Visual Arts for 20 years.

He bought an apartment in SoHo and a house in the country.

The morale of this story is for everyone–artists and non-artists alike.

James Victore gives readers permission to be weird.

Reading Feck Perfuction gave me a shot in the arm of confidence to dare to be my unusual self.

I recommend you read this short book too.

The morale is in the moral of this story: there’s no one right way to live.

There’s no right time to do something.

The only way to live is to be yourself. The only time to do something is now.

Feck Perfuction is an unlikely font of self-help.

You might be able to check it out of a library like I did.

My thoughts got jangled like a mad wind chime after I read this book.

What Victore has to say is unsettling because he’s throwing down a dare.

Go on–be your glorious Self. There is no one else you have to be.

Spring Cleaning in December

I identify as an Artist. I’ve always thought that wearing clothes was a form of self-expression.

As the new year comes on I persist in thinking “I dress, therefore I am.” As if the right outfits will take me where I want to go.

It was time to let go of the clothes and the thoughts and the feelings that held me back. Out, out—with the old—and in with the new.

I’m doing spring cleaning in December to get rid of clothes that no longer thrill me.

I’ve tossed blue and faded jeans into the donation bag. An olive cardigan too dull and drab to continue wearing.

The beige-and-black summer blouses I washed out of my sartorial hair too. Couldn’t I command attention without having to wear shirts that made me look like a 1990s office worker? Wasn’t there a better way?

The urge to purge my drawers, closet, and storage rack was stronger than ever.

For me change starts with my wardrobe. Sorting and organizing better what I own. Not bringing into my apartment new clothes that won’t see the light of day.

Like the multi-color zig-zag pattern rayon cardigan. I’m not a disco diva so what was I thinking when I bought it?

Resisting the allure of buying things that catch my eye has always been hard. Who isn’t taken in by an item of clothing that beckons you to believe that if you wore it you would become a superstar? Or at least—a spectacular version of yourself.

At the end of the day to a lot of women a dress is just a dress. They don’t imbue their clothes with the magical power to engineer a positive mood in the wearer.

Only I’m ready to test the theory that dressing up in black jeans and different color pants and colorful tops could cheer me up.

My thinking was that clothes could have the effect of vitamins.

Living through 2020 has been hard for all of us. I firmly believe 2021 will be better.

What better way to bring in the New Year than to clear out your closets?

One day we will be able to go out and paint the town red or gold or whatever color catches our fancy.

Until then I stand by the maxim that whatever gives you joy shouldn’t be discounted in this time when the COVID-19 outbreak is still in effect.

Unlike a lot of people I enjoy cleaning out and organizing my closet.

What gives you joy? Just Do It.

Facing Our Faces

Magazine articles talk about how the use of filters on selfies has altered how women view themselves.

Seeking perfection is a myth because it implies there can be no growth. Achieving a perfect state there would be no higher you could go.

I’m doing things differently today to dismantle perfectionism.

The idea of not using a filter to change the appearance of my face and body appeals to me.

It’s a radical risk to go outside with your hair undone or your face without makeup. Mostly because women are held to and buy into a higher standard of what’s right.

The part of me that resists want to disrupt the traditional notion of what’s acceptable beauty.

At 55 years old I no longer cover applying a full face of makeup.
Those Sephora makeovers were gorgeous yet impossible to maintain day in and day out.

As well getting dolled up that way in my OKCupid photos did nothing to entrance men to send me messages.

It is in the imperfect where everyone shines as human beings who are our authentic selves.

Now I’m owed a free Sephora makeover. This time I will get one with a twist: to tell the makeup artist to use only 5 products. To design a look I can recreate on my own.

Today I think it’s time to celebrate differentness.

Glossy and stylized images aren’t real.

After the pandemic is over I intend to experiment with makeup in a subtle way.

Bravery is called for no matter how old a woman is.

The daring to look in the mirror and shout:

“I see you. I celebrate you.”

Real beauty is what’s on the inside. Expressing the inner outwardly is the goal. This is when a person is most beautiful:

Not being afraid to express themselves.

In the coming blog entry I talk about my experience getting a haircut during the pandemic. The photo of my haircut is unretouched. Without using a filter. In it I used only foundation blush mascara and lipstick.

You could call this approach a makeunder instead of a makeover.

There’s a thin line between art and artifice.

It’s time to get real. Some of us are getting depressed seeing photo-perfect images on Instagram.

My hope is to empower blog readers to do your own thing not what society tells you to do.

Finding Joy

The magazine above was hanging out on the rack untouched.

Curious I flipped through the pages. The recipes enticed me to buy the book. It also has positive feature articles.

I’ll take what can give me joy in this time when the COVID-19 outbreak hasn’t ended.

Anxiety and depression have been on the rise.

Covering my face and walking outdoors in sunny weather is going to be my M.O. when my mood tanks.

To hell with the science non-believers.

Yes–I’ll be going outside.

I won’t allow others to steal my sunshine.

It doesn’t cost a dime to take a walk.

Sunlight is free for everyone.

While we still have this glorious green earth I say: enjoy it.

Take a magazine like Sweet July out for a trip to park or avenue.

Sit on a bench and read to get empowered.

I’ll end here by saying that Women’s Health magazine features diverse voices and writers now.

Skip over its advertisements for food products and focus on the workouts.

I’ve been buying and reading magazines ever since the 1980s.

In New York City Hotaling’s and other stores sold hundreds of U.S. and international magazines.

Those magazine shops have been long gone. Shuttered like all the other mom-and-pop stores that were casualties of rising rents.

Today I submit that by parking yourself on a bench and reading a magazine you can go far.

You can go anywhere.

Our Common Thread

The blog title is the title of the June/July 2020 Vogue. It is a special issue on Creativity in a Time of Crisis.

I want to quote from two people whose photos and quotes grace the magazine.

I use the quotes to encourage readers to buy Vogue.

____________________

Cynthia Erivo – Atlanta:

“I’m still picking outfits that make me feel good–even if I’m just going downstairs,” says the actor. “I’m still getting up and doing my little facial and skin care regimen. I’m still wearing my jewelry because I love that, and it’s a part of who I am…So that stuff hasn’t fallen by the wayside yet. I would say I’m staying fashionably cozy.”

Alessandro Michele – Rome:

“I’ve rediscovered knitting and the sacredness of manual work. Knitting is my way of praying,” says the Gucci creative director. “I’m also learning how to play my classical guitar, feeling the connection with my dad’s love for music. I’m aware of the privilege I have–I can slow down, while lots of other people are working tirelessly to help each and every one of us make it through these agonizing times.

We would not be here thinking about what this pandemic is teaching us without their priceless effort. From my windows I can hear the birds singing as I’ve never heard before; seawater in Venice is clear once again.

These are the little signs we need to look at once we go back to inhabiting this fragile world.”

______________________

What I have to add to the dialog:

Be grateful for what you have. You have everything right inside you that you need to succeed. Respect the natural world and the human beings living alongside you on this green and glorious earth.

Each of us gets only this life to live on this one planet. Live for today and focus on the present moment before it’s gone.

Today is the greatest day. Only today matters.

The past had an expiration date–it ended. The future isn’t guaranteed.

Today is a gift to open and rejoice in.

Pay attention to the birds singing on your fire escape. Listen to the song of life.

______________________

Living through this terrible and tragic pandemic I’ve decided not to play it safe when returning outdoors.

What I wrote in here years ago:

There’s no safety in playing it safe. The path of least resistance leads to a dead end.

Dare beautiful readers–dare to be yourselves and strive to make a difference.

More than ever the world needs us to band together for the common cause of humanity.

Fashion Revolution Week

Fashion Revolution Week has come on as a response to the breakdown in worldwide commerce due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Quite awhile ago I said I would write about the book Wear No Evil. Yes–I forgot to do this. It’s a guide to sustainable fashion that offers a system for choosing and using wardrobe items.

The author lists 16 criteria you can choose from and a diamond-design method for prioritizing each choice.

My prime choice is to buy clothes that require low water use to manufacture. And whose vendors don’t pollute the water with chemicals in the process of creating garments.

From the people to the products a fashion revolution is an idea whose time has come.

I recommend reading Wear No Evil. It’s the most concise, helpful, and cheerful guide to sustainable fashion. It refrains from judging the reader or belaboring the point with a academic treatise. Actionable steps are given for right now.

Alas, I regret that as a tiny person who is only 5 feet tall and a size 2 Petite I have yet to find clothes of any sustainable origin that would fit me. If anyone knows of a suitable vendor, I’d love to hear about these options.

My solution is to “shop in my own closet” for the foreseeable future. To mix-and-match items I already own to style new outfits.

Accidental Icon Lyn Slater in her Ripping Seams blog post talks about taking apart your consciousness as well as the seams in the clothes you wear.

Fashion and social justice seem like odd partners. Yet taking apart the fabric of society and getting under its seams is the first step in deconstructing the tattered clothing we’re in. That is the raiment we cloak ourselves in mentally as well as physically.

Living through the COVID-19 outbreak seems like the perfect time to do what Slater suggests: start ripping seams.

I estimate I have another two or three years before I have to buy a whole slew of clothes again. By that time perhaps more sustainable lower-cost options will arrive for a person like me who doesn’t fit into Regular sized clothing.

My goal is to at least buy fewer clothes and shop less often. To read up on the social standing of clothes vendors.

If you ask me doing whatever you can is all that matters in the moment.

Do Just One Thing. And do One More Thing after that.

This is the way to start a revolution from your closet.

Conscious Chic in a Crisis

Yes–I’ve been thinking about what I termed Conscious Chic in a blog category.

The Accidental Icon Lyn Slater talks about this in her latest blog post [see below].

Who needs 10 pairs of the exact same pants?

Who needs a bursting closet and overstuffed dresser drawers?

The manufacturing process of garments has long been a destroyer of our natural world.

It’s time to act in a considered fashion like Lyn Slater believes.

Though I’ve bought an eye shadow compact I intend for this to be the only beauty buy for the foreseeable future.

As well I have the intention to dress in the clothes hanging out in my wardrobe today.

I’m not a Green saint as far as this goes.  Like Lyn Slater I’ve been thinking about this.

She talked of being creative.

Acting creative can do a world of good in transforming a simple wardrobe of clothes and collection of makeup into a stunning reflection of individuality.

You don’t have to be rich or thin to express yourself through beauty and fashion.

You can trust that you’ll look good without needing a trust fund.

Read the Lyn Slater Accidental Icon blog entry here.

 

Fashion and Freedom

Venturing outside I bought the April Harper’s Bazaar. There are great articles peppered throughout this book.

A feature on rock innovator Patti Smith stated:

“For Smith fashion has always been about freedom.”

In the singer’s own words:

“Even as a kid, what I was wearing was always very important to me. I very much identified with my clothing.”

Decades Later I too remember the clothes I wore that were imprinted on my mind about who I was and what I wanted to tell people.

In the 1980s and 1990s I dressed in an Avant Garde fashion precisely to rebel the strictures and sanctions imposed on women where I lived.

On Staten Island the standard fashion fare was a pink sweater and the original Guess jeans.

I shopped in Unique Clothing Warehouse in Manhattan. My goal was to make a statement via how I dressed–it was how I wanted others to perceive me.

The photos of Patti Smith in Bazaar I tore out to insert in my fashion binder. Once a week I view the photos in the binder to get ideas on how to style outfits.

What I know:

It’s always right to dress in your own style even if it differs from what is popular or has become a trend.

I’m glad the 1980s and 1990s are gone and with them the bizarre outfits I wore then.

In the 1990s I bought a blouse with this quote on a hang tag:

You say much more when creativity speaks for itself.

Today I’ve learned that my outfits don’t need to scream for me to command attention.

I say: do your own thing with fashion. Speak your truth through your clothes.

The April Bazaar also features fashion designer Marc Jacobs wearing clothes that women traditionally wear.

His quotes are a must-read as well.

In the next blog entry I’ll talk more about the Patti Smith article which to me was so empowering as a woman.

February 2020 Allure

billy porter

I took home a free copy of the February 2020 Allure magazine as seen above. It’s the Art of Beauty issue.

Michelle Lee the editor-in-chief wrote in her art appreciation editor’s letter:

“Having the freedom to express yourself is art we can all appreciate.”

On the cover is Billy Porter who starred in and won a Tony for his role as Lola in the Broadway production of Kinky Boots.

His audacity to be his authentic self has empowered me.

In the interview with Porter in the magazine he is quoted:

“The very thing that everybody’s telling you is wrong is exactly what you have to be.”

On the last page Porter is asked to Please finish this sentence: I feel most attractive when I’m…

“Living in the fullness of my authenticity.”

From watching an Oprah Winfrey episode he learned “the importance of shifting your mind-set toward service to others.”

Porter has done an inimitable service to readers simply by acting true to himself.

He was the first openly gay man to win an Emmy as a leading actor in a drama for his role on Pose.

Elsewhere in the February 2020 issue in a Modern Wellness feature a writer chronicles her own odyssey with making art:

“The truth is, medication can often help artists better access their creativity and express their emotions more readily.”

A fashion designer was quoted in this article:

“My creative output has never been higher than when I’m on medication.”

I identify as an Author Artist and Athlete.

The premise of my memoir Left of the Dial was “enjoy your quirkiness.”

Reading the articles in the February 2020 issue of Allure gave me a shot in the arm of confidence to continue blogging and speaking out.

My goal is to be part of the solution. My mantra is this:

I stand up for individuality in all its guises in everyone living on earth.

I’ll end here with a curious feature on page 36. Activist and art curator Kimberly Drew was asked to tout the products she loves the most.

When she gets a moment alone in her hotel room she usually ends up dancing. To do this only her Bang & Olufsen Beoplay A1 speaker will do for listening to music.

Imagine that: an activist touting a high-end speaker that most likely costs $100 or more.

The idea that you can be an activist on your own terms cheers me.

Crank up the tunes I say. Contribute something positive to the dialog.

In honor of Martin Luther King Day coming up this Monday I’m going to post a blog entry about how each of us can make a difference in our own way.

I believe in the transformative beauty of creating art to make the world a better place.