The 90’s Influence

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“The duty of youth is to challenge corruption.” –Kurt Cobain, Nirvana

“Just A Girl”

Take this pink ribbon off my eyes
I’m exposed and it’s no big surprise
Don’t you think I know exactly where I stand
This world is forcing me to hold your hand

‘Cause I’m just a girl, a little ‘ol me
Well don’t let me out of your sight
Oh I’m just a girl, all pretty and petite
So don’t let me have any rights

Oh…I’ve had it up to here!

The moment that I step outside
So many reasons for me to run and hide
I can’t do the little things I hold so dear
‘Cause it’s all those little things that I fear

‘Cause I’m just a girl I’d rather not be
‘Cause they won’t let me drive late at night
Oh I’m just a girl, guess I’m some kind of freak
‘Cause they all sit and stare with their eyes

Oh I’m just a girl, take a good look at me
Just your typical prototype

Oh…I’ve had it up to here!

Oh…am I making myself clear?

I’m just a girl
I’m just a girl in the world…
That’s all that you’ll let me be!

I’m just a girl, living in captivity
Your rule of thumb makes me worry some
I’m just a girl, what’s my destiny?
What I’ve succumbed to is making me numb

Oh I’m just a girl, my apologies
What I’ve become is so burdensome
Oh I’m just a girl, lucky me
Twiddle-dum there’s no comparison

Oh…I’ve had it up to!
Oh…I’ve had it up to!
Oh…I’ve had it up to here!

No Doubt, Gwen Stephani 

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I was a teen of the 90’s.  I went through puberty; graduated high school; used the internet for the first time; fell in love (twice), and moved out on my own.  I went through some of the biggest and most informative changes of my life during that decade.  The 90’s left a significant mark on my character and it still resonates with me today in 2016.

It was in the 90’s that I accepted my interest in fashion and style as a legitimate part of who I was.  I cared about it, and I put time and energy into it. If I wanted something I couldn’t afford, or it seemed unavailable to me (remember this was before on-line shopping), I bought second hand and altered it, or sewed it from scratch. I laugh now to think of what a strange experience it must have been for my parents to have a teenage daughter during the 90’s grunge era.  I imagine it must have been a combination of relief at the blatant lack of overt sexuality being displayed in the popular youth fashion of the time, and a touch of horror at my shabby, oversized, somewhat masculine style sense. Not to mention the very cheap price tag that went along with my almost entirely vintage wardrobe, which would be a relief to any parent. My style fell somewhere between your Grandpa’s closet in the 70’s, and Kurt Cobain’s, with an ever so tiny sprinkling of Charlie’s Angels. There were a lot of chords, bell bottoms, ripped jeans, 70’s big-collered button-downs and my most favourite pair of army pants bought at the local Army Surplus store.  I later regretted trading those beloved pants to my friend Ian, for his tie-dye sarong scarf. Although I do still have and use that scarf today.  Hey Ian, if your reading this, I want my pants back!

I jokingly laugh with my Husband and our male friends now about how they were ripped-off at the lack of skin and female bodies being put on display during their teenage years and twenties. The truth is, we all know how good it was for us in reality. The following generation of Brittany Spears/Christina Aguillera look-alikes made that abundantly clear to us. I feel lucky that I became a woman at a time in history when popular youth culture wasn’t embracing overt sexuality in women’s fashion.  That experience powerfully informed my opinions of how sexuality and the female body is displayed in fashion and it comes through in my taste now and how I dress myself daily.  I wasn’t even conciously aware of my tendency towards modesty in my style until another fashion blogger Miss Mellalina wanted to feature me on her blog as an example of a modest fashionista.  It was an interesting realization. My style is definitely bold and out-there, but it’s not overtly sexual. It’s true that most of the outfits I put together cover up most of my skin and don’t show off too much of my body.  Any skin I do show is typically a result of contextual function (e.g. wearing a bathing suit at the beach or cabin, shorts in the summer), or it’s balanced by a very contrasting counter-style (e.g. plunging neckline paired with oversized men’s trousers or all other skin completely covered up).

That said, I am fully aware of the effect that showing off even the tiniest portion of my body has had on my viewers.  Don’t think I didn’t notice the significant increase in the amount of attention my last blog post got for it’s slightly more provocative nature. It’s both totally predictable and yet completely astounding to me, the effect that a plunging neckline and seeing nipples through a top can have on people.  My likes, comments, and general traffic on all my social media accounts increased instantly and substantially.  Hmmm.  What does that say about us as a society?  It certainly shows why there are so many women and girls showing off their bodies and being provocative and seductive on social media.  The world has told us quite clearly and effectively that that is what it likes and wants, so that is what they keep giving to us. Don’t get me wrong, I certainly appreciate every like and comment that I get, but, here’s the thing,  you won’t see me posting any overt ass or boob shots on the internet simply for more “likes”.  You can be sure that the well established grunge era influence on me will be ever present in my choices to display my body.  Everything I do with fashion, I do for a reason and I can guarantee that if sexuality shows up in my posts, it will be to tell a story or express an idea or as an intentional art piece.  I have no intention of using my sexuality to get attention or gain more followers. The truth is, in my opinion, it’s too easy, superficial, and boring.  It’s also being done to death!  Not to mention it leads too many women down the path of attaching too much value to their physical appearance and then losing their self-worth in their later years, when showing off their bodies no longer gets the attention it once did. Hollywood’s substantial list of women over 35 who have had botox or plastic surgery is proof of that. Now, does that mean that my social media climb will be longer?  Likely.  Does it mean that the followers I do get will be more genuine? Indeed.

As a women who is approaching her 40’s now, I’ve lived some life, explored my sexuality and it’s effect, and I’ve been lucky enough to land in a place of self-worth and confidence that holds me true to my values without compromise.  If you ever find yourself in a place where you are allowing society to define who you are or what you have to offer, take a moment and determine if what others are saying they want from you is in line with what you want from yourself.  If your opinion doesn’t match theirs, I implore you to choose yourself over them. Our current focus on instant gratification, external approval and quick fixes has driven so many down a path that is not sustainable or satisfying in the long term.  In the end, what you create will be for others, at your expense. Gwen Stephani’s lyrics still resonate today as if it was still 1995…

“I’m just a girl, living in captivity
Your rule of thumb makes me worry some
I’m just a girl, what’s my destiny?
What I’ve succumbed to is making me numb”

If you stay true to yourself, you are patient, and you don’t succumb to society’s rule of thumb, you will find that there are many others who share the same values and tastes as you and they will find you, stick with you and help you to achieve the things that are important to you, because they are important to them too.  Everybody wins, no compromise.

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PHOTOGRAPHY BY: Michael Sanders, Electric Monk Media

STYLING BY: Tara Cole-McCaffrey, Patron of Dreams

THRIFTED FASHION: Jeans (altered by me), militarty/faux leather sleeve jacket (altered by me with addition of ethnic textiles).

CURRENT FASHION: Hat and purse by H&M, sequin skirt and plaid shirt by Forever 21, boots by Dr. Martens, faux septum ring from Urban Waves Winnipeg.

Nerd is the New Cool in NYC!

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New York City, shot from Empire State Building

I just got home from a 5 day trip to New York City with my Husband, Gregory Chomichuk.  We were there to promote and sell his work as a writer/illustrator of graphic novels and all-ages books at the New York Comic Con. It was 4 really intense days with 150 000 fans dedicated to all things sci-fi, fantasy, and super-heros!  Some were there to buy comics, art prints and toys, some were there to test out the newest video game designs and some were there to meet the celebrities who work on their favourite T.V. shows and movies like Milla Jovovich, Carrie Fisher, Ethan Hawke, Kate Beckinsale, Keanu Reeves, and the cast of The Walking Dead and Stranger Things, to name a few.

The juxtaposition of being immersed in the heart of nerd culture for 12 hours a day in one of the coolest and most admired cities in the world was a mad mind trip to say the least. There were people of all ages, demographics and walks of life all there to celebrate a common love that seems to speak to every type of person. One second I would be talking super-heros with a teenage cosplayer decked out in a costume that must have taken weeks to create, and the next, with a t.v. crew member who’s currently working on several Netflix shows, and then an Emmy nominated creative director/producer who’s worked on several HBO t.v. shows, produced concerts by Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones and worked with Disney. Each of them bought art and books from my Husband. Say whaaat?! Never have I been in a situation where perceived opposite sub-cultures interacted and blissed out together so seamlessly.  It was inspiring and humbling to be a part of!

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Gregory and I at his Comic Con booth

“In New York, you’ve got Donald Trump, Woody Allen, a crack addict and a regular Joe, and they’re all on the same subway car.” – Ethan Hawke

“I love nerds. Comic-Con junkies are the tastemakers of tomorrow. Isn’t that funny? The tables have turned.”  – Kristen Bell

“What was previously perceived as nerdy is now viewed as original. What I like about nerdiness, geekiness, is it doesn’t really matter what you’re into – it just means you’re not a follower.”  – Kristen Bell

New York City is a sexy beast, there’s no doubt about that!  I have never been happier to be in a city that truly doesn’t sleep so that I got an opportunity to see some sights, eat some amazing food and flow with the pulse of the city into the wee hours every night after the convention.  Some cities shut down after 11:00 p.m. on a weekday, so there’s no chance to see anything other than the inside of your hotel room. New York is definitely not that kind of city.  We ate dinner at 9 p.m., strolled through Times Square shoulder to shoulder with hoards of people at midnight, hung out on the rooftop of the Empire State Building at 12:30 and then had a dance party…I mean shopped, at H&M at 1:00 in the morning.  Followed by a quick stop at a busy grocery store for healthy snacks for the next days convention, and back to the comfort of our hotel The Staybridge Suites to finally put up our aching feet and crash from blissed-out exhaustion.

My entire New York experience can be summed up in one word.  Diversity.  I saw and met every kind of person in a chaotic fast-passed haze.  I talked fan-art politics, super heroes and fashion in the same conversation. I had dinner one night with a filmmaker, and a 5th generation New Yorker who introduced us to the best pizza in the world, and then was invited to a loft apartment to smoke weed (which I didn’t)  with a Harry Potter star (who shall remain unnamed).  We walked passed beautiful people in designer clothes, homeless drug addicts, regular folks who were more than willing to recommend great places to eat, and every once in a while, a storm trooper.

All in all, it was an experience steeped in humanity.  It was all about people.  Lots and lots of people, all living life and being their unapologetic selves in a city where anything goes, and you are free to be yourself. We are all in this together after all.

NEW YORK CITY

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THE HOTEL

THE NEW YORK COMIC CON

THE EMPIRE STATE BUILDING

PHOTOGRAPHY and VIDEO BY: Gregory Chomichuk and yours truly. All on my iPhone 6, raw and un-edited.

THRIFTED: Hats, jackets, palazzo pants and yellow skirt.

FEATURED FASHION: Lennard Taylor Brenda swing shirt, Tony Chestnut pink jumpsuit, American Apparel body suit, and my Dr Marten boots that went the distance on this trip and saved my feet!

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The Spectre of Self

Spec*tre

a ghost.

  • something widely feared as a possible unpleasant or dangerous occurance

e.g. “the spectre of war”

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“We all have a social mask, right? We put it on, we go out, put our best foot forward, our best image. But behind that social mask is a personal truth, what we really, really believe about who we are and what we’re capable of.” – Phil McGraw

“The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are. You trade in your reality for a role. You give up your ability to feel, and in exchange, put on a mask.” – Jim Morrison

It can be the most difficult thing in the world to honestly be yourself.  Being who we truly are begins to be socialized out of us in early childhood.  We learn how to please others because we are taught that pleasing others is more important than pleasing ourselves.  We are taught that we are better people if we put ourselves aside and present to the world what the world wants us to be.  We learn how to wear masks to suite the people, places and situations in our lives.  We learn that being ourselves can be excruciatingly painful, because being ourselves makes us vulnerable.  If they see our true colours, they can criticize us, laugh at us, or reject us.  We are social creatures, so we begin to believe that fitting in and being the same is safer and more comfortable. The truth is, it causes more damage to us and those around us than being ourselves ever will.  When we are our truest selves we have so much more to offer the world that only we can give.  Wearing masks to protect our vulnerability dims the powerful light that is within each of us and weakens our ability to let it out and benefit the world.

So we suppress our truest spirit.  We put on a brave face when we are scared, a happy face when we are sad, an agreeable face when we are angry.  We pretend that we like things that we don’t, we compromise when we are fundamentally opposed to something that’s important to us, and we tell ourselves that we are being nice, and keeping the peace.  We wouldn’t want to rock the boat now would we?  But is it actually being nice and keeping the peace, or are we just trading the potential conflict with others with a very real and very immediate conflict within ourselves?  We are so afraid of what others might think of us, that we have given them all the power and have placed more significance on what they think than what we think of ourselves, and it slowly eats at our spirit.  In reality, we end up more lonely, isolated and insignificant by letting that fear rule us, than we would be if we just allowed ourselves to be authentic.

I am not saying that we should all air our dirty laundry, or go around telling everyone the details of our exceptionally crappy day when they ask how we are.  You can be real without being negative, complaining or wallowing in self pity. You can look your unhappiness or discomfort in the face, admit to it, talk to a friend or loved-one about it and then, put your energy into a solution. I do believe in the power of positivity.  I do believe in looking for the good in all situations, and I do believe in compromise for the greater good.  I don’t however, believe that these things should be done when they are in direct conflict with your truest self.  If the foot you put forward for the world to see requires you to lie to yourself about who you are and how you really feel, you do the world a great dis-service.

It’s time to throw off the veil.  Time to come out of the shadows and let the world see you.  Time to take off all the different masks we wear and be brave enough to look criticism and conflict in the eye and realize that avoiding it is not more important and less painful than being honest with yourself and finding your true place in the world.  The world needs you.  The authentic you.  The most beautiful part of this is that all we really want is love and belonging and the more of us that throw off the veil, the more authentic people there will be in the world to have real and meaningful relationships with.  The more we allow ourselves to be known, the more we allow others to be known.  Freedom and authenticity are contagious.

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PHOTOGRAPHY BY: Michael Sanders, Electric Monk Media

MODELS, HAIR & MAKEUP: Leanne Sanders and Tara Cole-McCaffrey

STYLING: Patron of Dreams

VINTAGE: White dresses, shawls and scarves from The Goodwill Store in Winnipeg

CRYSTALS and STONES: Shakti in Winnipeg