Friday, May 15, 2015

When life throws you lemons, make a hat!

Like many people, I was very touched by the recent blog post on Wearing History about Social Media and the Myth of Perfection. I can relate to many of the things she has gone through, and I SO admire the courage that she showed by giving us a glimpse into the less public side of her life. I think Lauren started a conversation that really needed to happen. It is SO easy to feel inferior, jealous, or like the people around us live charmed lives when we only see the highly curated images that are typically shared on blogs and Facebook. I can also relate to the Dreamstress's post on Privacy, Perfection, and Blogging, because I too am an extremely private person, and there are just some things that I don't feel comfortable talking about in this very public forum.

2014 was a very bad year for me. 2015 has been much much worse. I have been struggling with what to say or how to say it here on my public site, so this string of recent articles was very timely for me. Everybody is different, but for me, costuming is my joy, my creative outlet, and most of all, my escape, and I just don't want to talk about sad personal things here - that's what LiveJournal is for! But if you notice that I'm not posting as much, I'm replying to emails even less than usual, or you see me wearing lots of black for awhile, just know that there's a lot going on beneath the surface, and I'm doing the best that I can.

So on a lighter note, I thought I'd show you a quickie project that I just completed last week. I wanted to wear my Edwardian half-mourning outfit to a DFWCG outing, but we were going to a crowded museum, so I didn't want to be a nuisance in my ginormous Merry Widow hat. So the night before the event, I whipped up a much smaller version to wear instead.

Edwardian hats are some of the most delightful things to make because they often appear to be big piles of fluff with very little rhyme or reason to them. I started with a flat brimmed straw hat that I found at an estate sale, and then I took some scraps of velvet and piled them on top to make the crown seem much bigger than it actually is. I tacked the velvet down by hand, and I just folded and scrunched it up as I went until it looked "right". (I know that's not very helpful, but I don't know any other way to say it!) I finished it off by adding 4 feathers that I lightly curled with my curling iron, and an antique buckle brooch that I bought on Etsy. These brooches are quite common and are often surprisingly affordable, and I love them because they are so easy to switch out from one project to the next.

Even though I don't want to delve into sad personal topics today, I will share one "myth of perfection" confession with you all. I often retouch my photos to remove wrinkles, blemishes, dark circles under my eyes, or fix my hair a little better. I figure that all of those issues could be avoided or at least lessened if I used expensive eye creams, botox, wrinkle fillers, or a hairdresser... but I'm poor and Photoshop is free, so eh? why not? I also take an average of 50 photos for every 1 that is good enough to show up on my site, so I'm extremely selective about what I show here. I often wonder if people see me in person at costume events and are shocked by how old and ragged I look compared to my online photos.  :)  But it's really hard to put yourself out there for the amusement and nit-picking thousands of strangers. A bit of retouching makes me feel braver and less self-conscious - it's like a psychological coat of armor - so I feel more comfortable sharing more photos of my costuming work, which is the real point of it all. So now you know my dirty little secret, and if you'd like to see the raw, un-retouched me, just roll over this picture and take a peek.

So am I spreading the myth of perfection by retouching my photos? Maybe. Am I going to keep doing it? You better believe it! Because in the end, costuming is not reality - it's an escape. Reality is not always pretty and it's not always fun, but I'm grateful to have this quirky little hobby where I can take a break from the real world to cast off my woes, wear silly hats, magically erase my wrinkles, and laugh with my friends. For me, it's the best therapy in the world.