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Questinia On December - 10 - 2009

coupA 20-something photographer professional acquaintance of mine, a twin, came to me and disclosed a litany of things that weren’t going well:  a male friend who had an ambivalent approach-avoid response to her, not sure if he wanted to be a friend or a lover but nonetheless could not stop spending time with her,  jobs that were not forthcoming, doing work for free, a bad agent,  being taken advantage of.  Basically she was not there.  The invisible twin. The role she had in her family.

I thought she could be engaging, somewhat reticent, but charming.  She, I know, is awfully talented as a photographer.  In fact,  she was asked by many celebrities to take creative shots of them, but somehow the money remained scant.  She did fashion shows for friends who were trust funders and they took advantage of her soft-spoken unassertive demeanor.

The second most recent time I saw her, she appeared her usual self.  Somewhat petite and voluptuous with long straggly dirty blond hair, over-sized clothes that were decidedly neuter.  She gave me her litany.  So I looked at her and said “You need to find a nice piece of clothing”  She said she couldn’t afford it.  I told her she couldn’t afford not to afford it.  I then asked her whether she saw herself as a “female with consequence”.  She had no idea what I was talking about (but who really does?).  With further clarification she said she was a tomboy and didn’t like “girly” things.  I told her she better get one girly clothing thing in her repertoire by the next time I saw her.

She came in next time, two months later.  I had forgotten about my homework assignment.  She walked in transformed, it was subtle, but notable.  Her hair was beautifully highlighted and the wavy mop turned into  soft, long, butter-colored marcel waves.  She had on stylish clothes that were tailored to her now non-invisible body.  She bore a sly smile of reticent exuberance.  As soon as she sat down she said “My life has changed”.  She went on to describe how after our conversation she thought of what she should get that was girly, but she couldn’t decide.  What she did find was a pair of ankle high black boots, suitable for a tomboy,  which could easily double as shoes, should she choose to wear a dress.  They made her feel really good.  Just really good.  That’s when things took off.  She noticed she was walking straighter, taller,  had better eye contact and spoke with more authority.  She started refusing to do things for free and her friends bartered for her services.  She got a makeover from her friend the make-up artist, a hair style from another one, and clothes from a designer for whom she did fashion shoots. Equipped with her new look that she had parlayed with her wit and new shoes, she found a new agent who was beginning to book her for paying jobs.  And of course… the Hollywood ending…her reticent beau grabbed her on  the street one day and kissed her forthright in front of a group of friends much to everyone’s surprise.  He has come to love her and, as he is an actively employed photographer who shoots around the world, has invited her to the West Coast to shoot in the high Sierras  for “fun”.

I asked her, “All this because of a pair of boot-shoes?”   She nodded.  I asked “Where do I get a pair?!!”  She was so adorable because she told me and we laughed like a couple of girls who master-minded a coup on a shoe-string.  As she left, she gave me a look I can never forget.  She smiled knowingly, appreciatively, earnestly;  all in her own way… reticently.

Categories: Observations

Written by Questinia

In the medical arts in NYC

61 Responses so far.

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  1. javaz says:

    This is off-topic, but this article is not on the main page, so I’d like to share two stories.

    When I first moved out to Arizona to work in Aerospace, there weren’t enough CAD computers so they put us on shifts.
    I worked the late shift for a time, so that meant I went into work at 4:00 in the afternoon and left at roughly 1:00 the next morning or later, depending on the workload.
    I’d wear jeans and flannel shirts, or jeans and T-shirts, since there was no one there after 4:30 or 5:00.

    One night, a woman came up to me as I was returning to my desk, and told me to clean the bathrooms, and I realized that she thought I was a cleaning person, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but after that, I started dressing slightly nicer.

    Oh, I don’t know, but it was funny at the time, and maybe you had to be there.

    Here’s another thing that happened though, and this still gets me, because Arizona is a Right To Work State, which means they hate unions.

    There was a time that I worked the early morning shift, which started at 4:00 in the morning, and I went in at that time, and there was a super hot job going on.

    It was to try to win a contract and this was on a Friday.
    I was not allowed to leave until the job was done, and we were not allowed breaks, or meals, and the head honchos, and I mean the BIG wigs came in around 7:00 that evening for a few hours, and they brought us fast food.

    We could take bathroom breaks, and drink all the coffee we wanted for free, but I didn’t walk out of work until the following Sunday afternoon.
    They made us all sign waivers for overtime pay, and in the goodness of their dear little corporate hearts, gave us Monday off with pay to make up for it.

    I was so sick that Monday, and I’m not sure if the fast food was the cause or the stress, but had this happened in Detroit, it would have never happened.

    Can you believe that?

  2. javaz says:

    The very first pair of boots I ever owned were Go-Go Boots.
    Does anyone remember those?

    Heck, the first nylons I ever wore was in the 4th grade on an Easter Sunday and were the ones with the seams at the back.

    I’ve always been a combination of tomboy attire, even though I wasn’t a tomboy, and girlie-girl.

    I’ve gone through phases in my life, and still do, I suppose, whereby I wear makeup and heels, and no makeup and flats.
    Of course, now that I no longer work, dressing up and putting on makeup is a pleasure, compared to a chore.

    Great article.

    • Chernynkaya says:

      Sure I do! I never wore them though-- I was into crude leather sandals that laced up to my knees--like a gladiator/hippie.

      I have phases too, but have always gone to extremes. When I was in the corporate world, I was a ridiculous clothes-horse and suit wearer. Other times, I wear kinda costume-y stuff and lots of ethnic clothing-- Sometimes Mexican peasant, sometimes Chinese, all kinds of things from everywhere.

      But nowadays, I have succumbed to whatever is the most comfortable. Unless I go out. Then, it’s 4″ heels, baby!

      • javaz says:

        Oh man.
        When I was in the corporate world, I wore heels everyday and skirt suits or dresses, and my heels were the stubby kind, you know, maybe an inch and a half.
        When I retired and switched to wearing sandals or tennis shoes or going barefoot and stopped wearing heels, my arches killed me.
        I could barely walk.
        It took me months to recover and I didn’t wear actual high heels.
        I don’t know how or why women put themselves through that torture.
        You’d think bras with wires and nylons in the summer would be enough.

        Think about the olden days when women wore corsets.

  3. nellie says:

    Great story, Questinia. Bito might just be right about that screenplay 😉

    She will remember you forever.

  4. Khirad says:

    I came of age during the grunge era. For much of the 2000’s I was still stuck in the 90’s. Lately the past 2-3 years style has become more important. I wish I hadn’t poo-poo’d the materialism and conformity -- I had a closet full of flannels from Value Village and baggy beaten up pants. I wish I had had more of a sense of this in High School, certainly. I still have my own style -- ‘corporate goth’, as it were, my only white and colors being in the form of ironic t-shirts. I must say it’s fun, and nice to know you look sharp, and to get compliments on your fastidiously polished Doc Martens (which I’ve gone through four pairs in 14 years, but take much better care of now). Jeans that fit, pinstripe and an assortment of black slacks, long sleeved shirts, belts, a tie (maroon with black shirt, silver with purple shirt, not business attire-like), my adored pocket-watch hanging out like a wallet chain. Maybe I’m still weird and idiosyncratic, maybe I’m fooling myself that I look better, but I like the feeling that you get when you get the sensation of someone burning their eyes in your back (in a non-creepy way), even if it is a placebo effect. I also noticed I’m able to do more eye-contact, feeling more confident, back straighter. My character traits are identical to hers (and I could get personal, with my issues of young men with these issues being overlooked and mocked -- doubly invisible), so that prompted me to write this (even if ‘the others’ might see it), even if my fashion sense still leaves much to be desired. Needless to say I may have gone a little overboard from disheveled to metrosexual, but my nails aren’t manicured, just kept neat and tidy now -- no more chewing (such basics of hygiene take longer for us, girls)! Now if only I knew what to do with my hair… I hate it short, I’ve had long hair since I was 14, I miss it when its not there, but for the life of me end up using a whole glob of product and spray just to end up tying it back and cut not too short or too long… wow, I’m getting all Gilmore Girls… like you care about my big hair dilemma.

    In any case, I’ll never understand the issues perfectly gorgeous women have. I relate, ’cause I have my own, but as a straight member of the opposite sex am often thinking like, WHAT? YOU don’t think you’re pretty?! It’s interesting to find out how oblivious some are, when I was at first intimidated by their looks.

    In any case, I can always watch “What Not to Wear” and instantly feel better about my wardrobe.

    • Kalima says:

      Sounds ok to me Khirad, at least you won’t be hogging the mirror from your girlfriend.

      Here in Japan, it’s often hard to tell the boys from the girls. Make-up for guys is something that remains something that rock and heavy metal groups wear on stage and I wish that I could convince a few Japanese of both sexes that blonde hair really does nothing for their skin tones, it makes them look ill.

      Some time ago when we still lived in London, my hair was dyed black for a photo shoot my hubby was doing. The unfortunate thing was that a few weeks later I was admitted to a hospital with an irregular heartbeat. I’m fair skinned, almost white, one poor nurse had the shock of her life when she saw my long, black curly hair and snow white face on the pillow, she thought I was dead, screamed for assistance, waking up the whole ward of older ladies.

      Two weeks later when I was discharged, I had my hair cut very short so that I could grow it out, I’ll never do that again.

  5. SueInCa says:

    What a great story, your friend almost sounds like a “Georgy Girl”. I love that song. We all have our down times and it is so nice to be picked up by another sister.

  6. PepeLepew says:

    Oh, no, my kid isn’t going to stay a tomboy, forever?! :(

    This year, she asked for Christmas, “grown-up boots. Not kid boots … grown-up boots.”

    Is that the first sign?

    • SueInCa says:

      Wait until she finds Macy’s then you are in trouble. Give her a budget and let her make the choices, that is how I showed my daughter that Macy’s was not always her best choice.

    • boomer1949 says:

      That and a trip to the spa.

      My youngest was a tomboy until she was 8 or 9. Then she started dancing…ballet…tap…jazz. Girlie costumes, stage makeup, feather boas, and all that jazz (no pun intended). Pretty pricey, but it kept her off the streets at night. :-)

  7. Kalima says:

    Hi Q, wonderful story, you certainly changed her life. Kudos to you.

    You’ve made me want to rush to my wardrobe to check it I have any “girly” things but alas everything I can see is a different shade of black, a colour I have always been comfortable with since my late 20’s. In fact the only things that I remember being outstanding were a bright fuchsia pink t-shirt and a turquoise “Issey Miyake” leather jacket, both long gone.

    I suppose some of us settle down after we are married for whatever reason, no more short skirts or revealing tops unless we want the “evil eyed! look from hubby. We acquire a menagerie of long nailed fluffy things, our clothes are full of hair and in tatters, we begin to dress to please ourselves.

    I’ve had an aversion to ribbons, bows and lace since I was knee high. Ribbons were ripped out of my hair as soon as I left the house, bows disappeared, those just weren’t the clothes for climbing trees or sliding down coal tips in a cardboard box.

    The tomboy I was still lurks in me and I’m not uncomfortable with this at all.

    • SueInCa says:

      Hmm you sound something like me, dark black or light black? I have branched out a bit, but I first go for the black. I make jewelry and most of my creations are sans black though.

      • Kalima says:

        You make jewelry, how interesting, I would imagine that your creations look stunning with black. A lot of my pieces are ethnic or antiques and some are quite bulky, they work best with black outfits.

        I’m often amazed at how many shade of black there really are, even bought a black based rug for the living room, must have been a one of those days when I lost my mind, I had forgotten about our Blue Persian. Now I’m suffering the consequences every day, he sheds cotton wool sized balls all the year around, even my trusted Dyson can’t cope.

        • SueInCa says:

          Well, of course, I wear black lol. My daughter wanted to paint her room black, but i put up the blocks on that one. I did let her paint her baseboards, dresser, desk, bookcase black though and she was satisfied.

          • Kalima says:

            I once panted the walls of our London, Victorian built apartment in burgundy, thought it would compliment the high ceiling. After about a week we felt as if we had landed in a horror movie and the walls were closing in. Painted the whole thing again in pristine white.

            • SueInCa says:

              I love it. I have a friend who did mauve and forest green, it was smashing. Victorian home in Petaluma CA

            • bitohistory says:

              Too good!! 😆

            • Kalima says:

              I was a bit of a rebel in my salad days. If someone said it can’t be done, I’d do it myself just to prove them wrong.

            • bitohistory says:

              Kalima, I have been the saftey person on some job sites. That story has me just shaking my head!!!

            • Kalima says:

              The ceilings were so high, I had to put a chair on a table to reach the top. I’m lucky to still be in one piece, even if the piece is a little rusty here, there and everywhere. :)

        • Chernynkaya says:

          Gee-- that’s what I wear too-- African, Indian, ethnic whatever, and some I make for myself out of big, chunky things. great minds and all….

          • Kalima says:

            I would have to say SNAP to everything except making my own as I never get peace or for that matter space to do anything for myself. At the moment one of our furry monsters is perched on the Christmas cards I was writing and left on the table, batting my pen to the floor. I often wish that we hadn’t had the bright idea of knocking down walls to make extra space, I lost my little study with a door when we decided to do that. :(

          • SueInCa says:

            You can make beautiful chevron beads with clay. Also in Ghana, they make beads out of magazine pages. I tried my hand at those but you have to have mucho patience. Their pieces are very interesting and a good conversation starter.

          • SueInCa says:

            I love ethnic and old style jewelry. mixing turquoise with copper, crystals, I can go to a bead shop and wander for hours. I also am now starting with clay. It is interesting to work with, very versitile. I may take a class to work withsilver clay

            • Kalima says:

              I’m drooling, turquoise, copper and crystals sounds like heaven. I love rose gold and have found many interesting antique pieces in my travels.

            • Kalima says:

              I could do with a few “little ole ladies” myself. :)

            • SueInCa says:

              I have these little ole ladies in the Hamptons that send me old jewelry and I break it up to use the parts. They have sent me some things I keep for myself though.

    • Questinia says:

      OG’s are already girly!


    • bitohistory says:

      No more Kalima, You’ve ruined my image? :-). Cold and rainy(?) today? Always good on the joints. No sunrise over the bridge. Good morning dear.

  8. boomer1949 says:

    A wonderful story and one with which I can identify. Been there, done that, bought (no not the tee shirt), but the little black dress.

  9. bitohistory says:

    That was a very enjoyable read. Don’t let nellie see it, she will write a screen play on it.~smile~

  10. AdLib says:

    What a wonderfully written, affirming tale, well done Questinia!

    I’ve discovered that the adamant rejection of “girly” things is often done out of insecurity, a fear that if a girl/woman was to attempt to look pretty, she might not stack up to others and be rejected as not being pretty.

    So by not competing, you can’t lose. Going the anti-feminine route means not being judged or rejected. However, the insecurity that spawns the desire for such a person to avoid “competing” for “pretty”, remains within the person and continues to influence them.

    The cool story you just described may have been such a case.

    Though it does sound more like Cinderella but with a boot-shoe instead of a glass slipper!

    • Questinia says:

      So true. Even if the girl is beautiful but has been overlooked (as in this case) the mirror in the eyes of the other doesn’t exist.
      Girls are all smooth sailing until they reach puberty. Breasts and sundry other reality altering hormonal extravaganzas can set the stage for how they do down the line.

      Unfortunately, it’s a topic not discussed. Instead it’s addressed through paying attention to external manifestations of behaviors and mood swings by teachers and parents. Not through educating both the girls, their families and teachers as to their underpinnings.

      The shoe-boots, incidentally, rocked hard!
      No didn’t get a pair.

      • AdLib says:

        You didn’t get a pair…yet.

        As you say, it’s the self image that these girls see, they can’t see what others do when they look in a mirror.

        Like anorexic girls who think they look fat but look at girls who are healthy as looking fine.

        It really is amazing that so much about the real world that people have to cope with is not taught…despite the fact that its been going on for a very long time.

        For instance, I had to learn on the street that you have to cut cocaine with baby laxative to maximize your ROI. I mean come on, that’s such a basic thing for any high school student to know.

        • Questinia says:

          BTW, what exactly to you mean by “pair”?

        • Questinia says:

          I come from the East Coast where we cut it with Drano to simultaneously “rush and flush”.

          Anorexia is the unhealthy step beyond this. In order to gain attention and acceptance the girl starves herself to become more and more invisible. Because that’s exactly how she feels. Anorexia addresses everything she wants… being thin, expressing her real feelings, getting back at mommy and daddy passive aggressively, gaining attention.

        • bitohistory says:

          Baby laxative???
          No you go to the health food store and……
          nuff said.

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