A Hat, A Ruffle, And An Identity Crisis

I don’t know what’s happening to me. I’m drawn to girly things all of a sudden. Now that January’s almost over, I decided it was time to get a 2012 calendar for my Franklin planner. I like to get a jump on the year like that. The inserts have flowers and berries and shit. Not floral like kittens and teddy bears and inspirational sayings floral.  Franklin does have a family of inserts called “Her Point Of View” and it seems to consist of stick figure women sitting alone and wearing hats. Oh, there’s one with a group of sticks holding their sticks together in a circle. I can’t tell that there’s a quote, but I bet there is. I bet it’s something about how friends are God’s flowers.

And let’s stop a minute and talk about women in hats. I like a hat. I am particularly well-suited to the cloche and the beret, but I rarely wear either. There are several reasons for this, the main one being I have a gigantic gourd. My head is huge. Like I was one of those toddlers who looked perpetually on the verge of collapse due to the gigantic pumpkin on my neck. In fact, you know that scene in Mermaids where Christina Ricci is running around with the pumpkin on her head? I looked exactly like that. With or without the pumpkin. True fact. Ask my mama. THE POINT IS that a cute little vintage cloche generally does not fit my giant noggin because, apparently, women corseted their heads in the early-to-mid-twentieth century. Now, this is fine because when one wears a hat, one is transformed in to The Manic Pixie. She wears hats because she is zany. I am not zany. I am many things, but zany is not one of them. Were I regularly to wear the kinds of hats I like, people would assume they could bring me inspirational sayings about women in red hats and that I would suddenly decide to learn to tap dance or play the tuba only to abandon that pursuit suddenly to learn how to twirl a baton or become passionate about making the perfect macaron. I would also have to be sassy because I’m on the chubby side and everyone knows the chubby girl in the hat is the sassy best friend who pines for Andrew McCarthy so she eats her feelings, which is what she’s doing when he shows up on her doorstep and she answers the door with a little frosting (she was eating it straight from the tub, natch) on her cheek and he adorably wipes it off then kisses her and you know he’s a good guy because he ended up with the zany, sassy chubby girl who wears red lipstick. And plays the accordion.

Where was I?

Oh, flowers. No, the inserts I have are more graphic. Just one color and a nice white silhouette of berries and leaves and stuff. But they are still, in my book, girly. And I don’t know where this girly thing is coming from. I mean, look at the layout of the blog–pink with hints of Hollywood Regency. I have the need to paint something pink, although I think I’ve ruled out the living room (Chuck? YOU’RE WELCOME) and settled on a library table. I cooed over a picture of some sort of flower I found on Pinterest. Don’t know what they were other than pink with a healthy dose of Gaussian blur. Yesterday I admired a coat with ruffles. I’m  not to the point of lusting over that Anthopologie shower curtain with the ruffles. You know the one. It’s the law that every single craft blog on the planet must show you how to make it at home. My search history shows evidence of operators like “girly”. This morning? I chose a brown sweater over a black one. I don’t know who I am anymore.

What’s interesting is that I’ve gone through significant style phases. I’m just off a long infatuation with WPA posters. I still love them, but don’t feel the need to have every single one in my house. I veered into Colonial American, Nantucket cottage, and Danish modern without so much as a raised eyebrow from my friends. So why is my sudden desire for blue velvet cushions and wildflowers in Mason jars bothering me? Because I still believe that pink makes me dumb. I believe that in the same way I believe if I get rid of most of the books we have in the house that we will never read again, people will think I’m dumb.

I’m not dumb, I understand that. But somehow I’ve come to believe that holding onto those old sociology textbooks and novels which took me four years to finish, (The Corrections. Not gonna lie. Four years) which I have no intention of ever opening again, will make me seem somehow intellectual when what I really am is a reasonably well-read woman who does not have the space for three years worth of texts on class warfare. At some point in my life I decided that because I find the whole concept of the Disney princess revolting in the same way I find chitlins revolting, that something pink or velvet or shiny makes me stupid.

I have managed to politicize my curtains. 

I can wear black head to toe and not think anything of it, but if I wear a pink t-shirt with pink flip flops I’ll change one or the other before going out. Most days. I realized I was hiding perfume bottles after I got married because I didn’t want Chuck to have to look at my girly stuff. Which is weird because you should see what I’ll leave out in the bathroom. And I like the fact he has some of his grandfather’s pipes on his dresser–a very manly thing, right? But that’s okay. Apparently I believe tobacco jars are smart, but perfume bottles are dumb. And, even as I type that, I’m thinking of the tobacco jars I use for flower arrangements and catchalls and the beautiful perfume bottles which are hidden, for the most part, in a china cabinet. I read decorating magazines and the woman always makes a point of talking about the “masculine touches” in the master bedroom. Apparently a brown ruffle is more manly than a red one.

Last year the only inserts for his planner Chuck could find were pale blue and had clouds or something on them. Inspirational quotes were involved. I said something about them and his response was, “I’m secure enough in my masculinity to use frou-frou inserts.” So why am I not secure enough in my femininity to use my flowery ones?

2 thoughts on “A Hat, A Ruffle, And An Identity Crisis

  1. It’s not that fine a line between dressing like a Disney princess and pulling off something in shades of blush or bashful. Still, I get it. The only pink I’ll wear with any degree of confidence is my PP t-shirt. After that, all I see in adult lady pink is “Susan G. Komen for the Cure” (TM)-style naff designed to gain the widest array of profits to causes least interested in women’s health (I’m looking straight at you Kentucky Fried). Yes, that b-s just happened, but it totally re-affirms my own repulsion towards the color pink.

    You don’t give yourself enough credit for shying away from that color. Victoria’s Secret did a pretty thorough job stripping pink of any remaining mature applications with its whole line of slutty co-ed lounge wear. Pink is clearly not a color for a women that wants to be taken seriously.

    But, you’re right. When your heart’s song is written in notes of pink, maybe you should give in now and sing along. And as you’re a Southern Lady, I’m sure you will be forgiven your eccentricities:

  2. In the olden days, happy golden days, some editions of the Nancy Drew series had illustrations of Nancy and her “chums” wearing pert hats. (Those books are real collector’s items now, and I wish I’d saved them.) Ned Nickerson, Nancy’s “beau,” wore a fedora and drove a fabulous roadster, and Nancy’s “pal,” a gal named George, sometimes tagged along wearing a small plain hat. I would stare at those chapeaux in wonderment because they said so much about the status of the people in the drawings. I think that hats, as much as clothes, really do confer status on the wearer and that — more than style or whimsy — has been one of their chief functions. And now, if you would be so kind, please tell me where I might get a fabulous pumpkin hat.

Just spit it out, already!

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