Sunday, 24th June 2012
T-zone meant one of two things when I was a teenager. It was either a. An intersection that involved stopping your automobile to look left and right or b. An unfortunate shiny space that existed below the hairline but above the chin, and somewhere in between the cheeks. I grew to resent the term with a similar loathing to the problem area itself. As though singled out by the big man in the sky, I found it personally offensive. I mean, it seemed punishment enough that I had to watch Shane marry Charlene alone in the living room with a cleansing pad stuck across my nose. What more did I have to do?? And as for Dirty Dancing? Puh. Leave that to the experts. I was never going to have the time of my life with skin like this.
Pigeonholed and backed into a corner, I did what any other self-respecting, overtly hormonal teenage girl with mood control issues does. I invested heavily in makeup. Seeing the light, I snatched at multiple bottles of foundation, stockpiled wads of dulling powder and invested in niche-market blotting pads. Rejecting the notorious over-sleeping reputations of my teenage colleagues, I rose early, blotchy skinned and bleurry, and strutted to the bathroom. Barefoot on the mat, I peered critically at my features- just far enough away that I wasn't cross-eyed, but close enough to be suitably disgusted. Only satisfied after making things noticeably worse by poking and squeezing the various protrusions ejecting from my face, I then grappled fervently at my over-loved, stained makeup bag and squeezed what-ever my fingers came into contact with directly on my person.
Now, my momentary fascination with my pre-world facing program at this time of my life has actually very little to do with this problematic T-zone. Or even makeup for that matter. No. The real fascination- the one that causes my nose to wrinkle up, my lips to purse and my head to slowly shake in abject horror- is the fact I remained so closed off to the fact that I was legally blind.
You heard me.
Whilst browsing aisles full of multi-generational cosmetics, methylated-spirited cleansing wipes and skin-stripping solutions, it appears that I bypassed the stands housing products suitable for my albino-like complexion, and instead honed in on those specifically concocted for an African-american recently returned from Bali. Visually confused and without support, I then proceeded to select a six shades lighter, concrete-based powder, which I obviously thought matched my previous selection nicely.
And this is not the worst of it.
Once at home and confronted with a mirror, further atrocities resulted. I forgot that any part of my body existed other than my face. Self-created and unregulated, photographic evidence suggests that time and time again, I created an orange line similar to the Berlin wall that divided the my head from the chin up from the rest of my body, neck down. And then I applied powder.
Emerging from the bathroom like an alopecia patient who had been locked in the solarium, my parents did nothing to alert me to the dire situation. A fine line between unconditional love and child abuse, I then proceeded to walk around in public day in, day out, failed by family members, friends and my own retina's.
The situation eventually outgrown, one can only muse as to the lost friendships, job interviews and random teenage party pashes that had been prevented by this solid fluro line. And in those quiet moments of reflection, all that is left is to be enormously grateful that it was far too early for Facebook.
Years passed, and a complicated, love-hate relationship with makeup continued on.
There was the carefree years- the years of even oil production and scanty product application, save a lick of mascara here and there to prove I actually had eyelashes. The glamour years, of hot red lips and devil-may-care smoky eyes- single, footloose and fancy free. And naturally, now, the baby years- the hours of constant feeding and frantic days, when the nights become a blur of waking so frequent you cannot tell if you just woke up or have actually just gone to sleep.
And it is these years that a real appreciation, a ripening, sensual, passionate love with makeup has once again manifested. Now evenly complexioned, my skin heaves with constant, gentle yearning for sleep that sighs out of my no-time-to-moisturise pores and the darkened bits under my eye-cream-is-too-expensive eyes.
So, on that one day a week, usually a Wednesday, when I leave the confines of my home and venture into the big city for a day of delights filled with grocery shopping and a random sneaky latte consumed at arm's length whilst on the run, I prostrate before the goddess of makeup for the gifts that she bestows and thank god I am not a heterosexual man who doesn't have such wares at his disposal.
Now aware of such terms such as "suitable colour" and "blending", I caress my little tub of mineral foundation, laugh cheekily along side my mascara, and pout merrily at the mirror along with my lipstick. For I now know, that although our relationship has been troubled in the past, my little blue bag full of random potions is just trying to be my friend.
So as I bump into an acquaintance...
"Hi Jane! Wow, you look great, things are going well?"
"Oh yes, it's easy! Sleep schmeep!" (Cue frivolous, carefree laughter)
... I know that I have you, Makeup, to thank.
Side by side, we march forward.
Let's get through this together.
Jane is a writer, editor and media strategist. She runs her own business, Urban Scribe, writing content on behalf of others in all shapes and forms. Also, check out her other blog, Frilly Undies!
Jane is also half way through her first children's novel and 1 / 100th of the way through raising her first child. Jane can be contacted via email or the contact page on Urban Scribe.
Sunday, 17th June 2012
I'm sashaying down the catwalk.
The crowd- it's massive by the way- has gone completely silent save the gentle swoosh swoosh of my self-knitted, 100% silk, organically grown dress. Let's face it, I look hot. This new label of mine? It's gonna be a smash hit. Look at their faces! It's clear.
They can't get enough of me.
I pivot at the end of the runway, spinning effortlessly on my 6 inch heels. I glimpse my husband in the crowd. Our baby sits in his lap. Little Snooch looks over at me, and I take a moment to admire his fabulous ensemble. I can't believe I created that with my own, bare hands. The colour combination is just perfect. That woolen vest I knitted in that spare ten minutes I had before throwing together a Nigella-esque feast for dinner really caps it off.
I need to start a baby range. I mean look at him! The people need me. My talent is really sickening.
For a moment, time slows. The flash bulbs catch the gentle accents of burnt gold cotton I have delicately embroidered around the hem. The reflection spits shards of soft tangerine into the room.
My label? It's like nothing anyone has ever seen.
Wait... Was I asleep???
As much as I would love to admit otherwise, the simple truth is that when it comes to object of self-creation, I rank somewhere between "yeah, not good" and making one feel nauseous. The natural solution is obviously complete denial. The way forward? At all times maintaining a healthy distance between myself, and... well... the necessity for me to create anything able to be categorised as craft.
It's not for lack of wanting. Nope. I love to be all hot-diggity with a pair of knitting needles. I'd love myself to death in some self-created knitwear. But no. The stuff I make? It's bad, no doubt about it. I may soothe myself In those dark alone moments, with gentle murmurs "it's ok, you're just not the crafty type. It's ok that you create garments that only a mother could love (and let's face it even then she would have to be incredibly understanding). You have other things you are good at! Right? Right?" but this sad, sad truth remains concretely and resolutely unchanged. An affliction embedded, never grown out of.
On reflection, however, given my current predicament, I believe there have been forces of nature trying to warn me of the dangers of craft from as early on as my teenage years. At this point I was both physically and aesthetically crippled by an uncontrollable deluge of blonde hair that sprouted like a wild mushroom in several directions from the centre of my scalp. My neck was constantly sore from a head that was pulled sharply downward towards my toes, an earthward tilt created solely by the weight of my fringe. Paris may well have embraced it as a form of haute couture, but no child wants Hiroshima as its doppelganger.
My initial abhorrence for objects of my own creation, incidentally, is directly connected to one woman, who henceforth shall be known as Miss Prick. In a bout of domestic inspiration previously unheard of, I voluntarily enrolled in a textiles class at school- time, one might add, that would have been better spent scouring the pages of “What haircut suits you?” Magazine. Miss Prick, it turns out, was a prodigal sewing Nazi and would come to monitor my progress so closely that her breath would send my already voluminous hair in cascading waves towards the ceiling. Unsupportive and overly aggressive, Miss Prick was very much “safety first” in a regimented control-freak kind of way, and consequently no loose living teenager such as myself was allowed to venture forth on a machine without first gaining their “Sewing License”.
As trivial as this may sound, the “SL” was no laughing matter. Brandishing a ruler and a blank sheet of paper, Miss Prick would draw a line in waterproof ink that she demanded you precisely follow and then proceeded to stand over you from the point where you were nervously threading the bobbin with your clammy, hormonal teenage fingers. Unlike half of the world’s population above the age of three forced to sew for numerous hours daily with minimal light, I was forced to pass a multi-staged driving test under a fluorescent lampshade on a Janome 600 before I could make my own pencil case. I didn’t know it at the time, but this occasion marked the beginning of my rage against the machine. After felling several rainforests in a bid to gain my license, an entire term’s work saw me walk away with a pencil case that resembled little more than an off-centre cushion cover. And an ugly one at that.
Keeping in mind that I am all for creativity, this experience of crafty pathetic-ness, cemented a universal truth in my mind- the ability to sew a very straight line on a blank piece of paper cannot cancel out negative zero talent. Enough was enough. I took and deep breath and.... placing one hand on my still-hot machine and the other on my heart, I vowed, from this moment forward, not to sacrifice any more of my time in support of heinous garment production.
Having successfully shelved this experience to the shrivel-up-and-die part of my brain, I spent the following decade and then some completely ignoring any personal attempts at craft. It was only recently, as I innocently peeled back the shiny paper-ed envelope that that old familiar feeling came to rest in the bottom of my stomach; Miss Prick was back. A chameleon with a cause, Miss Prick had continued to lodge in the recesses of my adult brain long after I had left the shifty confines of her classroom. She had crossed water and landmasses. She had taken hold of my friends. And she had manifested as Knit Club.
Needless to say, I was more than a little surprised to hear that Knit Club, or to the cool kids, “Stitch and Bitch”, was the latest revolution to hit town. And worse still, I was invited. It was clear that further investigation was required.
Later on that week, I spotted some concrete pieces of evidence. Logging on to Facebook, I stumbled across an online photo album that cemented my worst suspicions; Knit Club was, indeed, a reality. Feeling like the lead character in the Da Vinci Code, a swift punch on my cursor arrow key revealed photo after photo of items of bobbly woolen-ness, a series of knitting action shots destroying any redeeming wild card thoughts that they had possibly just stumbled on some random wool and needles left at the same table. But this was no mistake. This was full blown knit club.
And it was clear this wasn’t the first time.
I festered on my invite a bit longer.
My inner dialogue at this point, naturally tried to reason with mental image of a voodoo doll uncannily similar to myself being repetitively stabbed with a series of coloured, blunt needles. I was obviously over-thinking this; no harm could come from a group of mother's coming together to knit every week, right? I was just being paranoid. It wouldn't matter that I was bad at it, surely!
I mean, right?
I gritted my teeth. I would not let Miss Prick ruin me.
Bracing myself against my desk, I looked over at Snooch. He looked back at me. I could have sworn he fingered his fancy hand knitted top that his aunty had sent from England but I couldn't be sure. Was he mocking me? Eye of the Tiger was playing in the background. Only in my mind but that doesn't detract from the fact it was perfect for the moment. I knew my limitations.
There was nothing left to do. I was going to have to stick with what I knew.
Although widely observed, it is a little known fact that the DNA strand that makes one an excellent knitter and great person of craftiness in general can, indeed, be obvious by outsiders pre- motherhood. It is true that one can knit, sew and perform feats of exquisite craftiness prior to the initiation to baby-dom and still be greatly admired. But the biggest truth- and the one craft-deficient people such as myself aim to keep undercover- is that it is really only after giving birth that the true power of the crafty gene really comes into it's own.
It's true. Once someone of crafty origins becomes blessed with a little person, who is for sometime mute and solely dependent on you for their fashion and body warmth needs, the truly excellent crafty genome begins to get excited. It's quivers and twitches, sending previously unforeseen talent out through the fingertips of their host-person, whenceforth hundreds of uber-garments for the self, friends and family come to be created by the wardrobe-ful. Naturally, all that is left for the seriously un-crafty (eh-herm), for those whose deficient DNA strands weep with the loss of never-to-be-seen self-made garments, is to wonder what might have been.
And then to clutch at straws.
Standing at the door of Knit Club headquarters, I felt myself grow slightly clammy. I had purchased knitting sticks, yes. Innocent enough. But below my dormant needles lay a large box, silent, preparing for the battle. I braced myself, my thumbs still quite indented from fervent knitting practice the night prior.
I sit down in my completely purchased outfit. Armed and ready, I place my box down on the table and peel back the lid. The gentle waft of baked goods floats into the air.
The knitters pause. They smile.
The goddess of the cocoa bean was right. It was just as I suspected. Chocolate was, indeed, the correct way forward.
And Miss Prick? Silenced with a brownie.
Jane is a writer, editor and media strategist. A one time ghost writer, Jane has written for publications both locally and abroad and now has her own business writing content on behalf of others in all shapes and forms. You can read her other blog, Frilly Undies.
Jane is also half way through her first children's novel and 1 / 100th of the way through raising her first child. Jane can be contacted via email