Note: This is not one of those “what you look like doesn’t matter, it’s what’s on the inside that counts” narratives, though that is true. Kindness and compassion are much more important than pretty hair. You get what I’m trying to say. This is about art, confidence, and self expression. A personal experience sort of thing. Okay, cool, everybody be kind to yourselves and try not to judge.
My relationship with fashion is an evolving thing. What do you imagine when you think of those mannequins they have at clothing stores? Maybe how it’s weird when they put wigs on them or how they’re just a bit terrifying? Personally, I think of how I am like them. No, not a piece of plastic with problematic body proportions, a human shaped blank slate. Maybe that sounds depressing or scary but stick with me. I’m like an Olivia shaped blank canvas. All the inside things are there, like lungs and blood and personality, but the outside is changeable by the day.
When you’re creating a piece of art every little detail contributes to the piece. Color, line, shape, shadow. Elements of design that come together and transform. I am not known for my high levels of confidence. If anything I’m know for my high levels of anxiety. But, I am an artist and I choose to design myself. There is this misconception that wearing makeup and nice clothes regularly is always to impress someone. This is sometimes true, if you decide to try and impress someone you might choose to dress in something that highlights your beauty, but what people need to understand is that a lot of the time when somebody looks nice it’s just because it makes them feel good. It’s like a costume, in a good way.
I love costumes. I have a theatre background, I cosplay, and I design makeup and costumes for characters I draw and write. I feel confident in them. They transform me, but they don’t hide who I am, they highlight different parts of my personality.
When I dress in normal, non-costume, clothes, I have a similar mentality. The clothing and makeup I choose disguise me as whatever Olivia I want to be that day, typically one who can feel more confident in herself, and in the disguise I find truth. And I like to look cool. I am learning that I can treat myself as one of my art pieces. I’ve never been great with positive self image, but if I can make a portrait look good, than I can make myself look good too. And, you know, some days I wear sweatshirts and don’t brush my hair because college, what can you do? But, if I want to make little curly designs with my eyeliner or wear 7 rings at once or put my hair in buns like Kaylee from Firefly, then I’m gonna do it, regardless of what the world says I’m supposed to look like. Cause…ya know…I want to.
I like the idea of looking otherworldly, stepping outside of the normal realm of beauty to create my myself each day. Fashion is expression. A way to show the world what you feel and live in that. Whether you low key look like a dark fairy all the time like me, or you don’t understand how to eyeshadow and don’t want to, it doesn’t matter, your self expression is your business. And, I doubt everyone uses fashion as a tool like this. It doesn’t matter. Of course, without my decorations I’m still me, whatever innate Olivianess I have lives on, but, it’s a way that I, as an artist, handle my anxiety and…well…look cool. To myself at least, and that’s the point.