I certainly didn’t see myself as Venus, goddess of love and beauty. But the director did. And when I put on the dress, I finally saw it, too.
I was not a fashionable girl. Most of us have fashion faux-pas’ but I think I was especially challenged in this department, on account of my extreme insecurity and early years as a tomboy. When I was young, I thought the best item of clothes ever invented were Toughskins. As in, the Sears brand jeans, for kids. I thought it was SO COOL that I could fall and fall again off my skateboard and those jeans didn’t rip or tear. My knees were perpetually bruised and battered, but those cords didn’t show a scuff! I especially liked the brown ones, because brown was one of my favorite colors. Seriously. Other girls liked pink, and some liked purple or red. I liked brown.
I remember one day in 4th grade wearing brown tights to school, under an atypical skirt. They were riding up my butt and on my walk down Avila street I looked around to see if anyone was around. Empty. I hiked up my skirt and rearranged my tights to untwist from my upper thighs. Immediately I heard a loud “hoooowah” and turned around to see Emily leaning out of her window up the block. Spotted. That whole day Emily teased me about wearing ‘pantyhose’. Look at Lisa all dressed up fancy in her pantyhose. They’re NOT pantyhose I tried to protest, they’re tights! But it was no use, everyone thought I was wearing pantyhose and I was mortified. I never wore those brown tights again. I bet Emily turned out to be a lesbian. I should look her up; I bet she is cool.
In fact one of my most memorable fashion disasters was school picture day in the fifth grade. I had forgotten it was picture day, and since I wasn’t too fond of having my hair washed, or cleaning in general, my hair was greasy. I wore a navy blue crew neck t-shirt (most likely a polyester blend) and my favorite brown cords. Was I still wearing Toughskins at age 9? Probably. You can’t see the brown cords in the picture, but you sure can see the grease in my hair.
One of my most favorite outfits in middle school was black and yellow. I got some black cords as a hand-me-down from our super fashionable upstairs neighbor Dee who dyed her hair. One time my sister and I went up to borrow some milk for my mom, and Dee had all this reddish brown gunk on her hair and the white towel around her neck. I didn’t know anyone who dyed their hair. I thought it was fabulous. My (older) sister thought it was stupid. She told my mom who thought it was stupid, too. I also got this sort of see-through yellow shirt from Dee and I wore it on top of a black turtle neck. My mom said I looked ‘cheap’. She didn’t approve of wearing black. Funny to think about that now. My ten years in New York, and I still think it is a bit risqué to wear black. All because of that hideous yellow and black outfit. I felt so cool every time I wore it.
Freshman year in high school I was the only girl who wore a jeans jacket. OK, they did come back but this was before they were in. Trouble was, I would wear the jeans jacket, which was a bit too tight, with my blue jeans, which were also a bit too tight. I was not a svelte pubescent and it was not a good look. I had no idea.