Read Surveys (By Author)
1. When do you feel at your most attractive?
When I am by myself. I feel absolutely glowing in the evening, with music playing, with nothing to do, just stretching and moving and dancing whichever way my body wants to go, reaching up high and rolling down low, listening, listening to myself, celebrating every light little sway and swell and motion.
I also get a jolt of pride when someone who I really really want to think I am beautiful and lovely says something to indicate they think I am. Like my boyfriend, who usually doesn't comment on my appearance--when he walks in the bathroom and I am soaking in the tub and he says, "you look really beautiful right now," it makes me kind of tingle. But it's a secondary feeling of attractiveness, one which in a way doesn't feel as deep as when I'm by myself. Which is strange because the very word 'attractive' kind of implies you're attract-ING someone or something. I don't know. I think I just feel genuinely wonderful and attractive from the inside when I am alone, just feeling all the wonderful things my body can do, and it feels unshakable.
2. Do you notice women on the street? If so, what sort of women do you tend to notice or admire?
Yeah, I definitely do. Who I notice or who draws my eye feels pretty consistent, though the thoughts or feelings that follow tend to depend a lot on how I'm already feeling at the time--that is, whether I feel this great happiness and excitement in seeing something sort of in common with someone else, appreciating them gladly for who they are, and feeling confident in me, or, alternately, feeling kind of small and scared and a little jealous or competitive when I'm not already feeling great about myself. But yeah, I typically notice women who have a boldness about them. Older women with simple style and big bright scarves or necklaces; women with glowing skin and radiant smiles or clever eyes; women who are very classically beautiful; women who seem like they have interesting stories (though I suppose every person has an interesting story); women who have some quality about them that reminds me of something inside myself that either wants to grow or is thriving.
3. What are some things you admire about how other women present themselves?
I admire when a woman has a sort of flavor about her. Even if I can't pinpoint what it is, when I see someone whose presentation makes me think, makes me want to mull it over for a bit, I like that.
4. Was there a moment in your life when something “clicked” for you about fashion or dressing or make-up or hair? What? Why did it happen then, do you think?
I've gone through many rather distinct style phases, occurring most drastically and rapidly through middle and high school, and evening out a bit through college and up until the present day. I've always struggled with the concept of dressing for myself versus dressing for other people, and I remember, in a period of pretty high self-esteem, asking myself, "Would you rather be enviable or inspiring?" The question sort of related to the idea that when I am feeling a little frantic or worried or anxious while getting ready, it's usually because my mind is spinning thinking about how I'll be received by the myriad of projected people I imagine will be scrutinizing me, and I'm usually trying to make myself really likable somehow, and it usually doesn't go very well. I never feel that pleased with how I look and I'm being hard on myself. And that's usually because I'm being fueled by this weird competitive thing, I'm kind of trying to be this enviable person that people will like or want or want to be like, but it's like, exclusive, it's more like I want to look better than other people and be more attractive or more desirable. It just feels crappy. But then other times, when I notice I'm having fun as I'm getting ready, feeling inspired, seeing colors that just make me light up inside and generally enjoying the whole process, I'm usually thinking very little about how I'll be perceived/received. I'm just having a good time. And I think, that's way more of what I want to project into the world, if anything--that sense that I am trying things I like, making choices without the heaviness of worry or fear, and that kind of heart behind presenting oneself is, I think, way more inclusive. People get the sense that you're not trying to stomp others down on your way to the top, you're not even trying to get to "the top." There is no top. You're just trying to tap into something fun and joyful and wonderful, something there's plenty of for everyone. And I hope that when one person, me or anyone else, does tap into that, it's inspiring to other people. It doesn't say, "I look so perfect, you could never achieve this." It says, "I am having a great time, I'm doing what I want, and you can too."
5. What are some shopping rules you wouldn’t necessarily recommend to others but which you follow?
Hmm, nothing's really coming to me on this one.
6. What are some rules about dressing you follow, but you wouldn't necessarily recommend to others?
Same with this one. I'm sure I have some bizarre things I always look for/do, but nothing specific is coming to mind.
7. What is the most transformative conversation you have ever had on the subject of fashion or style?
I remember driving up into the hills once with a friend I had known since elementary school, though never all that well, someone who was so intelligent and so articulate and had always done so well in school, was always seen as a perfect guy, and at this time, in high school, he was changing a little, he was just a little less clean-cut and a little more scruffy and dreamy-eyed and it was like the perfect-seeming self so many people had been seeing was getting more complex. People were wondering about him, like, what's going on with him? And I had started to have a crush on him. Anyway, we drove out to these huge windmills and parked and sat at the base of one and just talked and talked, talked about anything really thoughtfully and it was great, and I remember him saying why can't people just wear what they want? What would the world be like if people just wore the things they liked, and it didn't matter if you were male and the things you liked were skirts or flowers or whatever, if there were just no cut-and-dry expectations for what people of each gender were to wear. If people just decided, I like this, I'm drawn to this, and so this is what I'm going to wear. And I didn't get the impression it was like this simple situation where he was like wanting to wear skirts and so he was thinking how unjust it was that he was expected not to, I mean I didn't even get the impression he wanted to wear skirts at all, although I could have been wrong. It just seemed like he was questioning things, questioning why anyone has to be afraid to present themselves in any particular way at all. Because people can't. Without being hated, and feared, and harassed, and abused. It's so absurd, and it's so real. Anyway, at that time that wasn't really something I had thought about, and I really admired everything about what he was saying and how he was saying it. I still think about that sometimes.
8. Do you have a unified way of approaching your life, work, relationships, finances, chores, etc.? Please explain.
Not really right now. I'm 25 and everything feels really confusing. I guess the one thread that runs through everything is just to keep trying, keep going. Everything else I've been through that's been hard and confusing, with time, has become more clear. So I'm just trying to keep my chin up and everything that feels uncertain or overwhelming, I'm either trying to find a good system for, redefine an old system for, try new ways of approaching, or, at the very least, realize what's not working and make a note of it. Right now, it feels like a lot of things, but I think I'm slowly working toward a little more simplicity, a little less worrying, a little more acceptance, and finding my sense of humor about life instead of feeling like everything is so serious all of the time.
9. Are there any clothing (or related) items that you have in multiple? Why do you think you keep buying this thing?
Oh yes! I have a ridiculous number of full/a-line skirts, most with elastic waists that hit me right at my natural waist, and many with pockets. I have bright colors, neutrals, florals, and even a terrific chocolatey-mahogany full leather skirt, which does indeed have pockets. Most of my clothes fit together fairly well color-wise; I tend to like blues and browns, peachy persimmons and classic red, cream and oatmeal, black, and accents of mustard or olive. I accessorize with rich whisky-colored leather almost always--with a bag or boots or a pair of flats. The skirts I think I am drawn to so much because they just feel like me. I can run and move in them, but they are also silly and delightful and pretty to me. I like to look at them, I like when they swing and swish. They make people smile. I also own a lot of dresses with the same shape, full-skirted and fitted at the waist, which I wear mostly with cardigans. I like thinking about the women who wore these things before me, what they saw when they wore them, any adventures they went on, or if they wore them and loved them or just wore them because they were expected to.
10. Have you ever successfully given someone a present of jewelry or clothing that you continue to feel good about?
Oh yes again! Although I have a strong connection with a lot of the things I find for my wardrobe, it is not always a possessive one. Sometimes I find something and love it so much, and maybe it is three dollars, so I buy it! And perhaps I wear it a few times, but find it doesn't quite feel right on me. If ever a friend sees it and says, "oh my gosh, that is so great," I get so excited to have found someone who appreciates whatever it is but who might be able to celebrate it and use it better than I've been able to! I've given away a lot of the things I've loved best in my wardrobe, and I don't think I've ever regretted it. The times when someone has done that for me, the thing has always become very cherished and special to me, and I feel so grateful, and I love the idea of spreading that around. My most beloved gift received was a pair of mustard yellow shoes from a friend I had just met (they were too big for her), and my most special gift given was a pair of bright red patent leather sandals to the same friend years later, now much closer (they were too small for me). I think the process of giving can also turn ordinary items into very special symbols that remind people of good things in hard times.
11. Is there any fashion trend you’ve refused to participate in and why?
I notice that when something I've been wearing a lot of starts to become really popular, I usually stop wearing it. For example, I was wearing a lot of polka-dots for a while, and really loved them and thought nothing would ever make me stop wearing polka-dots. Then I started seeing polka-dots everywhere, and it happened! I lost interest. But I've also noticed that once the swell of a trend has subsided, I pull out the once-loved things and start wearing them again : -)
12. Can you say a bit about how your mother’s body and style has been passed down to you, or not?
My wonderful mama. What I could maybe say about this is that I think my mother is one of the most beautiful women in the entire world, absolutely everything about her, and like a lot of women, I don't think she sees herself in the same wonderful golden light that I do. Maybe what I have learned somewhere deep inside me is that a body is a body is a body, and you're not going to hide what you or your body looks like from anyone, but probably, you don't even need to, because probably, it is really wonderful! I used to hate my body and try to hide or distort its shape a lot, but I don't really do that so much anymore. I am shaped how I am shaped. And just like I can see how very beautiful my mother's body is, I can see that I have nothing I should feel like I have to hide, and so why not delight in my particular shape instead?
13. Have you stolen, borrowed or adapted any dressing ideas or actual items from friends or family?
Most definitely. I've always been strongly influenced by the style of people close to me whom I admire, and like a little chameleon I often change to match them. But usually along the way, I find my own way of doing things.
14. Was there a point in your life when your style changed dramatically? What happened?
Throughout adolescence, my big dramatic shifts in style were certainly all about trying on different identities, trying to find a place for myself in the world. I always gravitated to style niches that were unusual or outside of what I saw most people wearing, but then I immersed myself in that style like a little safety net. So I think I've used changes in style to explore myself, and surrounded myself with the familiar/tried-and-true aspects of certain bubbles of style to do so in a way that still felt supported, felt like part of something, sort of safely trying new things until I could stand on my own a little more and make choices about what to wear more freely.
15. Is there anything political about the way you dress?
Maybe so. I tend not to dress very sexually, and I think I mostly do that because I really want to be able to look people in the eye and say to them, "hey, we are both humans." It's really easy to be somewhere out in public and to feel like, especially around certain men, they aren't really even seeing my humanness, they are seeing something else, they're seeing some idea of a woman, they're seeing my body and it can feel really creepy. But I find when I dress in a way that feels fun and creative and enjoyable to me, but also feels a little different, or in a weird way kind of old-fashioned and a little modest, I don't know, maybe it makes people think of their mothers...haha. I really like to smile at everyone and if they say hello, to say hello back to them and not feel afraid, but feel like, hey, yeah, we're connecting right now and it doesn't have to be sexual, it doesn't have to be about power, it doesn't have to be threatening, I'm me, you're you, we're saying hello to each other. That's pretty out there when I write it, I think that sounds kind of strange, but that's just sort of how I think about it I guess, if I try to explain it. I don't know if it really answers the question, if it's political. I'll also say, because I think dressing sexually or not-sexually or anywhere in between is so so so so subjective and ambiguous and also very very sensitive, that I don't think there'a a right or wrong way to dress on the sexual-spectrum, or any set outcomes that come from how you do dress in this regard. I think it's really complex. Like I don't think dressing sexually means you can't look people in the eye or anything, I mean definitely not. For me, a lot of the history of what led up to me even saying what I'm saying now was a huge amount of fear and feeling like my body was sexualized at a very young age in a way it shouldn't have been, so I think for me personally the way I dress is also a way to feel in control and safe, like creating a boundary saying, no, I'm not my sexiness first, I'm this strange person wearing a floral skirt first. I probably want to hide the feeling of sexiness because it's a super scary vulnerable place for me, it's definitely not the first way I want to relate to pretty much anyone.
16. Please describe your body.
My body tells me a lot about how I am doing. My body is flexible and likes to move, but gently. My body is strong, and when it is tense and stiff I know I have not been taking care of it and other things. My body has ten toes and two feet and two ankles, two legs with knees and thighs, hips and buttocks and a whole pelvic region, a tummy and a belly button and freckles and moles. My body has a tiny third nipple hidden under one breast and two rather large nipples on two soft breasts, above ribs and under collar bones and between shoulders that pop and crack and arms and hands that like to do very many things. My body has organs too, that thankfully seem to do their jobs well : -)
17. Please describe your mind.
Oh, my mind. My mind is sometimes very calm and even and steady, and sometimes very tumultuous and spinning and tangled up. I like my mind.
18. Please describe your emotions.
My emotions are the weather.
19. What are you wearing on your body and face, and how is your hair done, right at this moment?
Body: Kelly green knitted A-line skirt that hits just below the knee, underpants, black tank top and comfy cotton bra, sagey minty green loose-knit sweater over top
Face: A hint of kind of light-mauve-maroon-berry colored lipstick
Hair: Recently-cut sweepy little bangs, the rest pulled back in a ponytail (a short one!) with two bobby pins for the stragglers
20. In what way is this stuff important, if at all?
Writing about it makes me feel honest and like I'm learning about myself, which I think are two good things, usually. It's stuff I definitely have thoughts about, and don't often articulate, so it's nice to ponder. And almost everybody gets dressed and ready for the day. It's interesting to hear about how, and why.
What’s your birth date? Where were you born and where do you live now?
September 1, 1989
Born in Eastern Washington, USA living now in Northwest Washington, USA.
Say anything you like about your cultural/ethnic/economic background.
Caucasian, grew up lower-middle class, working full-time now doing things I love that don't pay a lot of money but that I am very glad to do
What kind of work do you do?
Seamstress, story-reader, waitress and host, crafter
Are you single, married, do you have kids, etc.?
Legally single, in a long-term relationship
Please say anything you like about yourself that might put this survey into some sort of context.
I've been wondering a lot about smart phones lately...
How do you feel after filling out this survey?
Really lovely! It's the most concentrated writing I've done in a while and it feels great.
Meisha likes cats and sending letters with odd stamps and quiet spaces and people watching and sunshine streaming in through windows and all kinds of music.