I remember my first favorite pair of shoes. I was about ten years old, so it was sometime in the early 2000’s, and they were Skechers sneakers. They were shiny black patent leather with sparkling silver glitter and chunky white platforms.
I begged for them in the Nordstrom store at the mall. Reasonably, my parents worried that the shoes were too racy for a girl my age, but they ultimately indulged my pleading.
I was a good, quiet kid. Those Skechers were as close as I got to playing out my saucy Spice Girl fantasies. I tied the thick white laces up with pride.
I also remember my first favorite piece of clothing. It was a tiered, multi-printed patchwork skirt, and I held onto it for years. I’m wearing it in two of the four childhood photos that I have pinned to my bedroom bulletin board; between the two, my hair and height differ by at least six inches, my age by at least a year, but that skirt is the same, and my smile, with my head cocked coyly at an angle.
When I outgrew the skirt and passed it down to my sister, I cried.
There was something whimsical about the flounciness of it – the way it opened up like petals circling my waist. I remember fluffing it around me when I sat down to play at the piano, pretending I was a professional performer with a sparkle in my eye, tucking a bit of unwieldy hair behind my ear.
I started straightening that unwieldy hair in high school. Straight hair exuded refined coolness – as if ironing out my frizzed curls meant ironing my personality to sleek and smooth.
Today, I still wear my hair straight sometimes. Other times, I let it run wild. It depends on my mood.
My current favorite shoes are a different pair of black sneakers: faux-leather Adidas, studded with tiny gold hearts. Their soles are splitting apart, but I can’t find another pair to adequately replace them. They’re my butt-kicking shoes — casual, stylish, sporty, and girly, all at the same time.
I wear lipstick more days than not. One simple swipe makes me feel bolder — bold lips, bold mood. Often, I choose bright red; other times, a deep mauve, almost purple.
It’s all a costume. It just depends on who I want to be. We each wear costumes every day, without realizing we’re doing it.
The rips in your jeans. The rings on your fingers. Your baseball cap, backwards. The way you part your hair.
Your resume is a costume. Even your latest Instagram post is a costume.
Every bit serves a purpose in playing out a particular character. It’s the difference between who you are, unguarded, and who you want to be.