Tuesday, August 19, 2008

My Own Canvas

Photo Reuters via The SMH

Last night I was talking to a friend I haven't seen since high school. We recently got back in touch and as a result he has checked in on the blog a couple of times to see what I am up to. But it leaves him stumped. Just as I can't quite understand the nuances of his passion for cars, he has a difficult time understanding what this blog is all about. As he said, "It looks like you spend all day deciding what to wear and then you're so happy about it you have to tell the whole world." Given his genuine want to understand this foreign world, I set about trying to explain why I write this blog and what it is all about. Which of course, got me thinking. There are so many layers of answers to this question, but one of my great motivators is art.

Life can be as colourful or monotone as you chose to make it. When I started writing this blog I was feeling depressed by the lack of colour I saw around me. Living in the suburbs where a blow dry and a pair of diamante earrings is considered dressing up during the day, it just made me want to scream. But would I bend to become a part of the landscape? I had never done it growing up and I couldn't see a good reason to start now. Tired of seeing harried mothers in various shades of metaphorical fashion grey, I chose to challenge the status quo. Hence this blog was born.

Each day for me is another step on my quest to encourage beauty for beauty's sake, fashion for arts sake and glamour as a technique for self expression. I am often stopped in the course of my day and asked questions like, "Oh, are you going somewhere special for dinner tonight?" to which I answer, "No, just picking up my daughter from kinder." The antagonist in me finds the quizzical look that follows it so worth it too. It seems, particularly in the suburbs, that there is an unspoken rule that mothers are not allowed to dress with joy or flamboyance. Even when you do dress "nice", it is within a certain formulaic, mass marketed framework with very little real room allowed for self expression.

Having spent so many years in a corporate environment where my hair was not allowed to be blue, my suits not permitted to be emerald and my whole look had to be orchestrated to fit the companies persona; the chance to be answerable to no one but myself as a stay at home mum spelt fashion freedom to me. When did these past leather wearing, tongue piercing, pot smoking rebels become this mass of suburban mothers I see? Was there some genetically or socially predetermined switching time that I missed? Well thank god I did. Expressing my personality through fashion and whichever character I feel like on a given day, is one way that I retain my sense of individuality and sense of self in what can be a self sacrificing role.

I choose to add colour to my day, to paint with my imagination and bring my character to life. I choose to let my girls be a part of all this, being happier children with a happier mother. And I choose to take my colour to the suburban streets, pushing a pram in stilettos and fair welling my baby at kinder with red lipsticked kisses.


Anonymous said...

Good for you, Super K!
We all benefit from having glamour in our lives: I suspect the other mums have just gone the path of least resistance and "given up". It's a pity: thankfully you're here to inspire us!

By the way, since we met I've started blowdrying my hair every morning, and using the hot rollers too, when I have the time. See what a good effect you've had on me?

The Collector said...

Hmmm... you were working in the wrong company! One of my friends at work has a tongue piercing and multiple ear piercings + chunky black streaks in her blonde hair. We all work in a very corporate firm, but were allowed to express our individuality. We are very lucky!

Anyway, I think that you are awesome. I hope that when I'm a mother I am like you!

Liv/e in Both Senses said...

You've inspired me to make sure I don't lose me when I have kids. It's too often you see ladies that just let go of themselves because "they don't have time". Glad to know women out there aren't all the same :)

Heather said...

I just wanted to say that I think that you are just wonderful! Truly inspiring to me, I don't even have children yet and you have already insipred me to "clean up" my fashion act, and you know I really do feel better, I have always benn one to dress up, but now I do it alot more often, for no reason but to make myself feel good.

Sal said...

I'm a relative newcomer to your blog, SKM, but I'm also truly inspired by your style, your smarts, and now more than ever, your attitude toward fashion. Leading by example seldom works on complex, intellectually-driven behaviors ... but with something as instinctive as style and fashion, I feel that it can have a real impact. Many people don't realize how oppressive dark colors and ill-fitting forms can be until they SEE someone who has shunned these things.

Even if you get some sidelong glances from those suburbanites, I bet you've forced a handful of them to THINK a little more about why they dress the way they do. And that's valuable and worthwhile and awesome.

Kristen said...

And *this* is why I dig you so much! You are a fabulous inspiration to us all.

susie_bubble said...

You are 100% spot on when ppl making you feel you have to justify your fabulous outfit.... it is so silly....you could almost reverse that and say 'Why AREN'T you dressed to go somewhere special?'..... either way....it's a silly double standard... for some, you might be too dressy and too dressed down at the same time....anyhow, your attitude is exemplary...

WendyB said...

When people make comments like that -- men people -- I want to ask them about their interest in sports. I happen to think most sports are a waste of time and energy, yet I know guys who while away the day yelling at the TV and drinking beer...everyone has their own interest.

floraposte said...

Such a pity you felt the need to tone down your style while working in an office but I know how that is. You are so right to dress up every day now that you have the opportunity.

So many people go through life in a drab way, it is inspiring to see your outfits. Its good to be alive and your style celebrates that.

casey said...

BRAVO!!! I couldn't agree with you more! I have always been put-off by the "mommy uniform" that I see in the 'burbs around me, and determined that I shall not be that way when I have kiddos. I think I would shrivel up and die if I couldn't express myself through my clothes. ;) You're a real inspiration to me that motherhood and self-expression can mix! Keep adding brightness and color to your world--even halfway across the globe, it's appreciated! :)

Hammie said...

Thankyou Super K!
Because how you look on the outside is often how you feel on the inside! That is what this means to me> As a "special Mum" keeping the black dog at bay is even more important. When I look in the mirror I don't want to see dark circles, bed head hair and bummed out tracksuit pants. And neither do my kids and husband. So I think of you each morning when I am straightening my hair, and putting an extra dollop of eyeliner on; sure I even started wearing base again after your tutorial! And then I slip into my chunky gold wedges and .........
drive the kids to special school.
We might sometimes get back handed compliments (the irish are good at that) but I don't care because I feel good. And I know I am not alone because I know that Skylark wears extra kohl pencil, and you always do your hair, and all the other fetching Mamas support me.
I don't do Victim Chic, and while many may judge me for that (I don't look "worthy" enough)
I say FECK EM!

My motto "Never leave the house in something you could comfortably sleep in" Treat the world as your bathroom and it will shit on you, dress as a Princess and they will worship you.
Please consider me a disciple of Super K.

Daffodils In March said...

A beautiful post! We all choose what we wear every day, and the clothes we chose communicate to those around us... Why not choose beautiful and interesting things? By the way, have added a link to you from my blog!

Mademoiselle Robot said...

Gosh, I really wish we lived in the same country! When I had Mila, I became extremely aware of the other mums, the ones I call the grey mums, who stopped living and looking after themselves after having a child. The worst thing is that when I go to the park with bebe, all dressed up and with make up on, they look at me like I am the enemy. Like I can't look after my kid properly because you know, I probably spend my time picking outfits and writing about them. I really wish there were more fetching mammas in this world. Actually, there probably are loads, I just don't know where to find them. Any ideas?

Skye said...

Sing it sister! I am so with you on every word of this post (and what Hammie & Mademoiselle Robot said too) Believe me the "grey mother" syndrome exists everywhere - I don't live in the burbs (I do live in a hipster/scenester beach area) and it's just as bad here too. Also my stepmother said "But it's so banal" about my blog, and I had to go on a long rant/speech about the validity of my creative expression etc. So annoying!

Helena S. said...

What a stunning blog. And you are stunning too! Look a bit like Dita Von Teese. Do you actually live like that, wear those clothes everyday?? That's fine by me, I'm just amazed that someone has the time and enthusiasm to do that. Those "time warp wives" were a bit scary though...

Nokomi said...

Beautifully put SKM! The others who have commented before me are right, you are absolutely stunning and an inspiration, but reading between the lines you are not an inspiration purely for others' sake. There are no try-hard antics in YOU, gorgeous mama! You seem to be doing what you're doing for the sheer joy and love of it, and there's no better way to live your life than live your passion (whatever that may be) and then watch s it bubbles out into the big ol' universe!

Super Kawaii Mama said...

Frou Frou: thank you! I'll bet you hair looks fantastic too. We must catch up again soon. :)

The Collector: That's the price I had to pay for my job at the time. I did sneak in a few more subversive fashion touches, but I did have to be quite subtle about it.

Liv/e in both senses: It is true that time is limited, but we still seem to make time for the things we really want to do. It just depends on what your priorities are I suppose.

Heather: Thank you. Dressing well just for yourself is its own reward. It is somehow even better when it isn't motivated by competition, jealousy or the need to keep up.

Kristen: Thank you! :)

Susie Bubble: Thank you! I learnt a long time ago that I don't have to justify my fashion choices to anyone. And I do like your flipping it comment. I must keep that in mind.

Wendy B: Your correct. And it by showing a curiosity in something that doesn't interest that we learn so much more. My friend went on to explain his passion for cars to me and I actually really understood his motivation. Quite the worthwhile exchange.

Floraposte: It wasn't so much that I felt a need to dress down as it was imperative to the job. Imagine being an Ambassador and rocking up to government dos in a corset top! (not that I was an Ambassador, but you get my drift.)

Casey: Thank you. I often see so many stylish fashion bloggers and wonder what turns their fashion life would take if they chose to have children. I would like to think that they were able to retain their passion and sense of creativity.

Hammie: I always so appreciate your comments and perspective as I know you have even more layers of family complexity to deal with than I. I know all about the backhanded compliment, "It must be so nice to have the time to do your hair in the morning." I think they are more of a veiled criticism though. And you are so right about the "not worthy" bit. Why else would we be met with such incredulation when people discover we have children? It seems to speak to an unspoken expectation of what a mother should look like, although stereotypes don't come from nowhere.

Daffodils in March: Exactly. People often forget just how much and how strongly we communicate before we ever open our mouths.

Mademoiselle Robot: Ditto. I can't tell you how many times I have experienced your park scenario. It does make me rather sad. And as for my ideas, I actually have a cracker that I'll tell you about shortly. shh.... :)

Skye: Oh that stepmother! If that was me I'd like to say I would have retorted with a " Banal is in the eye of the beholder." but chances are that I would have done exactly what you did. I am highly prone to large rants.

Helena S: Thank you so much! Yes, I do dress like this everyday. I just adjust the outfit to suit the occasion accordingly. You'll even be able to find a post of me in my gym clothes somewhere. And no, I don't head down the time warp road at all really. I just love what I love no mater what style, era or genre it is from. So long as it makes me happy - it's in!

Nokomi:Thank you. And it is really is for the joy it gives me. I wear my heart on my sleeve and it is impossible for me not to tell / show everyone the way things are in my world. A love shared is a love doubled.

miss cavendish said...

Indeed. Stereotypes--mummy style, professor style--are so limiting and, well, dull.

Pretty Pirate said...

well said, good for you for being your wonderful, stylish self in a mass of boring juicy track suits. You are fabulous and gorgeous and no one can stop you! I know when I have kids I will keep my passion for dressing up and not conform. I look forward to dressing myself up and the lil ones too. I'm excited about that!!

Anonymous said...

I sometimes get those " where are you going later" comments too...and I live in the CBD!

I think for some people its easier to conform and be miserable...to be happy they'd have to make an effort and they aren't self aware or capable enough to do that.

Hopefully, with people like you out there inspiring others, more people will catch on that it's not a crime to dress up, and in fact it's fun to boot!

I'm in awe of how stylish you are, given that you're a mum and the time constraints that presents.

Shady said...

YES!! Awesome post.
You inspire me girl <3