This Halloween I realized a bizarre style evolution, in which my choice of clothing is currently based off of a high-ranking macabre level and worn only when I’ve fully imagined the creepy character a look can recall, see: serial killing school girl, shipwrecked prostitute, turn-of-the-century ghost nurse, dead clown bride, pervy ’70s teacher- all recent looks in my stable of Instagram #ootds. Naturally, I simultaneously attribute this to a lifelong love affair with the October holiday and to the good part of my early elementary years spent living in a haunted house, but how did I come to identify such disturbing elements with my wardrobe, most particularly, my newfound obsession with bondage?
Flashback to 1999, when I was a mere ten years old and balling in Barbie town. Not only was I the landlord of several high rise apartment buildings (constructed of Dad’s recycling bin-destined file boxes) and a monochromatic pink dream house (sliced down the center for prime role-playing), but I also considered myself the proud owner of several magenta convertibles- for hot plastic on plastic make-out sessions, and, my prized possession, a mini purple popsicle, amongst other hourglass-shaped, Mattel-stamped paraphernalia. As was natural for a ’90s girl growing up in the suburbs of the Western world, Barbies were my friends, my mannequins, and my pornography (the clothes were just so easy to rip off). When my Barbie fetish graduated from miniature, disproportioned vinyl to wholesome, cloth-bodied American Girl dolls, I began to feel the true terror of blinking glass eyes and 19th century regalia- fueled by scary stories of porcelain dolls, recounted to me by fellow fifth graders, and a mysterious fifty-year-old “Indian doll” that I faced down when left home alone, because that lilac sari hid a malicious grin, and let’s be real, I wasn’t taking any chances.
My irrational fear was far from a pediophobia diagnosis, but, as the child of a hyper-religious society, I was naturally, easily terrified by most things supernatural and/or beyond the “appropriate” confines of my culture, re: ghosts, heavy metal, sex shops, and, in conjunction, fetish wear. It was all completely alien, a darkness to my supposed light, and while it held my morbid curiosity, I could not, with a pure heart, prove it any more enticing with my good intentions. Because I knew nothing about the logic for what, oh, a bondage collar could be employed, I viewed the chokers as figurative big bad wolves. [Shall we pray?]
So what’s a self-proclaimed “scaredy cat,” an anxious wimp with mild OCD to do when she’s all grown up and no longer afraid of the dark? Acknowledge those childhood fears and obsessions, pulling away that dark energy to instead twist it on its head, making it my own, and with my own spin, incorporating said elements as signatures of my facade. Case in point: above look, a conglomeration I title “Paper Doll in the Choky” (with playground-worthy knee scabs and Puritan braids, because I never did let Kirsten‘s hair out and now that my childhood helmet hair’s gone Rapunzel, I’ll just play with my own). See: my enduring love for life-size Comme des Garcons branded doll clothes and the indispensable urge to bind myself in Zana Bayne accoutrements. Note: also summarized by my other all-consuming passion, sweet versus salty. [Insert poetic waxing on the nirvana that is a salty caramel ice cream swirl.] The ultimate embrace of fears, because what’s 2013 without nostalgia for my nightmares? And further, where is Hans Bellmer, and can I get an angel/devil emoji up in here?