Thursday, October 18

If the Stiletto Fits

Much of Mal Adjusted has so far focused on stepping off the beaten path and into the shoes of the fully realized, truest version of you.

When it comes to the style of those shoes, though, other people in your same neck of the woods might have a difference of opinion as to what's fitting.

I, for example, am a stiletto girl – the higher the better!

And I don’t hobble, thank you very much. 

I strut.

(In my dreams, I can fight in them, too. Like Catwoman.)

My mother gave me some serious stems, along with the rest of my looks, and I never felt the need to apologize them.

That is, until I became a writer . . .

While I’m sure most women have at one time or another felt pressured to dumb themselves down, it never once occurred to me that the rest of the “package” would be the biggest thing standing between me and the respect of my peers, writers and non-writers alike.   

I mean, I really was a good writer – a damn good writer for a recently converted art major – and that was all that mattered, right . . . ?

Yeah, right.

In the beginning, it was much more about working around peoples' assumptions of me than it was my work. If I gave a note in workshop (even a constructively critical one) I was being the mean girl. If I received a note and that note was positive, there was eye rolling . . .

This one girl, a bigger girl who only wore death metal concert tees and only wrote heavy-handed erotic fantasies, took particular glee in nitpicking my drafts to death with a red Sharpie.

She would always hand them back to me looking like a crime scene, and I would leave class wondering what I had ever done to her and what ground she thought she and all her horny heroines, their bosoms “overflowing” from their corsets, had to stand on . . .

I can only speculate as to her reasons – though I think I have a pretty good idea – but it wasn’t just my “packaging” that was getting me into trouble.

Once, I burst into tears because a poem that meant a lot to me, a poem I had worked harder on than any other poem that semester missed the mark in workshop. It was good, everyone said, better than good, but they hadn’t taken away from it what I had meant them to, and I was so frustrated.

My reaction was treated as a serious no-no, though. 

“Professional writers,” I was told, ought to be more detached from their work – 100% objective.

Well, objective I am not. Not when it comes to writing, nor have I ever been accused of being professional. Alas, in Writer World, where my writing was holding its own, I still didn't quite fit in.

For a while, I simmered in self-doubt.

Then, slowly, I boiled over with indignation. After that I just felt silly. Who I was as a person was not and never had been up for editing, least of all by other students – students! What did they know . . . ?

So what if I wasn't the consummate professional.

So what if I connected my thoughts with "like" a little too much.

So what if I liked to look cute, not like a librarian. If I want to wear stilettos so high the altitude would make Gisele herself feel faint everyday for the rest of my life, I'm allowed to because:

1) It's America.

2) It has nothing to do with my writing!

Just because a certain type of person tends to excel at a certain something doesn’t mean other types of people can’t also excel at it.

It also doesn’t mean that annoying constructs, like peoples’ reliance on social stereotypes, don’t still apply on some level.

It's not going to stop people (even the ones who are supposed to be on your side) from judging you, because they don’t like you, because they’re intimidated by you, because they don’t “get you,” or just because.

Blogging in stilettos, because I can.
Whether you’re an artist or a dancer, an entrepreneur or a rock climber, sooner or later there will come a time when, in a way you least expected, it feels like there’s even less wiggle room for individualism within your niche off the beaten path than there was on it.

When that happens, stick to your guns (or stilettos) and toss out the old saying; a duck doesn’t always walk like a duck . . .

Sometimes they strut ;)

XO, Mal


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