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Thursday 11 July 2013

I'm feeling blue - really, REALLY blue

Too matchy matchy? 

Question: What makes blue lips all right for a fashion magazine or Halloween but usually questionable for, say, the office, church or shopping? How do cultures define the prevailing boundaries of style decorum and why are people who don't conform often shunned or ridiculed? What causes the anxiety created by difference? Are slips of conformity in aesthetics evidence of dangerous slips of conformity in thought? And why would that be bad, especially when humankind's greatest inventions and works of art usually result from non-conformist thought?

In this shoot, I simply wanted to wear blues in places you don't often see them, in non-conformist ways, on my eyebrows and lips (MAC blue cake makeup and blue pencil) and on my head. I exaggerated the blue cosmetics with drawn-on white eyelashes and white lipliner (Sephora pure white eye pencil) around blue lips drawn double their real size. I was curious to see how the blues changed how I felt about myself and how that change would be reflected in my photos. The silver sequins around my neck are a man's tie clamped at the back with a metal clothespin, and I'm wearing a thrifted blue slip.

In the first photo above, clearly, that's not me. I get a Deborah Harry or Jean Harlow vibe from that one. This photo was not edited; yes, those are blue blues. I like how my eyes grey-down.

The next photo has been edited, obviously. I was just having fun.

This next shot reminds me of an anime space traveller, a doll-like creature that does not compute.

And there I am without the wig at the end of the shoot. Yay! I was getting hot.

And then one final photo below in black and white. My hair has never been shinier - too bad it's because I'm wearing a petroleum-based product on my head. I am reminded of a Sophia Loren-type movie, a tempestuous woman with a penchant for flowers.

And I wrote the following to go with the mood I felt in this photo.
"Pah!" she sneered. She savagely pulled a green onion from the flower box. "This, THIS is what I think of you!" Giuseppe, her paramour and a top vegetarian chef, watched in horror from the bar as she savagely bit off the bulbous hairy root. He could hear the soil grinding between her magnificent white molars. The chewing was interminable, like fingernails on a blackboard.
"Bwa-ha-ha," she laughed after an audible gulp. She flung the remaining stalk onto the floor with vehemence and ground it under her shocking stilettos, careful not to skewer the stalk as she did so; everyone knows kebab heels are only good for walking across hot coals. "If THIS is what I can do as a vegetarian, just imagine my wrath as an omnivore, you virus-sucking worm." Saliva dripping down her chin, she grinned a horrible movie-star grin that revealed tiny furrows of black dirt between her teeth. "I shall never come here no more. Farewell, venal brute. We are FINISHED!" 
This shoot was fun but it made me question even more why certain ways of personal presentation are acceptable only on defined occasions and in art, but not for every day. Imagine if Picasso couldn't paint women in blue. Now I want to wear this look out shopping and I hope it's only a matter of time until we see blue lips everywhere, remembering when black or blue nail polish was shocking and when dying your hair was only for "bad" women. Heh, heh.

Of course some of the bloggers I admire have no qualms about dressing in and making themselves up in what they want exactly when they want. I cheer!!! I am trying to do the same but sometimes I still feel constrained. Even today it's frightening how often ridicule can stem from as little as wearing a dress too short or cutting one's hair, or, as we learnt recently from a post by fabulous Desiree of Pull Your Socks Up, from wanting to wear a vintage dress for graduation. I'm wondering if we've all felt like outsiders at one time or another because of our styling.


Shoe Shine
Finally, these are my shoes for Bella's Shoe Shine. Camouflage legs. I wore that maxi dress (backdrop) and those socks today with shoes almost identical to these ones, but these are the shoes I wanted to show you for Shoe Shine. They're not red but there is red in what I wore with them. Does that count?


Maybe tomorrow I'll go shopping for a pink wig. That blue baby only cost $8. 
I hope you all have a happy weekend. Signing off. See you at Patti's later. This weekend I'll be catching up on my commenting. You're all schtars!!


  1. I have no words, dear Melanie, ahhhhhhhhhhh
    Just Wowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.
    Love and art.

  2. I love how your art is integrated into your personal image.

  3. Goodness Gracious I love you...never met you/may never meet you, but you are really rather fabulous and unique and I've never seen blue worn better. Thoughts...well I think we all feel constrained in one way or another - it's breaking through that makes us courageous and alive. Hugs and kisses to you Mel the fabulous!!

  4. Maybe the blue's contagious, starts with the eyebrows...where will it end....

  5. love your really blue make up and matching hair, you look like a siren from a 30's expressionist film, wonderful!,
    And I've never understand why nails or lips are usually made up in red, that's so unnatural like green or blue!, it's just another fashion rule that can be broken!
    besos & colores

  6. I always will love your blog - the blue is magnificent and I admire Desiree so much (and you) I understand what you say about personal style and constraints, although I am not particularly flamboyant, I dress in a 50's way, which on the school run creates smiles and fun from the little ones (they seem to like the colours) but some grown ups can be a little sneery and sometimes rude x I get a little courage from you all x

  7. Fabulous images (and accompanying prose). I contemplate a lot about "difference", as a psychotherapist. I believe some of our desire to conform is so hard-wired into us because as primitive creatures, to deviate was life-threatening. Now it just means ridicule, but ridicule is scary too, because then we might be alone. Deep thoughts, I know! But I do adore those like you with the courage to color outside the lines. xoxoxo

  8. So gorgeous...and I love the little frisson of discomfort I feel!
    I admire your determination to step further "out of the box" than most of us manage. Great post AND pictures!

  9. To my eye, with out the wig you look odd. With the wig it all goes together.

  10. You gorgeous blue creature! This is a wild card and I love it! I think that no matter what you wear or how you wear it at some point someone will make fun of you and it really is up to you to either shudder or revolt even more. I think as kids that rebellious nature comes and it goes and I am so happy mine seemed to have never left.

    My 14 year old niece will be up form CA next weekend. I am excited and a bit scared to see and hear what it is like to be her right now. They have it worse because they are growing up in social media, it's all about how many likes can you get on facebook. It sickens me!

    Revolt, rebel and give em' hell!

  11. First of all, I love those shoes - the way the side panels take a little zig (or is it a zag?).

    Those pictures are so compelling, but I wondered if it was the make-up generally or just the color. Then you did the black&white photo, which is just what I was hoping for. It would be good to see the colors without enhancing your lips and eyes to make them bigger - just add color to the normal shape, because I think it's the whole beauty queen face that makes this so riveting. That's all a bit rambly.

    It is funny that we now accept all colors of nail polish and hair dye, but we still don't see odd colored lips and eyebrows. Maybe that will come as some new style. It's obvious, though, that people like to conform and expect everyone else to do it. All the young women will be dressed in similar clothes and silhouettes, with their similar hairstyles and handbags. And their mothers will have their own uniform. I think some people assume you're self-centered if you try to look too different. Does that make sense?

    By the way, I see a completely different story in the B&W photo. I see her picking up a note left on the bed, reading it and thinking, But what did I do wrong? Please don't leave me. Is it my onion breath? I can change!!!

  12. OH EM GEEE!!!!!!!!!! CRACK UP! The story I mean. The rest seems totally normal, I barely noticed the blue at all! "He could hear the soil grinding between her magnificent white molars." My question is, how did he know they were magnificent? Could he see them when she smiled? :-D!!!
    P.S. Yes to blue eyebrows and lips. It works with your skin tone and your gorgeous baby blue eyes. xo

  13. I actually love the look without the wig - I think you should wear that out, for sure. I myself am too chicken to go that "out there." Thank you for paving the way, O Goddess!

  14. "Are slips of conformity in aesthetics evidence of dangerous slips of conformity in thought?" This. I think this is what most people think and add that to other things like people are afraid of things that are different or that they don't understand and they are also afraid of change.
    You are already different from the norm as an artists. Artists are always considered to be outside the normal social structures and are given more leeway. Plus, you come across as intelligent. Seems like the brighter a person is they have a mind that craves stimulation, new things to think about, new ideas... De facto boundary pusher.
    I'd been considered a freak since high school so I'd gotten used to it. I will say I've had some issues pop up again after becoming a mom. Man, society really boxes moms in... I've had some qualms over my outward appearance because it's one thing for me to take some awkward stares (I can handle it!), but it's another thing for my kids to have any heat because of my aesthetic choices.
    I love the look with the blue make-up and your normal hair.

  15. Hi Melanie, You never stop surprising me :) Girlfriend you need a spreadsheet for all of your clothes. I imagine that you make a lot of people smile and feel light-hearted when they see you walking down the street. Especially those that want to spread their wings and live your creative life, but are bound my traditional hang-ups. Some traditions are good and others can become chains and shackles.
    Thanks for the visit, and Good Luck on the Give-A-Way.
    Your blogging sister, Connie :)

  16. The blue pictures are beautiful! You look like art and animation and fantasy all at once. It reminds me a little bit of a green makeup ad from Biba in the 70s.
    I would love to see more color in the world - all of the black on black with french manicures numbs the brain.
    Will you be doing a pink session if you get the pink wig?

  17. The blue really made your eyes shine when you took off the wig! Great experiment xoxo

  18. First off - LOve, Love, Love the edited second photo - you are Blue-tiful!! The blue really works with your colouring and I'd like to see you on the street in the blue brows, eyeshadow and lipstick, but without the white lines - I think you would look stunning (not that you don't always, but this would be in an other-worldly kind of way).

    I admire and envy the way you experiment with your looks. You are utterly fearless when it comes to use of colour and proportion - you and Desiree are my style heroines!

  19. Ok, you actually look beautiful in blue lipstick and hair. WOW! Great pics.

  20. Amor,
    I love the way your eyes stand out even more with blue make up. I personally love blue eye shadow with red lipstick. the more color the merrier.


  21. Please keep doing what you're doing. You remind me of he need and give me the strength to be me, and to stop conforming because its easier.

  22. I love love love blue lips. I love to do it in photos I'm taking for my blog but I'll quickly wipe it off and slick on some normal aceptable red before going out. I don't know why I'm so scared. I used to wear blue lipstick in Jr High and didn't know it wasn't "ok". But then the harsh reality that people don't appreciate you as much when you have blue lips started to sink and and I quit doing it. I went through a looooong phase of worrying about what other people thought of me and I'm just now starting to break away from it. By the way, your blue eyes are sooooo lovely.

  23. You are a vision in blue - like an angel. I am seriously thinking of getting one myself.

  24. You are magnificence incarnate. Love the second filtered photo - it is so haute couture. It just takes one brave woman to walk the streets in blue to start to swing the pendulum in that direction - even if the pendulum is a long time off making that swing. The only thing is that if it were socially acceptable then you wouldn't be such a style icon for wearing it. I think keep it to your edgy self (and just show us of course!)

  25. Wowee what blue brilliance! Just the right amount of matchy matchy mermaid style!

  26. You look completely different with long hair and a fringe. (The fact they are blue is beside my point.)
    Can I give you my opinion with regard to your question?
    "I think our survival system has tought us to recognize certain images and label them. Anything different, especially totally different than the images we have already labeled, must be regarded as suspicious. We have to see and try that carefully.... it might be dangerous. We don't know, we have never seen it before."
    Could that be the reason why most people react in an unfriendly way? Just fear?

  27. Ah yes the mesh and weave of art and life. I feel the art world has some of the same constraints as does the world of fashion, but in the opposite extreme. There is just too many rules. I wish people could accept live, art and fashion for what is and not judge and compare.

    Well that said, the blue is compelling especially with your short hair. Saw the Cindy Sherman retrospective last year and these photos bring up a similar vibe. I say why not experiment if you find inspiration in the search? Interesting investigation you are making.

    When I was in my 20's I made handmade coats covered with animal motifs and sequins. I remember wearing them to the grocery store and a child stopped crying after looking at my eye catching outfit! How one looks has power to change others.

    blue hue wonderland

  28. I have been back several times to gaze at these photos, Melanie, and to think about the questions you pose, and consider what to write in response. The truth is, I could bang on for FAR too long, so I will keep it concise, for a change.
    You look stunning. Especially photo number 2, but in all of them really. You but not you. A cosmic mermaid, an alien siren. The white "eyelashes" add a 1960s dolly bird vibe into the mix, which I also love.
    Sure, we have conventions about how women look, and that includes what colours we put where, and how we wear our hair and make up as much as our clothes. One only has to recall the shock and outrage of punk to see how visceral the negativity can be to anyone (particularly women) subverting the norm. But that's never been a reason not to do so, has it?
    Keep testing and experimenting, Mel - it's one of the many reasons I love you! xxxx

  29. I like your creativity, its a breath of fresh air!

  30. I applaud you for taking chances and being different! You wear the blue so well...most of us, on the other hand, might not be able to carry it off. You continue to inspire me!!!

  31. I got your pink one ;)
    Great images/message- it is so freaking awesome to see so much talent in our circle of such wise, empowering beauty. I feel so proud to be a small part of this world right now!

  32. well I can speak on that matter, I missed that post btw! I don't care really, I do pretty well what I want and you know that! and lucky that I can get away with it..wait till I don't have to work for a living, I will go completely insane!



  33. Your experimental nature and thoughtful posts are loved deeply. I love the blue and with your leadership, the world may be in blue lipstick by 2014.

    Until I found this blogging community, at times I felt 'different,' but continued to wear what I wanted in most situations. Blogging has helped me to accept myself, as I have you and many others who dance to their own music. I feel the support to be more creative and more of who I am.

  34. LOVE it!! I love everything about this photo shoot!!
    I admire and am awed by how you push the boundaries and make me think. you are truly a treasure!

  35. Brilliant post. I respect your exploration of this vital subject. "Presentation" means a lot to me because I cross the gender-line when I present myself and few things are more transgressive (and, in many people's opinions, wrong) than that. We all need to question our obedience to social pressure for conformity.

  36. I could Tumblr you. You look iconic in all images- funny about that blue- always makes a human look "other." Thank you for shining for Shoe Shine!

  37. I love this. You have reminded me of a night I went out with some uni friends (about 12 yrs ago) and wore a blue wig and lots of stage makeup with the outfit. No one ever recognised me in the pictures! Hee hee.

    I love the incognito element - although you do look like you. And bloody fabulous, can I just say xx

  38. I want to go a lecture series of yours on contempory fashion and anrachy. or something like that. I love the blue on you. Your eyes are a fascinating colour. It's a shame that colours provoke such derision from many people. People seem almost afraid of it. That said, I did get an outwardly good response to my blue hair - maybe you should buy some dyes and have a go?
    Please cover songs in this style...

  39. I keep going back and back and back and essentially meditating on your tremendous posts. Your inquiries are outstandingly incisive - Melanie, thank you for your brilliant blue self!!!!!!!!!!!

    I wonder too why we are supposed to want super-long eyelashes, but not extravagant brows, when the little areas of hair are so near each other.

  40. I don't know! I don't know why lips are considered weird. I don't know why black nail polish is considered goth. I don't know why when I wear black and white stripes I am called Beetlejuice a million times a day. I don't understand the world. Some days I am so bewildered by the world's lipstick limitations that I can barely drag myself from bed.

    Here's what I DO now: You are fucking fabulous. I want to wear a blue wig and blue everything and be smart and creative and whimsical and curious and delightful and beautiful and change my name to Melanie. Single Blue Female.

    Not creepy enough. Beetlejuice. xxx


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