Wednesday 25 May 2016
When red carpet season comes around, there are critics around the world who are glued to their TV screens, or set up on the very same red carpet ready to pounce, and criticise, and belittle, or compliment those lucky few who have the opportunity to make that potentially daunting walk. In my experience of inhaling awards shows, one of the most common questions asked, particularly of women, is ‘who are you wearing?’. Because apparently, all anyone in the audience of an awards show wants to really know is which designer dressed the celebrity. I mean, that’s the point of awards season, right? To promote fashion designers rather than award those who have excelled in their chosen field? But that’s a whole other blog post, and I digress . . .
Most of us will never have the opportunity to stride along the red carpet, nor will we have to face the critique of fashion bloggers or critics. Aside from the odd friendly compliment, that means that most of us will never be asked who we are wearing. Not that that should make any of you feel bad . . . unless you are a celebrity, and nobody’s asking who you wear, and you’re desperate for attention. 😉
So I started thinking in a rather flippant way about the phrase ‘who are you wearing?’, and as usual, all manner of things began floating through my mind until, finally, one concept settled nicely into my thoughts. Who are you wearing? Who is influencing your life, or who has influenced your life up to this point? And how much of them still sits in your consciousness or psyche? How much of them is integrated into every fibre of your being? Complex, huh? Slightly philosophical, yeah. And all from a throw away comment frequently heard in the awards season.
After all, we are made up of everyone who has ever influenced us, aren’t we? On a conscious level, don’t we take the bits of others that we like, and include them into our own make up? We allow ourselves to be influenced by others – friends, family, celebrities – and we try to emulate them, to become better people. We’re nurtured by these people, and so it seems obvious to me that we’d take on what we considered to be their positives. On the flip side, and particularly with family, we might also consciously decide not to emulate family because they show us a side that’s far from anything we might remotely want to be. Still, we’re made up of them, I think, in the fact that we try not to be like them. Then there’s the fact that people will tell you that you look like a particular member of your family, or you sound like another, or you have someone else’s eyes. It goes on.
But wait, there’s more . . .
Who are you wearing? As your mask. Who do you show to your friends? Who do you show to your colleagues? Who does your significant other know you to be? Who are you wearing for your kids? Who do your parents see? Who do you think you are? Again, deep, I know.
It’s a relatively common theory that I’m sure most people would have heard about: that we all wear masks, and those masks depend upon who we are with at the time. At work, you might wear the mask of controlled organised, or the one who solves the problems. At home, you might be the one who wears the mask of the caregiver, or the mask of someone who always placates.
But what would happen if we no longer chose to wear those masks, or wear the parts of others that we saw as influential? Who would we be then? Would it be the ‘real’ versions of ourselves? The authentic us that Oprah so loves to spruik about? Or would we simply be an empty vessel waiting to be dressed in the habits, behaviours, attitudes, and nature of others? Would we be faceless, and desperately waiting to find a new mask to put over our own features? I don’t know the answer to those questions. I don’t know that anybody would know the answers because we continue to wear those masks. And who’s to say that we’re not still wearing masks even when we tell others and ourselves that we’ve taken them off, and that what you’re seeing is really, honestly us?
More to the point: do we really want anyone else to see us when we’re honestly wearing our own designs?
So tell me, who are you wearing?