lipstick, strong perfume, and bonbons: an ode to femininity?

On the lovely holiday that celebrates all things green, tequila’d, and either frozen/on the rocks (dependent upon personal preference, I go for on the rocks), the unbearably elegant new Chanel No. 5 advertisement was released, starring an especially dewy, luminous looking Audrey Tautou and stunning (aren’t they always) male model Travis Davenport.

Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, who directed Tautou in (surprise) Amelie, the roughly 2 minute, 22 second clip features Tautou riding an opulent Orient Express, only to wash up in Istanbul with a Billie Holiday soundtrack, a gorgeous black jumpsuit that I wish I had the body to pull off, and the same mysterious man.

Commercials like this make me want to dive into a pool of womanly delights (and invest in some serious couture).  However, the moment I’m about to spray myself with copious amounts of flowery, musky fragrance, I find myself cringing. I put down the perfume bottle and, instead, find a way to make myself more “like the guys.” Why am I so afraid to let my inner girl show?

I’ve had problems reconciling the different aspects of my personality for years. I blame it on all the community theater I did as a child. For me, life has always been a series of playing different roles. One second I can be a classic student of English literature, in a prim button-down and modest plaid skirt and listening to a playlist consisting solely of The Kinks with a dash of Simon and Garfunkel. The next second, I could change my entire persona with a pair of skinny jeans and Converse high-tops and turn into a Ramone. Two minutes later, I was a French sophisticate in a beret with a glass of vin rouge, ready with commentary and analysis on my favorite Godard films. By the end of the evening, I would morph into one of my favorite roles, 1975 Disco Queen, in a vintage polyester minidress with dance moves stolen from Saturday Night Fever.

By the time my second year of college had rolled around, I’d settled into a pretty regular persona that was, to borrow words from a friend of mine, “lightly misogynistic.” I wore vaguely androgynous clothing from that retailer of overpriced basics, American Apparel, and I listened to music that was Pitchfork (a largely male-run Web site) approved. Though I had a large number of close female friends, I was always the most “manly” of the group: I viewed love and lust as most males do, I liked male-approved things, and, most importantly, I really genuinely enjoyed beer.

I was never particularly “girly” to begin with. Actually, the manufactured image of giggling, boy-crazy, Bebe shopping, lacy lingerie wearing girlhood that I saw in Seventeen magazine made me sick to my stomach.  But still, Girly Eleni had to disappear for this new, semi-hipster approved version to prosper.

I was also convinced that I had to choose just one “persona” to adopt constantly. Why be twenty things when you can just be one? It’s a lot easier to manage, at least mentally.

But every time I turn on a Sofia Coppola film or spend a little bit too long in the dressing room at Topshop, I remind myself that it’s OK to indulge in the girly side of myself every now and then. It won’t diminish my adopted “masculinity.” And, more importantly, it’s okay to a bunch of different things all at once.

So bring on the cupcakes, and the frilly blouses, and the champagne, and the high heels. Hell, throw in some red lipstick. It’s time to be a lady.

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5 responses to “lipstick, strong perfume, and bonbons: an ode to femininity?

  1. Hey Eleni! I’ve found your new blog. Mwahahaha! (except that you posted it in your old blog so the “I found” is more “you showed me”)

    I know what you mean. That ad is a terrific fantasy, even for me. At the same time, though, I think a lot of the swag associated with haute couture lifestyle would be lost on me (perfume, expensive clothes, etc.)—I don’t have a sense of smell, I don’t know how to do make up (and suspect that starts a vicious cycle when it comes to me and zits), my hair is the equivalent of having a petulant toddler living on my head, and I hate clothes shopping—I can’t look at clothes for more than about an hour or else I get bored to tears. Also, I’m too cheap to spend money on that stuff.

  2. Orient Express!

    Istanbul!

    AHH!

  3. That video fucking gave me chills! No joke! (Side note: I just love that apparently she sleeps naked.) And I think this is one of my favourite of your blog posts ever. I think I should settle down into one look, too, but I can’t! I have my colorful girly dresses from Marimekko with a collection of heels, but then I have my black leather and cut off T-shirts, and my … I don’t even know. I can’t have one style. It’s too hard for me.

    My favourite part: “One second I can be a classic student of English literature, in a prim button-down and modest plaid skirt and listening to a playlist consisting solely of The Kinks with a dash of Simon and Garfunkel. The next second, I could change my entire persona with a pair of skinny jeans and Converse high-tops and turn into a Ramone. Two minutes later, I was a French sophisticate in a beret with a glass of vin rouge, ready with commentary and analysis on my favorite Godard films. By the end of the evening, I would morph into one of my favorite roles, 1975 Disco Queen, in a vintage polyester minidress with dance moves stolen from Saturday Night Fever.”

    You still totally do that, peanut. Don’t lie.

    P.S. WHY CAN’T THAT COMMERCIAL HAPPEN IN REAL LIFE????????

  4. P.P.S. hahaha lightly misogynistic. weee!!!

  5. Eleni, this is a wonderfully written post and really insightful. I think it’s wonderful that you’re such a “shapeshifter”– it makes everything more exciting so consider it an asset!

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