I am a woman obsessed.
It began a little over a month ago as I began planning how to write an ethnography on the concept of beauty here on Clove Island. More specifically, I was planning to write about the fashions. Clove Island female fashion is fascinating. Uncomfortable, but fascinating. Not aesthetically pleasing to the eye (by which I mean my eye), but fascinating. It’s unlike any other place in the world. I opened an Instagram account to share with the world the amazing-ness that is island fashion. Follow me to see a new great fashion example everyday.
One day soon I will write another post describing island fashion as I see it. But for now I’d like to explain my obsession with a trip down memory lane. I LOVE to dress up. Anyone who knows me well, knows this. I wish I had access to the photos of me dressed up as a small black cat “trick or treating” with my dad in his giant mouse costume. Or the photo of me dressed as a pig as part of Noah’s Ark when I was 10. I don’t know the psychological why behind it, but for me there’s not much better than dressing up.
Exhibit A: This is the farthest back I could find, circa 2006. For Halloween I was dressed as Kevin Federline who was dating Brittney Spears at the time.
In Peace Corps (2007-2009) we dressed up a lot. Practically every time we gathered as a group we had some themed costume party. Oh, the joy.
Following Peace Corps, I moved to Atlanta and found more people who loved to dress up! It was fabulous. In fact, I made my first real friends while getting to dress up in the Atlanta Passion Play.
Through church and work, I quickly built up a network of costume-crazed friendships. (Just kidding- mostly my friends just humor me, except for the girl on the left who may love to dress up more than me- debatable but a definite possibility).
It was in Atlanta that I learned to love running in races. Don’t get me wrong. I hate running. But to run a race in a costume, well, that makes it all worth it.
And sometimes a friend and I would just dress up for no reason, like the scavenger hunt below. We thought it was a costumed hunt. Turns out, it wasn’t.
Why did I share all of this? I do like to reminisce about these times and congratulate myself on a costume well-done. Beyond that though, I think it helps explain, a little, why I love the fashion here so much. It is uncomfortable. It is hot. It is painfully modest (painful because of the heat) and often the colors and patterns clash so loudly it hurts my eyes. But it’s like dress-up everyday!!!
I wore the above outfit to a wedding. Isn’t it amazing? And I wasn’t the only one wearing it. There were about 40 of us with the same exact thing on.
Look closely and you will see some goopy stuff on my face. Island women wear this sandalwood mixture as make-up. It softens and protects the skin. It’s a tan to yellowish color contrasting well on black skin. I just look jaundiced with a little leprosy mixed in.For any event I get to wear lots of make-up. I don’t just get to. I have to. If I don’t, it’s noted and I never hear the end of it. Big gaudy earrings are very vogue. And don’t let any hair fly away. Ideally it should be covered but if not, slicked back is the best style. The beautiful curly tendrils framing my face are NOT appreciated.
And for every day apparel, what could be better than throwing a toga over your clothes before walking out the door? Welcome to Clove Island.