Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Being the best pinup you ~ Thoughts on the pinup scene and being true to you

I’ve been brewing on this post for a while, especially after talking to Laila Shalimar after she released her article in the last Adore Pinup Magazine, discussing the impacts on body image from pinup online social media. I guess, I just wanted to share my own thoughts and insights into this, as well as a bit of my own journey because one thing that is important to me is keeping it real.

I’ve noticed a lot of the comments I get now are from ladies online, especially those new to the scene imply perfection….something I very much am not and something that makes me a little squeamish to receive.

Pre-Pinup Me
Believe it or not, I wasn’t always a pinup. I actually started my online journey as a weight loss blog! Despite liking the style since my mid teens I didn’t really work up the courage to actually try it until I was in my early 20s, when I bought a second hand hell bunny dress off ebay at 21. I used to be a bit of a fashion victim (I really have no head for mainstream fashion) and after experimenting for 12 months with pinup on weekends, I finally took the plunge and went my dream hair colour of red and worked on becoming a scarlet haired pinup. Now, it took a lot longer and was filled with a lot more struggle than I anticipated.
My early years were filled with a lot of cringe worthy moments. My first wetset came out like an afro that as so knotted I had to soak it in the bath before I could wash it. My eyeliner took 3 years to get to something relativity ‘on fleck’ and to not resemble a single curved texta line up the side of my eye. I didn’t even know what eyeshadow was til year 3 of dressing retro (its actually something I’m STILL learning now!). Some of my outfits also were a major miss and I look back and have to laugh. As a beginner I had no idea about the varying types of stockings and thought shapewear was a torture device (how times have changed there!).  Why so many bungles? Simple, because I was a beginner. I think this is something a lot of ladies that come to the “pinup scene”, whether online or real world overlook. A lot of retro girls have been doing the style for a number of years and they have it down to an art. One of my favourite quotes is to not compare your start to someone else’s middle. Remember literally everyone starts as a beginner. Everyone.

One of my first pinup looks
Pinup year 1

Pinup year 3

First wetset

Casual day year 2
Now at 26, I am I guess what I’d call a more ‘seasoned’ pinup. I’m fortunate enough to work in a job that affords me the ability to dress how I want (within reason, there are certain things I can’t wear to work for obvious ‘not being work appropriate’ reasons) and that allows me to continue my freedom of expression via clothing, I also know this is a luxury not every woman who likes the style is afforded. Years of working out what works best for my hair means I have mostly good hair days and I wear retro makeup daily. I started a blog based around sharing my knowledge of pinup at the start of last year and it’s taken off more than I ever expected. I do a fair amount of photo shooting, blogging and collaborating which means my Instagram is generally  full of pretty ootd photos, mostly good hair days and exciting mail deliveries. Comments from many women imply they feel I’m living the dream ‘instagram pinup’ life. I have a growing following, I get to wear great outfits and I do photoshoots.

I do however try and keep it real online. My life is far from “perfect”.  I do live in a nice apartment with my partner with our small amount of second hand furniture:  we began rebuilding our own lives as solo livers mid this year so we don’t have a lot. Being 26 and living as an adult means I have to plan and budget my purchases, I can’t just splurge because I want to. I work my full time job in administration Monday-Friday which involves an hour a day train commute as well as a half hour round trip walk to and from the station. I’m very grateful to have my job but it does take up a fair chunk of my time and as a creative mind I can find it a bit brain numbing at times. Ontop of this I also have my own small business, Daisy Jean. Small businesses are a lot of work, more than I think people online really understand. While I dress pretty during the day for my job, it generally comes off the moment I walk in the door at home (I don’t want to get craft supplies on my nice things) and my evenings are mostly spent huddled over my work desk creating new store stock, filling/prepping orders and working on balancing the websites. With my blogging also being busier than ever it means nights allocated to creating content (I’m working on some AWESOME stuff right now!), building my new platform for a change in the new year and a lot of emails and coordination. My weekends are normally crammed with not just fitting in photo shoots, stock making, stock runs, spending time with my man, general domestic duties I didn’t fit during the week and the never ending list of Adhoc that is the forgotten tasks of my busy life. I often joke I need a day between Saturday and Sunday just to get everything done!

As those who follow my Instagram know, I talk quite openly about my anxiety. I developed social anxiety while I was with my ex and it’s something I still something I battle with. As a result I don’t have much to do with my local “pinup” scene. I saw its dark underbelly earlier this year when I became the target of bullying from other small business owners and basically withdrew. I don’t really have much available time to deal with that sort of behaviour or tolerance for such childish antics. So I just keep it a bit distant now days and I’m more selective of the events I attend. In regards to the online pinup scene, having been in it for quite a while I’ve found a number of amazing women that I love following. But I know in my own experience I can often feel left out/not good enough/etc. While ‘pinup’ is viewed as an amazing body positive movement, it’s not always all body inclusive and as a girl with a pear shaped figure I often feel I don’t ‘fit’ the image that the scene idolises. I do work really hard to not let these negative voices get to me, as I know it’s all crap (my body is fab, weight regardless) but I wanted ladies to know that even I don’t feel ‘enough’ in pinup at times. That is something I think all women go through to some degree and that it’s not something you experience alone. I’ve also found as my ‘popularity’ has increased online as has the negativity I receive. I don’t post about it but the more visible you are online, the more of a target you become for people. I’ve seen some pretty mean stuff happen to women in the scene (both online and local) as well as been on the receiving end of some myself, some so nit picky I literally couldn’t believe it. Tall poppy syndrome is very much a thing in the retro scene and this is something I find really disheartening. I also find it a bit bizarre to be referred to as perfect. For the most part I feel like a pretty regular girl, just like everyone else. 

I wanted to wrap up this post with some advice I have for ladies about pinup. Whether they are in it, new to it, thinking about it or on their way out of it: just do you! I use this mantra a lot and I apply it to pinup in my own life. Pinup really is a way of dressing, with a lifestyle attached that is not necessarily a requirement. All our lives are different, so make it work for you. If you only do it occasionally, it doesn’t make you any less of a retro girl. If you dress it all the time it doesn’t make you superior to anyone else. If you don’t want to do it anymore as it doesn’t fit, that’s not an issue either. Your goal should always be about working on your own happiness and your own life rhythm, something unique to you.

Pinup doesn’t fix body image either, which is a notion I’m seeing in increasing amounts which worries me. It’s not a magic wand waving transformation that cures all your body woes. But it is what you make it and it can be a great tool for helping you learn to embrace your body. You are ‘good enough’ from the start because pinup is all part of the journey. It’s one reason I love it so much, it’s not stagnant. My style evolves and grows with new things. We all keep learning new things and that’s one reason it’s so awesome. Please try and focus on the things you achieve (nailing that eyeliner, getting through a day without your stockings unclipping, a great wetset, an awesome etsy find) and not the comparisons that will steal your glory. Remember, another woman’s beauty doesn’t make you ugly by default. Rejoice in your own unique you.

Sadly, like all ‘scenes’ pinup can be clicky. It’s just a fact. But you don’t have to be part of a scene just because you dress pinup. I only had ‘online’ pinup friends for ages before I developed real life ones. Again, there are no set rules or guidelines for how to pinup socially. Socialise with who makes you feel good, embrace what works for you and just keep rocking it. In regards to Tall poppy syndrome change starts with you, so try and lift others up and in turn you will be lifted. That’s my motto in life anyway.

I hope you’ve all enjoyed this post and as always I am more than happy to answer any comments or questions in the comments.

Please ladies know you aren’t alone in this. But also know you aren’t inferior either. You are all such amazing women, no matter how you dress or how you look.