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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Introducing Viola Sharp.

So long abouts a year ago, I took a Burlesque class at the fitness/dance studio that I do all sorts of design for. As a part of that class, we were asked to create an alter ego -- our Burly stage presence -- and since I get hung up on names anyway, finding something to call myself other than my actual name was really hard.

I didn't end up getting to finish the class because I twisted my ankle (shocker there) but I had found what felt like the perfect name for the character I imagined I'd be on stage -- Viola Sharp.

If you do your research, you'll find it's a slight deviation from the name of the nanny for the Lindbergh baby when he was kidnapped, and who was, for a while, the main suspect in the baby's disappearance and eventual death. The stress and shame of the situation broke her and she took her own life rather than face the public scrutiny and hatred.

Heh. I kind of just liked the way it sounded, how it incorporated purple, but back stories are fun sometimes?


Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago, when the same studio was putting on a small pin-up contest at a car show. In a moment of irregular brazen confidence, I registered in the competition, mostly because my bathing suit this year was perfect and I'd already gotten incredible positive feedback from the one time I wore it to the pool:
Introducing Viola Sharp. via
And then I promptly spent the two weeks in between freaking out about being able to actually do the contest, mostly about pulling a retro pin-up look off with minimal resources and minimal hair.

It was mostly about the hair.

After approximately 3874923878329738 hours of Googling/YouTubing/Pinteresting variations of tutorials for pin-up hair for pixie cuts and finding practically nada and staying up entirely too late one night, I managed to beat my poor pixie cut into the tiniest of little victory rolls:
Introducing Viola Sharp. via
And then prayed that a new dye job wouldn't fry it beyond workability, because that pastel-faded thing I was trying to work out of fairly much sheer laziness wasn't going to cut it for my self-confidence in a pin-up competition, nope.

The morning of it took me, no joke, two hours to plaster all of my little split ends and fresh, still bleeding color into a smooth and purposeful style:
Introducing Viola Sharp. via
And I was SUPER NERVOUS about it staying in place and lasting through the heat and the wind and the sun and this contest.

Spoiler: it was fine. So fine that it stayed put after I took the pins out that night and was still pretty much in tact when I woke up the next morning. So, now I know.

There ended up being a miscommunication about when and how and where I was supposed to be and at what level of ready I should have been that resulted in me doing my make-up at the event while the workshop was being taught but I was prepared for chaos, so I ended up looking decent, I think:
Introducing Viola Sharp. via
Especially considering that I took this photo after the competition, back at home. I love products that last.

Back at the car show, my nerves flip-flopped between totally cool stage-trained actress to OMFG WHAT THE WHAT AM I DOING HERE (compounded slightly by Kyle informing me at the show that one of his students was in attendance, which, GREAT. AWESOME. SOMEONE STAB ME.) but that is what oversized sunglasses are for -- masking the crazed panicked look on your face without squishing your fake eyelashes.
Introducing Viola Sharp. via

And, thanks to a friend there, I have a full-length shot of me in all my pasty pale whiteness:
Introducing Viola Sharp. via

Part of the contest was being able to take photos with some of the old vintage cars at the show, and I should get a professional photo of me with a purple car that was moved in to be photographed with me specifically. Because obviously. I'll post it when I get it. GOT IT (thanks Keely!):
In the meantime, Kyle took this one after showing up to the car show and finding me on the hood of the purple car and his response being to yell at me not to dent the hood. WITH MY ASS. 

Introducing Viola Sharp. via
The heart with the number there on my hip was my number for the contest. In case you had a burning desire to know.

After taking photos and then doing a little prance about the stage they'd set up, three judges tallied up our points and prizes were awarded to the top three contestants.

I won second place. 

I even have a trophy to prove it:
Introducing Viola Sharp. via
IT'S MADE OF CAR PARTS. HA. That's a lady holding a parasol, if you couldn't tell. 

I guess I'm okay with not winning first place as she was crowned "Mz White Trash & White Walls" (the name of the show) and I could probably live without that being something to put on my résumé. 

But it was quite the experience. I thought about it a lot from a feminist perspective, about signing up to be objectified, really, and decided that it wasn't about being seen by a bunch of strangers in my bathing suit. It was about me doing something I never dreamed I could even a year ago without having a panic attack and festering three months' worth of new self-loathing. I wasn't there for them -- I was there for me, which means objectification kind of fails when you refuse to participate in it, even when a gentleman with less teeth than I have on a single hand told me he wanted to stretch me over the top of his car and I just refused to acknowledge the comment, saying loudly enough to a fellow participant that my husband was due to show up any second and here's what he looks like so if you see him looking lost could you point him in my direction thanks so much.

I won't tell you what Kyle said he heard two guys behind him saying about me during the competition, but it was enough to make *me* gasp and go bug-eyed, so you know it was profane.

One thing I kept hearing from other women was that I was brave to be there in nothing but a bathing suit, but  for possibly the first time in my life I just couldn't get my brain to process that fear of being seen in so little. In the past couple of years I've become so proud of my body and what it's capable of that the fact that it's less than perfect doesn't bother me. I've been graced with a few culturally-desirable features and act ashamed due to a perceived failure in the pursuit of the impossible feat of perfection finally has hit me as nothing short of ridiculous. I don't expect really anyone to like the way I look -- but as long as I'm happy with what I see in the mirror and Kyle seems to minorly approve, then I'm good.

I think that's better for my kids to grow up around anyway than a mom that fits a very narrow (and frankly misogynistic) ideal of attractiveness and to watch her struggle to always maintain it.

I work out because it makes me feel good and I want to be healthy so I can enjoy my family for as long as possible. I like clothes and hair and make-up because it's another way to express my creativity and to play with public perception and challenge norms of femininity and beauty. And doing things that scare me, or appear scary, and being okay no matter what the outcome, I think that's an incredible lesson to teach them about confidence and self-worth and having fun and doing stuff that makes you happy no matter what anyone else thinks. Trying and failing is better than never trying at all. 

And the great part is that sometimes, you won't fail at all.
Introducing Viola Sharp. via