When I was at the delicate age of twelve there was a summer class offered on beauty. I remember the class description being vague, at best. My mother was thrilled, she has always been one for layering beauty on oneself. I thought the class might be more about cultivating inner beauty and positive self image. But I was wrong.
The beauty class explored practicalities: how to wear make-up, buy clothes and plan your image. A required beauty workbook (yes, you read that right – a beauty textbook!) explained the central unifying theory of image making: find your season and how to structure everything around that theme. Everyone could be grouped into one of the four seasons, and each season had a natural color palate and sense of style. Due to my brown hair and brown eyes I was placed into Autumn with a rust, gold, burgundy and brown color scheme. I remember the ache in my heart as I watched the summer and spring girls around me, with their shiny blonde hair and crisp, bright colors. Fun colors.Theirs was the domain of green, pinks and turquoise. Cute dresses. Then there were the mysterious winter girls with their alabaster skin and dark, exotic hair and eyes. They got to explore the jewel tones of that season, the lush feel of velvet, and clothes with romantic flowing collars and lace trims. By comparison, I felt a decaying time of year. Dressed much like a boring pumpkin.
I was thinking about this beauty class recently as I’ve been considering what project I want to work on next. Sometimes I feel like I get stuck in my own season, jealously observing others who are working in different genres and styles. I know theme isn’t set in stone. There is room to explore other areas of interest. That is how voice and style grow, by pushing the boundaries of what is known. There are no real rules. Only the rules you make for yourself. I can write about anything I want. It is one of the great things about being unknown (see, there are great things about it!), there is freedom to explore and write that space-cowboy-ninja adventure tale if I so choose. Or not.
Incidentally, I did learn some things in that beauty class: how to use clear nail polish to stop a run in pantyhose, how to get a fresh bloodstain out of your clothing, and how many different kinds of infections you can get from mascara. So, armed with this info, I’m all set to write a beauty of a fight scene.
Photo: Ramón Peco