why I love fashion magazines

When I was a kid, my mom cut my hair, chop across, bangs usually not straight and short. I hated my hair cut, I wanted long, curly, blonde hair. I had short, straight, thick hair. I wanted a cute face, I had an intense wild child face. I wanted to be frilly and feminine and thin and delicate and I was strong and wore whatever was handed down or these great dresses my mother made. But nothing girly and she never wore makeup and no one told me anything. So, I started to read fashion magazines and use lemons in my hair and on my elbows and make homemade avocado masques and send away for samples and curl my hair with rags and braids and study beauty in novels and film because it had undeniable power, seductive, stupid power but nevertheless...Anna Karenina, Catherine Earnshaw, Amy in LITTLE WOMEN, most of the Dickens heroines, some of Jane Austen's. I mean, these chicks were sometimes described as plain but then the man was usually blind or maimed or somehow damaged. When I was beautiful the summer I turned fifteen I was punished for it. I was date raped by my first date and then blamed, I was told repeatedly I had caused the men who misbehaved around me had done so because I was beautiful. They said I made them crazy. I didn't understand and then I despised myself for causing so much ugliness and drinking made me feel better. I never believed any of the men who told me I was beautiful. Except this one wonderful boy who came to see me after the rape and took me on a picnic and filled my lap with flowers and was very kind and gentle. We made homemade burnt-almond ice cream and I told him some of what happened and he was really kind. He said I was beautiful but it wasn't my fault and that I should know I deserved to be loved. He kissed me and made me hope that sometime I wouldn't be so afraid of men. He called me from Corpus Christi for years after that but I never saw him again. I was fifteen and he was eighteen.
I went to see the SEPTEMBER ISSUE about creating this mega issue of VOGUE which I read every month and was struck by Grace Coddington, one of the veteran beauty editors, who is now this amazing, sixyish force of creativity who designs incredible tableaux for the models, images that tell stories and make the clothes look gorgeous and make you imagine all sorts of things. Her pictures remind me of Atget's photos where you feel like living in the imaginary world. I never dress like a Vogue woman or spend the money but I am fascinated by the industry, the weirdness of it all.
Coddington had been a beautiful model but she had some sort of serious car crash and had plastic surgery and started taking pictures instead. She's still striking with a mane of red hair and her ability to cut through the bullshit and yet still love the beauty, the clothes, the lighting, the act of creation, the fantasy. She isn't necessarily about perfection but she sees things and says she was told by a mentor (Avedon maybe) never to sleep during car rides so she can keep her eyes open. I love this advice and agree as a storyteller. I try to think of the weird things I witness and the conversations I overhear as helpful. I need to pay attention to the world around me. That's why I couldn't live in the Buddhist Monastery past a certain point. How much can you write about the bowing, the sitting, the crush on the monk, the bread baking, the perfect boredom of it all? I had to return to the crazy chaos. Still, a week of solitude in the mountains should be what i need to find the vampire creator within.
I need to scare myself, turn myself on and cry. I need to make Lilith someone people love and hope for her happiness.


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