Dec. 31st, 2011

sarcasticwriter: (PTSD Jesus)
So, New Year's. Thank god I didn't work it!

Doug the Best Friend and Al the Friend's New Year's Eve theme this year was Post-Apocalypse. This was not initially a very inspiring costume theme. I worked a little put on putting together a Mormon fundamentalist polygamist sisterwife costume, but the look is so distinctive that I wasn't able to adapt any clothing to it. Those dresses they wear aren't quite historical, and the pastels colors make it difficult to repurpose Amish clothing. After balking at spending $60 for a wrong-colored costume dress online that might not even fit, I decided to abandon my costume entirely.

This did not sit well with Doug the Best Friend, who moaned over breakfast earlier that week that none of the ladies in the group seemed inspired with his theme, and none of them wanted to put in any particular effort into their costumes. This despite "post-apocalypse couture" occasionally making an appearance on the runway.

"I don't think women like the post-apocalypse genre the way men do," I said. "Dudes have this fantasy that they're all going to become alpha male road warriors the moment society collapses, even though most of them are unprepared, out of shape, white collar desk workers. But women know, even if only subconsciously, that industrial infrastructure is critical for maintaining equality of the sexes. Without it, we're all just -"

And then inspiration struck.

I'm "Every Woman in the Post-Apocalypse." Perhaps with a subtitle: "After the Ammo Runs Out." It's too bad I'm trying not to laugh in that particular picture, it's the only full-body shot that turned out really well.

I spent the bulk of the morning working on my costume and doing a practice of my special effects make-up. Halfway in to my final make-up test, Juli the Friend called from her work, our sister property downtown, wanting to know if I could help her move some free furniture back to her apartment. I agreed, figuring I could drive over, wait in the car, and be home again with nobody wondering what the fuck was wrong with me.

That was, until I pulled up to the valet zone and wasn't able to get Juli on her cellphone in the building. Which meant that I had to stroll into the lobby and up to the front desk looking like I'd taken a vicious beating. Hayden, my old boss, was working the front desk, and her reaction was almost worth my embarrassment, even after I explained myself.

I came home and worked on distressing my sweater, t-shirt and skirt to make them look old, terribly old, and very worn out. Nothing substitutes for getting something dirty and stained, but I think I did a rather intelligent distressing of the sweater and t-shirt; putting rips into the usual places where seams separate in clothing, as well as the elbows and buttonholes. I'm particularly proud of the front of the sweater, where I ripped the buttonholes to make them look as though they'd been stretched out for years, then tied the sweater back together with strips from my skirt's hem. I also made some really big tears and roughly repaired them again. I think it looks terrible, but in a good way.

My original plan was to just use the chains, doll, and distressed clothes, but random inspiration struck while I was trying a new eyeshadow color, and suddenly special effects make-up seemed to be in order, although it took several practices to get it just right. Maybe too right, but I'll come back to that.

Amazingly, I only used four completely commercial, regular cosmetic products to achieve this effect; a Mac medium-brown matte eyeshadow, a Mac shimmery dark purple eyeshadow, a brown eyeliner pencil, and Stilla's Raspberry Crush cheek and lip stain. I used a contouring brush to swipe a light, dusting of brown down my eyelid and cheek, then several swipes of purple, just until I started looking...not right. Then, I rubbed the purple eye-color palate with my finger and used it to swipe on color with sharp, almost violent strokes. I patted on a little brown here and there as well, but tried very hard not to blend at all, since blending seems to be what takes a special effect from realistic-looking into "avante garde make-up." For the cuts on my forehead and lip, I traced a thin line of red lip stain, blended it out a little, traced a thin line of brown eyeliner, didn't blend it, then used my fingers again to pat on brown and purple bruises. For a finishing touch, I pumped several huge globs of lip stain into the end of my brush, and dotted it here and there, as well as under my "injured" eye like eye-liner. When the stain isn't brushed out, it keeps a pretty gelled consistency - unnervingly blood-like, actually.

I'll add that there's no foundation under the bruise; so the redness that I would usually cover with make-up helped the effect of inflammation along. But I'm sure a stain or dark blush could have replicated the look on somebody with better skin that me. I made up the other side of my face to as naturally flawless as possible, in comparison.

The only problem was...even though the rest of my costume - chains, baby doll, pregnant belly when I remembered to stand that way - should have indicated the make-up was an effect, some people didn't know it was an effect. Four hours after I walked into the party, and over late-night breakfast in a very well-lit Meander's, Ben the Friend asked "what happened" to me, and laughed in nervous relief when I said it was just make-up.

And I think that's why I didn't get the reaction I was expecting; knowing laughter maybe leading to a lighthearted debate about gender politics. Instead, people (especially those I didn't know well) often seemed awkward and distracted while I was talking to them. Men way, way, way more so than women. I got the impression that even those that reasoned out immediately that I was wearing make-up were still made uncomfortable by the effect of it.

That's good, in a way, because people should be deeply uncomfortable when confronted with evidence of wholesale abuse. But it was bad for a costume party, because that's not the time to manipulate people's visceral repulsion of violence against women. The joke of the over-the-top chains and baby doll and bare feet would have been funnier without explicitly commenting on deadly-serious-no-kidding-around victimization.

That said...

I'm turning that picture into a User Icon.


sarcasticwriter: (Default)

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