Thursday, June 12, 2014

What I Learned as a “Curler Girl”: Lessons from My Show Choir Days

I am a fairly girly character these days. I love floral prints and salmon pink and frilly skirts. I love lace and chiffon. I wear flowers on my head. But, when I was in high school, I wasn’t exactly what you’d call “girly.” At all.

I was terribly interested in historical fashion, but that interest hadn’t yet bled into my wardrobe. I almost didn’t buy an adorable top because it was simply “too girly” (puff sleeves, ruffled yoke, and textured white fabric –hardly revolutionary by my standards now). I lived in t-shirts and jeans. I only started getting my hair colored at my mother’s insistence. I didn’t wear makeup and I didn’t do much more than brush my hair most days.

And yet, one activity stood as a bastion of girliness in my life: show choir.

Me back in the day.
Look at that foot position.

Yes, that’s right, I was in show choir from eighth grade through my senior year. I wore sequins. I wore makeup for the stage. I wore swirly skirts and dance tights. I learned to run in heels. I curled my hair (even if it did take a team of five girls to do so). I wore enormous, sparkly jewelry and sang about love. I have college friends who are still shocked by this information, despite my now-girly manner of dress.

And, honestly, I’m glad I was in show choir. I learned several lessons that have helped me out in the years since. It was a surprisingly good introduction to fashion, and my style still benefits from it today.

1. Knowing your own face is important.

Because I wasn’t terribly girly, there were always girls looking forward to doing my makeup when it came time for the show. However, because these girls didn’t know my face, the results ranged from a bad brush with over-applied gunmetal eyeshadow to too-dark foundation that made me look orange. I learned fast that if I wanted to look presentable, I’d need to know what looked right on my face.

2. So are your undergarments.

Before I dropped into the Lolita world of bloomers and petticoats, show choir taught me the importance of my outfit’s foundation. The right bra made the occasional shimmy bearable. Dance tights kept everything held tight. Spanx kept me from feeling exposed in twirly skirts. They were all essential. And, no matter what style I’m pulling from, the right undergarments are still essential.

3. Choose your battles.

We were expected to have bouncy, chipper curls for every show and, as previously mentioned, it took a team of five to get my hair up to that standard. It lasted an hour at most. When I wasn’t performing for competition, curling my hair was a battle not worth fighting. It still isn’t. Sometimes, you just have to choose which battles are worth fighting for your style, and which aren’t.

4. The art of the quick change.

I would never be able to pull a Lolita pit stop without this. Show choir forced me to be able to do, among other things, a complete outfit change in a stairwell in two minutes flat. I put this skill to work every time I need to pull off an outfit change in a restroom, in a closet, or even at home.

5. Confidence is everything.

My senior year, I got moved to the top show choir mid-year and had to learn the show without help in just three weeks. The girls were catty. The work was hard. However, as long as I kept my head high and my shoulders back, nobody questioned my right to be there. The same goes for every outfit I have ever worn.

6. “Girliness” is not weakness.

There’s a common misconception that femininity is weakness. That is completely untrue. If I can dance on blistered feet and still wear a smile, stare down a girl who had made a rude comment, or make it through a long evening dance practice and still bicycle home, I can do just about anything. My skirts have nothing to do with it either way.

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