Saturday, February 14th, 2015
In honor of Valentine’s Day, we’re going to get a little bit serious on this normally silly blog.
This is my serious face. So put yours on, too.
For a over a year, I’ve run this site on the principle that you should wear whatever the f**k you want. You should aim to express the truest version of yourself when you wake up each day, and convey who you are in whatever way you choose.
For me, style is more than just a medium of self-expression. Style is communication with the human universe, and writing it off as self-expression doesn’t do it justice. It’s my way of showing the people who pass me by on the street, who I interact with throughout my day, or in the case of this blog, the people who I would never meet without the help of the internet, who I am. That person is a preppy but creative woman who doesn’t care what you think of her clothes, but would love to hear your opinion on which lens she should buy for her DSLR, or which New York City thrift store has the best selection of vintage designer trousers.
When I started this blog, my style was not nearly as unadulterated as it is today. After moving halfway across the country at a moment’s notice in January of 2013, living in an attic in New Jersey with a stranger and the world’s meanest cat for 8 months, and finally figuring out how to keep my head barely above water at my corporate job, I felt somewhat stable…if you count going from feels like I’m free falling out of plane to landing on the ground, standing up, and brushing myself off as “stable.”
I was surviving, but I was struggling. I made up for a lack of confidence with an abrasive attitude. I confused fear of rejection with independence. I thought saying “f**k you” to anyone that looked at me the wrong way was self-love. And I was really, really sad.
At home in Missouri, grown-up friends and family members often tell me that I’m brave for leaving the state I lived in for 21 years for New York City. But in order to be brave, you also have to be afraid.
Even as I boarded a near empty plane, flying alone for the first time, I felt pretty average. I wasn’t nervous. I wasn’t scared. I wasn’t excited. Moving to New York was like wading around in a shallow kiddie pool for awhile, then belly flopping into the deep end. When that sting makes it’s way through your body, you remember, “oh right, I am a toddler, and I know nothing about anything.”
Starting this blog, on the other hand, was terrifying from the beginning. I started That Cheap Bitch because I couldn’t find a site that made the content I was looking for. I wanted to read about clothes that I could afford without eating Ramen for every meal. I wanted a brand that didn’t have a single article about how long your hem should be on a first date. I wanted a site to say to me, “you know what? You can love playing dress up, curse like a sailor, enjoy reading about girly things AND still be a feminist, because no one can tell you who you are unless you let them. So dress however you want and love yourself.”
When I moved to New York, I knew that I could wake up in the morning, feed myself, get to work on time, and go back to sleep at the end of the day…easy enough. When I considered starting a website on which I would claim to be a style expert, herald myself as a hilarious comedian, assert that my opinions were 100% informed and correct, and tell everyone that they’re beautiful just the way they are when I didn’t even believe that about myself…that was f**king scary.
Here is what I have learned about bravery in the past two years: Bravery is standing up and saying “this is what I believe in,” then wiping off rotten tomatoes with a smile. Bravery is walking past the hissing cat who’s trying to block you from entering the kitchen…she’s just doing that because she knows you’re scared. Bravery is asking for help when you need it. Bravery is wearing a pair of silk high-waisted drop crotch pants from the 1980’s because you want to, even when your sorority girl boss is definitely going to judge you. Bravery is working hard to love who you are because you have no other choice. Bravery is trying to change for the better, even when it’s more comfortable to stay still.
Finally, all of this rambling has brought me to the point of this essay. The goal of this website, though small and poorly coded, is to challenge the ideas the mainstream fashion-centric media puts into the minds of women worldwide. It feels dishonest for me to attempt to push against the male-dominated media industry, preach a message of self-love, and proclaim that you should get dressed for you and you alone each morning, while hiding the fact that I am a queer woman.
This impacts my opinions on fashion, and I want to answer hard-hitting questions like, “if a lesbian wears boyfriend jeans, are they just called ‘what we were expecting from you anyway’ jeans?” I want to talk about how model Cara Delevingne, the current leader of the fashion model world, is queer, too. I want to address how lesbian chic is a thing the fashion industry thinks is trendy.
But most of all, I want to embody the message of being comfortable in your own skin, and saying “f**k you” to anyone who disapproves. Not only because that’s the Cheap Bitch brand…but because I have to to be happy, and I’ve worked for the past 23 and a half years to get here.
This is the first Valentine’s Day that I can say I love my girlfriend. This is the first Valentine’s day that I can say that I love the family and friends who have proved to me that unconditional love is a real thing, and that I love who I am. I hope you all have the same confidence that I finally carry each day. In the words of the philosopher and supermodel of the world RuPaul, “if you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else? CAN I GET AN AMEN?!”
I’m looking forward to being my most open, loud, f**k-anyone-who-doesn’t-accept-me self in the near future on That Cheap Bitch. Happy Valentine’s Day!