Let your freak flag fly

Every once in awhile, you read an article and you think, I love this person. That’s how I felt when I read, “Iris Apfel Doesn’t Do Normcore” in the New York Times this week.

I’d never heard of Iris Apfel before, but I’m going to go on record to say she must be the coolest 93-year old on the planet.

Let me rewind to a side conversation that happened Friday morning. A co-worker came into my office with a new, funky shirt on. We said how much we liked it, even though she started by saying it was different, almost apologizing. I was wearing one of my favourite Aztec sweaters. Every time I wear this sweater or one of my ponchos, someone (usually Dave, since that’s what husbands are for) makes a joke about me being Pocahontas or something.

Then at lunch I read about Iris Apfel. Iris has been a mainstay of the New York fashion scene for decades and is the subject of a new documentary. Here are some “Irisicsms” from the article.

“I think, given a choice, it’s better to be unstylish but happy.”

I love clutter. I think being totally minimal shows a lack of history and soul, and I find it sort of pitiful. I think it’s wonderful to have stuff and live with memories and things you enjoy.”

“There’s no free lunch, baby. You have to give up something to get something else, but that’s a very small price.”

This week’s #HappyAct is to read the article for inspiration, then let your freak flag fly. Be you, wear what makes you happy and be fearless.

Post script: I loved this article because it drew on so many of my blog posts over the past year. See these happy acts for bonus inspiration…

Watch Iris’ movie trailer…

Embrace your natural self

Nicole Richie with purple hairI was catching up on entertainment news this week and saw a clip on Nicole Richie, who is sporting shocking purple hair for her reality series. A day later, I saw an article in People magazine on celebrities who’ve had tattoos removed (more about tattoos in a minute).

I’m always curious why people feel they need to change what’s given to them naturally. Let me be clear to pre-empt the inevitable comments about being prejudiced against people who look different. I’m not against purple hair or tattoos. I’m all for being different and applaud individuality. I just don’t get why you would want to drastically change your natural self.

If you’re in the entertainment industry, it’s different–it’s about image and attracting attention. Two people I admire are Katy Perry and Lady Gaga. Both are incredibly talented artists and brilliant businesswomen who aren’t afraid to take risks and showcase their individuality in different ways. Interesting, both also have not been afraid to show their natural looks to their fans and public.

As a society, I think it’s safe to say we are obsessed with appearance. I’ve always preferred the natural look, but I’ll admit there is a secret side to me that wishes I wasn’t so “normcore”. Yes, I discovered there is a name for people like me. Normcore is “being unselfconscious in a society that’s gone uber-conscious. For the sake of argument, let’s call it trendlessness,” according to the Financial Post.  As I get older, I’ll admit I’m more self-conscious about my looks, especially the effects of aging. But any desire I have to change my appearance stems from a desire to restore my natural beauty that is fading with age, as opposed to trying to change what I look like.

There is a girl I know who epitomizes what I’m trying to say about embracing your natural self. She often has a pink or purple streak in her hair and wears funky clothes. These outward expressions actually convey her natural self beautifully, which is someone who is fun, energetic and who has an incredible outlook on life.

Finally, a word on tattoos. Again, for the record, I think tattoos are really cool and view them as incredible works of art. I will never get one for two reasons. First, I have a cardinal rule to avoid inflicting pain on my body. Second, they irreversibly alter my natural self. Hair styles, clothes—they can all be changed at the drop of a dime but tattoos are forever.

There is a third reason, and that is a question I’d like to put out there without judgement. Like it or not, we are a society obsessed with appearance. People stare at tattoos. In your interactions in life, do you really want your tattoo to speak for who you are? For this reason, and because tattoos are forever, I don’t think anyone under the age of 25 should get tattoos. There, I said it. Let the comments fly.

But before you lambast me, read this article on what visible tattoos might do to your chances of being hired.

This week’s #HappyAct is to embrace your natural self, whatever that may be. Don’t be afraid to show who you are, but make sure what you do on the outside expresses who you are on the inside.