On the outside, I am appropriately tame. I don’t dress wildly or have weird-colored hair. Clients, after all, have a problem with that. But when I am at home, I favor earthy and tie-dyed clothes.
However, I do have a few non-standard visible piercings (nose, ear cartilage). I try to keep the jewelry in them small when I am at work, and save the wilder or noticeable jewelry for my non-work hours.
The jewelry, the clothes, the living in Birkenstocks in the summer – this is more in line with the person I feel I am.
My husband is also very much the same way. When he puts on his accountant mask, the earrings come out, and Birkenstocks go away. At home he’s got the earrings in, and wears his paint-spattered clothes without self-consciousness.
I was thinking about this during a recent visit to Faeriecon. Faeriecon is a convention of people who are interested in fantasy art, writing and spirituality. About 1/3 the people walk around all weekend in some form of costume. The masquerade balls on Friday and Saturday night have almost everyone in costume. During that time I saw Elrond (who spoke Elvish to my husband), Gandalf (complete with a plasma ball on the end of his staff), a raven (completed with feathered cape and Native American symbols) and so many faerie wings I couldn’t count them (just as a point of reference, the Fey don’t have wings).
My husband and I both dressed a bit. Hubby wore a utili-kilt and leather vest. I had a leather jerkin to wear over a ruffled shirt and flowing skirts.
At the convention, we completely fit in. At the hotel across the street, we were met with stares, much as the other convention-goers were.
In fact, on Saturday we got on the elevator with in-costume folks and asked if they were going to the dance, and they came back with “we’re at the convention across the street.” What did they see? A couple in regular, somewhat-conservative clothes. They assumed we weren’t part of the group.
So as I reflect on this, I reflect on all the people that I know or that I see every day. What are they like away from the groups I see them in? Is it normal to have a face you present to the world that is very different from who you are? I see the value in it, but I wonder how common it is.
Photo by EpicFireworks