I’m a nerd and I like it that way.

In the 6th grade, I had a really hard time, which led to my doing very badly in all of my school courses. When I say badly, I do mean badly. I got D’s and F’s. I even got D’s and F’s in classes that I had never before gotten less than an A in. I was lucky though. My parents never used any of my childhood traumas as an excuse to allow me to expect less of myself. So my punishment was severe. I was grounded. I wasn’t a big tv watcher in the first place, so they took away that minor privilege and my video games. I didn’t go out much to hang out with friends (it’s kind of hard to even have friends when you’re always panicky about who you can trust as a kid) so books were my friends. A lot of people would disagree with what they chose but to be honest it was the best decision for me. They took away all of the books that were considered “entertainment” like the Baby-Sitters Club books and Sweet Valley High. I was left with tons of world dictionaries and a bunch of encyclopedias and only intellectual material for my “entertainment”. I think they wanted to give me at least something to cling to because being grounded without anything to improve myself with for two years (yep, they grounded me for two years) would have been drastic. Instead they gave me a choice. Knowing that I was a smart kid, they didn’t want to take away from that growth so they said “Improve your grades and you get all the fun books back. If you want to be able to take care of yourself in the future, learn everything you can now. Take this time to become everything you want to be. You can be mad about this or you can use it to your own benefit.”

I was mad for about a day. I was all “But my birth father is evil! He hates me! He never told me I had a brother! I found out from a cousin!” and “But I was abused! I’m confused and frustrated.”. But the fact is, that letting myself recoil into a self-pitying monster has never been my way, so I cracked open a random letter of the encyclopedia and started to read.

I didn’t really think that that would be what became my comfort zone. History is in many ways a science. Actually, it IS built up of sciences. Archaeology, Anthropology, Paleontology, etc.  The more I read about the mechanics of History and how the world works, the more resolved I became. I didn’t have a definite goal at the end of those two years but I did know three things. One, I did not want to rely on others to tell me what is right and wrong, what to think and do. Two, the first person I ever respected was my aunt Enie, who is a teacher and an amazing one at that, and I wanted to inspire people like she had always inspired me. I mean this woman travels the world over, teaches kids who are often times going through a form of hell none of us could ever understand, and she still has the energy and dedication to care for her family in ways that other people with less trying careers claim they’re too tired to do. Three, I wanted to learn everything I could about the world.

Now as an adult, I realize that, as noble as that is, sometimes I really don’t want to learn more about the world, what with all the killing and everything. Then I remember that if I hadn’t explored other cultures in any way, I wouldn’t know about anime, sushi, Buddhism, the British Victorian era, Steampunk, comic books, etc. In essence, all of the nerding out I do is related to that one experience.

I also know, after many years of struggling in Mathematics, that I have Dyscalculia. Part of me sometimes resents that the education system let that slip through the cracks and that I entered every college math class with dread. Exam times were excruciating because of my anxiety but having a learning disability put more emphasis on the struggle. For that reason alone, I almost feel inclined to be as open as I am about my disability, even in situations where I could actually get a job. But what’s a job if in 3 months they figure out I’m not capable of doing it because I was dishonest about the disability? I’ve had to let great opportunities slip through my fingers because the requirements they needed met were out of my control. I could do everything except large scale accounting. However, having my parents support that curiosity I had as a kid was paramount to my being able to function at all today. For someone who is passionate about contributing back to society, if I hadn’t of had that discipline and that nurturing, I could have easily lost to my troubles in learning Math.

So as someone who was once a kid, I can say this much: Parents, do your best to encourage your kids but don’t allow that encouragement to restrict how you discipline them. It doesn’t all have to be “Don’t wound his/her self-esteem.” or beatings. There IS a middle ground. Strip away all of the unnecessary and allow them to grow within the boundaries you set. If they fail a few classes, don’t convince yourself that grounding them will only make them hate the classes even more and make you into an enemy. That’s now how this works. Ground them, and within that grounding give them the tools to improve.

I can definitely say that I am grateful to my parents for having done it. I think your kids will also thank you (many years later. Sorry, instant gratification goes out the window when you have kids.). Either way at least you can be confident you’re heading in the right direction, right? I mean, I’m still kicking. That’s gotta be saying something.

Advertisements

Combining your personality with the elegance of someone you admire.

Claudette Colbert

Claudette Colbert

It’s hard, isn’t it, to combine your quirky and unique personality with elegance and grace? With certain role models, and the way the media portrays them, it is. The media portrays them as infallible, perfect, pristine. In many cases, if these role models died many years before we were aware of their existence, it’s hard to differentiate the truth from the facade. We see Audrey Hepburn as the quintessential it girl who was all grace, charm, and adorability. In a strange way, we almost liken her to the innocence of a child. That’s almost unfair to who she once was. After all, she was a grown woman when she became famous. She WAS elegant and graceful. She was charming. She was all of these things and more but we also need to see her for who she probably was in reality too. She was married. She had children. In other words she had sex. There was probably quite a bit of sensuality to her, too. She had a temper. She was spontaneous. Same goes for Claudette Colbert who was probably one of the more uproarious women in her industry at the time. She didn’t bite her tongue, she could drink and could smoke with the best of them, and she could stomp her foot and have her way any time she damned well pleased. In other words, she was a black sheep covered in soot in a time full of diamonds, but damn could that black sheep shine. Claudette radiated confidence, strength, determination. She could dress up in the finest of clothing and still carry this aura about her that said she could shoot you down in an instant if you gave her a gun and were then dumb enough to make her angry. She was definitely a tomboy nerd.

That brings me to the major part of this post. Nerds anywhere can tell you that there’s a variety of nerd classes. Like in a video game full of different races, classes, and sub classes, there is ALWAYS another layer to the nerd kingdom. I’ve had time to figure out that I don’t classify as just a nerd, and I’m not just some girl with a princess complex. In any case, I’m too complex for that. I totally did that on purpose by the way. I’m both. I love pretty things, elegance, and I love Batman, Gumby, Comic Books, X-Men, action movies, and video games.

I’m a nerd but I am (or at least try/want to be) an elegant nerd. I’ve got a Vargas Pinup girl dressed in pink on a postcard right next to one of Janine Basil’s postcards that features a pretty girl wearing one her of “Kapow” headbands. I make steampunk jewelry because I love quirky things and I collect plushies because they’re adorable.

Don’t take my word for it though. Look at the many examples around us of how nerdy meets elegance. Actresses like Kat Dennings, Zooey Deschanel, Pauley Perrette, and Felicia Day. Consider the cosplayers who don’t fall into the sloppy, slutty, or even crude categories. Factor in the history and the very definition of “nerd”. Why can’t a nerd be someone who is passionate about elegance too?

Take Pauley Perrette as an example. Here she is in her typical Abby (from NCIS) garb. Keep in mind that she actually dresses like this on a regular basis in real life as well.

ImageShe’s definitely goth rock, punky, nerdy, and absolutely awesome in every way you can think of. In fact, Abby is love, and if you don’t know that, I feel sad for you but that’s okay because you’re awesome anyway. Pauley is love too. I guess she has to be since they’re the same person.

Point is, she’s still elegant. She doesn’t look sloppy even when she is wearing all black, and combat boots. Her clothes are clean, she smiles, and she encourages the people around her. She has confidence in herself but doesn’t put others down. These are all amazing things that any elegant person should have. Oh, and that whole expectation that being goth means you always have to fit into the “goth” mold? Bull. I happen to also be a goth. I just don’t need to advertise it in some form of rebellion against society. I’m cool with who I am inside and while sometimes I waver and falter on who I am on the outside, and worry about how I’m perceived, I know without a doubt what I really enjoy in life and who I am. That brings me to another image of Pauley. This time dressed for an event in Hollywoodlandia. Yeah, I make names up too, and I like it that way.

Pauley a la glam

She sparkles, she shines, she’s Pauley. She just isn’t in the same clothes people usually expect her in. Does that mean she’s lost her identity just because she changed clothes? I’m guessing not, since she’s still smiling and excited in the picture. I’m also guessing not because while she has adapted her wardrobe for a more appropriate ensemble for this event, she keeps a few key pieces that retain their rocker essence. The cuff, the smokey makeup, the jet black hair, even the front zipper (a usually no-no thing at gala events), all radiate this feeling of unique amongst a sea of similar dresses and styles.

It’s not a matter of how much you spend, or how true to your roots or style you are. It’s a matter of being as true to yourself as you can possibly be. If you like something cute, go for it. If you like something dark and broody, go for it too. Eventually you’ll figure out exactly how much of each you want to pour into any outfit. Especially since there are ALWAYS days when you’ll want to be a bit more sparkly than dark and vice versa. All you have to keep in mind that the keys to elegance are a smile, a kind heart, a tiny bit of effort to keep things clean and well kept, and these words each morning when you look in the mirror.

“I can’t control what happens around me today, but I can always control how I react to it. No one can take that away from me.”

Since we’re on the topic of roles and personality, what about cosplays? If you browse the net, it’s easy to assume that most female cosplay features women who look sloppy, tacky, or almost obscene from just how much flesh seems to pour out at all the wrong spots in their outfit. That’s not always the case though. There are tons of awesome cosplays which don’t turn a girl into a horrifying colorblast or into a stripper on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Nope. There are elegant cosplays out there and they feature some fantastic characters. This one is featuring the lead couple from Paradise Kiss. Keep in mind that very rarely do human beings ACTUALLY LOOK like any of the characters in an anime. It’s almost unheard of. That doesn’t mean that just because you don’t look like them, you get a free pass to slap together anything that’s sloppy or tacky. It’s not about the character. It’s about how you perceive yourself too. If you throw on whatever and look sloppy, then what does that say about how YOU feel? Even if it weren’t that you felt bad about yourself, the lack of effort makes it seem so, and you just won’t have as much fun. Make the effort because the experience will be that much more enhanced for you. The memory will be one of the best and not just “good”. These guys made an amazing effort and pulled off the attire really well. It’s not perfect, and it doesn’t have to be, but it’s clean and well executed.

If you’re thinking that this must have cost them a fortune, then it could be that you’re right. It could be that you’re not. Either way, money doesn’t have to be the main factor in your cosplay. Quality is. If you don’t have a huge budget to blow on a pre-made costume and lack the skill to make one yourself, consider great characters who don’t have as elaborate an outfit but still make an impression, like Nelliel Tu Odelschwanck from Bleach. Now, I’m not a Bleach fan (I know, I know. Sorry. Not really sorry though.) but I do think this is one of the best ways to pull off this character on a slight budget. 

I couldn’t find this girls name anywhere, but if anyone knows who she is, feel free to let me know so I may credit her for the image. I’d also like to tell her she’s makes a fantastic Nelliel. So as you can see, it doesn’t take a fortune, and it doesn’t take you being Asian to pull these off. It takes intention, delivery, and the effort between the two.

Now, not all nerdy people appear nerdy. Not all are into the goth scene or into cosplay. Some may not even care about action figures or comics (okay, most do, but not all). Otaku is a term considered derogatory in Japan, to describe someone so incredibly obsessed with a particular subject or subculture, that they renege all efforts of living a normal life. Amongst anime fans, it’s sometimes a badge of pride. In North America, however, the term nerd was viewed very similarly until more recent times, and in very subtle ways we began to notice that even people who didn’t appear nerdy, could have a nerdy aesthetic to them.

Kat Dennings and Zooey Deschanel can usually fit this category. They both are kind of tomboyish and from what the media would have us know about them, apparently they both like comics and things like that. They don’t seem like they belong in the nerd category though, and that’s okay. Even nerdy people and quirky people have the right to be pretty. It’s obnoxious to think otherwise. That would be like saying that someone who is considered unattractive has to be completely excluded from the entertainment industry because it’s for “pretty people”. Hello, calling Steve Buscemi! Many find him unattractive but, personally, I think he’s the cats meow because of his confidence, his effort, his courage to stand on stage or in front of a camera to take a hit. That marks a gentleman, and being a gentleman is an elegance in and of itself.

As far as I’m concerned these two ladies are nerds and are gorgeous. If you think dressing like them is impossible, then think again. With companies like Modcloth and with thrift shops, it’s very possible to pull off their retro looks that they seem to have effortlessly. Here’s a secret: It’s not effortless. They have a team of people who help them get ready for photoshoots and big events. I bet you already knew that though. You can achieve their styles with a twist of your own and still be as elegant.

 kat dennings zooey deschanel

If you’re a full on nerd who loves quirk and uniqueness, but do want to incorporate more elegance into your daily wear, these aren’t a bad way to start. Your accessories can amp up the quirk, simply by adding an element of the unexpected.

   7095_sap_retro_full 8187_ash_rainbow_full2 8333_sha_8bitearrings_full68408_sha_clock_fullshanalogic sloth 8487_sha_mosaicred_full21055_ukiyo_blossom_full  9053_cla_penguin_fullshanalogic dino earring set shanalogic dragons egg  shanalogic northern lights ring shanalogic nyan

These are all really quirky and adorable pieces that would go well with some of the more recent fun clothing that the actresses mentioned above are wearing. I could see Claudette Colbert wearing the northern lights ring from shanalogic (second to last image), since it has that quirky ethereal vibe to it. Some of these pieces suit Pauley Perrettes style while others suit Kat Dennings or Zooey Deschanel, and some ore just quirky and fun that can appeal to a variety of outfits while being simple enough to not detract from an outfits elegance. It’s all in how you work them into your wardrobe, and more importantly, how you work them into your confidence. As a human being you have value. As a person you have rights. As an individual, there are many things that can define you and there should be no shame in the way you carry yourself. As long as you harm no one and don’t knock yourself down, then embrace yourself and your quirks. Tattoos are neat. Just be smart about them. Quirky earrings are fun, just wear them however you want. Mix and match even. Who is to say that what you’ve chosen isn’t “the right way to wear this or that”? Just carry yourself with grace, confidence, and remember that no one can tear you down unless you let them, and you’ll be fine. Treat others with kindness and be genuine about it. If you don’t like someone, then just don’t harm them. No need to pretend to be besties. Just be honest without being cruel. Wish them well, move on, and live your life. These things exude grace. The rest of your actions are just an accessory to your inner person, but they do add to who you are. Same as an accessory adds to an outfit.

                                                 zooey-deschanel-in-pink-wallpaper

 When I consider the most defining elegant nerdy girl, I see Felicia Day. She’s kind, hard working, quirky, and doesn’t try too hard. Her awkwardness is even graceful in a way.

Felicia+Day+24th+Annual+Producers+Guild+Awards+BvpZ2fP4fkhx

 There are probably tons of women like this, and just as many men who are nerdy gentlemen. We all probably have completely different ideas of what fits into the nerd category and just as many different ideas for gentlemanliness or elegance. These are just my own, and while the focus is on womens attire on the surface, the message that I feel is most important is the effort to be kind. Not just to others but to yourself as well. Give yourself the best chance for happiness. Give yourself the best chances for success. Your OWN idea of success, too, not someone elses. Define yourself, for your own sake and not for the sake of others.

As for the curvier girls, like myself, keep in mind that your curves are a part of you. Don’t shun them. Don’t let anyone define you by them either. Kat Dennings, Christina Hendricks, and Octavia Spencer are all curvy girls who are also topheavy. That has not changed their kindness or their ability to function in society. It has not diminished their worth as people or artists. In our case, the nerdy case, we may not fit the ideal image that most guys have from watching movies or playing video games where the girls are completely different than us, but we have worth. We are real. We exist beyond a screen and that gives us value. Don’t ever doubt that. If you also wonder about clothing, don’t doubt that it’s out there. If these women can find it then so can we.

 elle-008-women-in-hollywood-red-carpet-looks-octavia-spencer-xln-lgn Pencil-Skirts-for-Plus-Sizes

It all begins with effort, and once the initial effort is made, a lot of it becomes effortless.

Elegance = Effort + (Kindness)2 x Confidence

In other words, elegance is effort and kindness towards others and ourselves multiplied by confidence. It becomes easier to be kind the more you do it. It becomes addictive. Effort becomes easy once you get the ball rolling, and you gain confidence as you do these things. With that confidence you gain energy to do it even more, and just like that you’ve begun a very healthy cycle in your life.