I have a small handful of post ideas brewing for TBN, but sometimes something jumps up to the top of the pile. One of my unspoken (well, not anymore!) New Years Resolutions is to be more bold in my appearance, be willing to be the 20 year-old again who wasn't afraid of anyone's opinion of what she wore. So when I was cataloging magazines today and came across this article in the current Oprah Magazine, I was inspired.
I had a hard time making myself look like Cheryl Tiegs on the cover of Seventeen magazine: Unlike Tiegs, I had flappy ears, chubby cheeks, tiny lips, and virtually no eyelids or eyebrows—all of which made me look more like the Parisian ladies of the evening in a 1930s Brassaï photograph than a California-blonde cover girl.
The gulf between the reality of my looks and the cultural ideal only widened when I began to work in the fashion industry. Early on, I decided to ignore the industry's dictates—so stifling, unattainable, judgmental—and make my own rules. I had long admired women with strong signature looks—Anna Piaggi, Diana Vreeland, Isabella Blow—for whom the fashion world seemed to make an exception. And I found myself reaching far outside the box for role models: to the women in Pre-Raphaelite paintings (those floaty clothes suited my physique far better than jeans and a T-shirt); to silent-movie heroines (their pale complexions were easy for me to replicate); even to Victorian dolls (whose round faces and rosebud mouths reminded me of me).
Inspired, I started experimenting. The copper henna I threw on my head to give my hair a quirky tint was a miracle—coating my limp bob and making it bouncier than I'd ever dreamed possible. And maybe there was nothing to be done for my abbreviated lids, but I could work wonders with my lips, exaggerating them into a dark Kewpie-doll shape that, unlike eyeshadow, suited me to perfection.
People have asked how I get the courage to walk the streets in, say, a shredded Comme des Garçons coat over a tutu, with metallic orange hair. I owe my confidence at least in part to my parents, who were convinced I was the cutest thing on Earth and told me so every single day. (Recently, seeing my reflection at a party, I could almost hear my mom saying, "Lynnie, you look so pretty!")
Though some of my more extreme choices have provoked laughter or incredulity, I also get more compliments than I could have imagined. This may be because I live in New York City, where a certain level of eccentricity is appreciated. But I like to believe that no matter where I lived, people would come to respect—maybe even like! admire!—the steps I've taken to create my own nutty, undeniably unique, and for me, deeply satisfying, look.