“It’s like you’re a chameleon,” said my nail technician. She was selling me the dream of multichrome grabbers. I wasn’t convinced but since she’s never steered me wrong, I went with it. After a few days of marveling at how my nails change according to how the light hits them, I was sitting at my desk when my tech’s words popped back into my mind.
I thought about it. I have never been able to adapt to an environment, like a chameleon. I suppose some would go as far as to say I have never been agreeable. That I am stuck in my ways. One person even said nginocuku. I think he meant it as a compliment.
Either way, it doesn’t feel good to know I am not water.
When I was a baby writer, I would get invited to a myriad of events. Sometimes they would be casual dos and other times, they would be a little more sophisticated. I would always wear sneakers. Over the years, my pants weren’t as baggy as they used to be. But no matter what I put over my body, my feet were always in Air Max or Jordans or Chucks.
I remember a woman I love and respect seeing me at one of these swanky gigs and asking me when I was going to start wearing heels. She said no one would take me seriously until I sidestepped the sneakers. I took her advice – and it paid off – on many things. But not when it came to sneakers. I was comfortable, even confident, in kicks.
Then a few years passed and it became even more acceptable and encouraged for women in the creative industries to show up to work functions in something other than high heels. I don’t feel smug about that turning of tables. But I do wonder if I would’ve been able to get into different rooms if I occasionally wore heels.
The optics matter, we know that. So has me dressing laid back with a fresh face and even phresher laces hindered some levels of success in the music industry?
Take, for instance, how many people reached out to me once I dyed my hair white and joined Touch HD. Or the compliments I get when I have my wig on as opposed to when I have cornrows or a scarf around my head. I don’t want to believe the music industry is that shallow. But we are a part of the entertainment world so…
And to be clear: I am aware that you could look how the world tells women to look and people will still not consider you for high paying gigs. Or once you look the part, you could still be told to dumb yourself down.
There are definitely winners here. But often, it’s not the women.
I forgot what point I wanted to make when I started writing this blog post. That’s extremely wack for a person who calls themselves a writer. Ha. But I would love to hear from people who do consider themselves chameleons. How has that worked out for you? Would you advise it for the rest of us?