Thursday, September 09, 2004

Peoria Is Not Fashion Hell. Not Even Fashion Purgatory.

Eyebrows does not wear prairie skirts. Eyebrows has consistently refused to give in to platform clogs, slides, and sneakers. Eyebrows skipped the cigarette pants revival, contending that such slim pants only look good on ultra-thin women like Audrey Hepburn, who suffered malnutrition as a teenager as part of the Dutch underground during World War II and could never thereafter gain weight. Eyebrows certainly does not wear, as the fashionista e-mail "Daily Candy" suggested today, "butterfly belly chains" which, according to Daily Candy, earns you "a one-way express ticket to fashion Peoria."

Daily Candy should be so lucky.

Eyebrows has a problem. She buys things that she finds unique and unusual ... only to discover, two months or six months or a year later, that they're on the "must-have" pages of every
fashion magazine. She picked up a wool-cashmere cape in London and wore it for two years before it became the "it" accessory ... and, of course, subsequently went out of style and was as over as hypercolor T-shirts. She ordered funky patterned tights online (once again, from London) about six months before they started hitting the pages of US fashion magazines. She bought a cute pair of Caparros, and saw them the very next month as that month's "must-buy" shoe in Glamour. She made a cute skirt in a colorful "patchwork" fabric, but updated it by making it an A-line and decorating the hem with 1/2" rivets - only to see similar patterns cut into sleek skirts with rock-'n'-roll details hit the stores eight months later.

Eyebrows is glad to know that the major fashion magazines are taking their cues from her, but it hurts her that they thinks she lives in a
fashion deadzone.

Eyebrows is aware that coastal types can't be bothered to visit the midwest. She doesn't really want them to - if they visited us here once in the
heartland, they'd move here and ruin it for the rest of us. All the same, it bothers Eyebrows when her homeland is treated in the national press as a land of rubes, hicks, and mysterious "farmers" who milk "cows" and somehow form this old-fashioned "heart and soul" of America. The Washington Post sends reporters on fact-finding missions to the midwest during election cycles, to see what the "average American" is thinking. These reports inevitably take on a tone that, if applied to a third-world nation, would be decried as racist or neo-imperialist. This is apparently the kind of thing that "plays in the Beltway" - the mocking of us everyday Americans as simplistic rubes - which tells you a lot about what's wrong with our country.

It's little wonder that Chicago has a
second-city complex, when legions of New Yorkers and Los Angelinos can't find it on a map. Eyebrows cannot count the number of times that coastal types have insisted to her that there are no beaches in Chicago, despite her repeated insistence that "there's a lake that you can see from SPACE! With waves! And tides! You know, one of the really big ones in the middle of the country that contain more than 20% of the world's fresh water, you thirsty bastards???" Incidentally, the number one comment Eyebrows hears from coastal folks seeing Lake Michigan for the first time is, "Wow, it's really big! I couldn't see the other side!" (duh.)

It's even worse for those of us living elsewhere in the midwest, in Peoria and Rockford and South Bend and Milwaukee and Grand Haven and Des Moines and
Oconomowoc. Midwesterners are nice folks, and polite folks, so we won't often tell you to shove off when you make moron farm jokes about people from Indianapolis, but we'll be thinking it.

But back to Eyebrows's fashion problem. The truth is that Eyebrows has lived in a lot of places, from DC to
London, Chicago to Raleigh, and that rarely have her fashion-forward looks garnered as much admiration as they do in Peoria. She gets away with looks in Peoria that got her sideways scornful looks in DC. Now, she admits some of her neighbors are probably just being nice, but mostly they seem to consider all but her most outre cutting-edge looks fun, funky, and different. (Eyebrows thinks boutique websites should pay her commissions for the number of people she sends to them who want to copy her look.)

So if Daily Candy were at any point so lucky as to drop by Peoria, they might discover a vibrant, multiracial, economically diverse community that's shockingly politically involved. Daily Candy might discover our many funky little shops and boutiques, our collegiate community, our surprisingly dynamic
arts life, and - yes - our fashionistas. Daily Candy might discern the joys of living in a city with the most of the benefits and the "feel" of a big city, but no traffic to speak of and a low cost of living. But then, Daily Candy's staffers probably can't afford both to travel and to pay for their dinky New York apartments. But if they do decide come out and visit, Eyebrows might even take them to play a little cow bingo or wander through a corn maze.

Because while Eyebrows loves the
ballet, there's just something about hollering at a cow to poop in a certain square that's good clean fun. The kind of fun too many denizens of the Beltway and the Big Apple and La-la Land will never get to experience, because they can't imagine a world where urban and rural, fashion and 4-H, can exist side-by-side and one can enjoy the benefits of both.

Perhaps Eyebrows shouldn't have let the secret out; most midwesterners really can't imagine why people choose to live
elsewhere, but we're glad they do, because otherwise they'd make it really crowded here. (Plus, they might not understand the glories of bratwurst and that would just be tragic.) So if you're a coastal-type, forget everything you've read. The midwest is too cold, too hot, and we're all hay-chewing hicks wearing straw hats (or John Deere trucker hats!) and answering "yeee-up" to every question. You'd hate it here. Eyebrows is sure of it.


Anonymous said...

Eyebrows I don't think you have anything to worry about. Years of hearing that the Northeast is far superior to the rest of the country will be hard to overcome. Even if Peoria does sound like heaven.

Anonymous said...

And I do love and appreciate Bratwursts.

Star said...

Man. Do us all a favor, Eyebrows... Never. Ever. Stop. Ranting. You say it so well!

The problem, of course, is that there are those Midwesterners (like all of my cousins) who do fit the stereotypes... But dang it, the rest of us don't, and it's unfair to--

Well, what you said. ;)

As for butterfly belly chains--who needs 'em anyway. I never did like the "let's bedeck ourselves with as many butterflies as possible" thing, and as for belly chains... Well, yeah. Whatever. *G*

Empire1 said...

Excellent rant, EB! And it can also be applied to Slower Delaware (aka everything south of the C&D Canal).
Big-city types, people heading for Maryland beaches, etc.: kindly stay on Route 1, or no farther west than US 113. Or farther west than the Chesapeake Bay. Leave us happy rustics alone. Thank you!