I’m a huge poseur. I have been all my life. And while I’d been mimicking other kid’s skooter tricks for years, the art of posing truly began to manifest in my sophomore year of high school. That’s when I decided enough is enough; I was going to look exactly like Rae Jefferson. Rae was a girl in one of my classes who I’d been idolizing for over a year. She was effortlessly cool, confident, and dazzling. I wanted to be just like her even though we had nothing in common. I decided the best way to do this was to start with her clothes which I mimicked horribly for the next three years.
That’s where it began: my horrible imitations of Rae’s outfits. With that, the act of copying those I admired became a way of life.
In fashion, I looked to more people I admired and started dressing like them too. I admired Rachel Berry’s talent so I bought bobby socks. I listened to a lot of Lana Del Rey so I made and wore flower crowns.
Later, when I decided to become serious about writing, my poseur life dramatically shifted in a new (and not so surprising) way. At this point, I had written a few stories but, like every young writer, lacked an individual voice. As a result, I decided to copy exactly how other writers wrote. I read Les Miserables and forced myself to write like Victor Hugo, I read Mrs. Dalloway and did the same with Virginia Woolf. My point of view switched as I changed from J.K. Rowling to Sylvia Plath to Stephen King. Each author suffered my embarrassing wannabe stories in their style. When I go back into my journals and read my old short stories I can distinctly identify who I was reading at the time.
Of course, this whole confession of my posing is embarrassing. Looking through the archive of my Facebook I usually shutter. But while I was trying my hand at floral button downs and abstract prose I wasn’t just looking and writing poorly, I was figuring shit out.
The thing is, writing and fashion have become the two main ways in which I express myself. Being 14 and not knowing anything about myself, it was imperative that figured out who I was by copying. And now, since I have gone through all the posing, I feel I have a better grasp of what I like and who I am. I am able to more easily craft what I have to say and present myself to the world according to what I’m feeling. All this with the help of being a poseur (*crowd cheers*)
Of course, a lot of people say that this time for experimenting is contained to high school but I don’t think that’s necessarily true. Since people are constantly growing I think it’s safe to say posing is something that happens your entire life. With that being said, I think, in particular, Emerson is a place where it’s impossible not to be a poseur.
That sounds like an insult but it’s not. Emerson, as campy as this sounds, is a place for artists who are trying to find their individual voice. It’s a place where people with great taste are able to pluck what they like from those they admire and string it together to make it theirs. Are yes, they are poseurs until they do make it theirs. They are poseurs when they are inspired by a filmmaker, when they have heroes and when they create through that lens. And, you know what? It’s wonderful.
In many ways being a poseur seems like the most human thing in the world. It’s how people adapt to who they really are; like Eat, Pray, Love mixed with Darwinism.
I think Lourdes “Lola” Leon, Madonna’s daughter, sums up the embarrassing yet beneficial life of posing in her recent blog post. As an aspiring fashion designer Lola experimented a lot of clothing which eventually brought her closer to the style she likes. She writes:
“Oh how I wish I could go back in time and urge my 14-year-old self not to wear black rhinestone-studded t-shirts with bloody skulls on them, purchased from really “hip” stores (wtf is hip anyways). I like to reassure myself though, that I had to go through that awkward time of ‘trying stuff out’ to figure out what I liked wearing best.”