The BlogHer Fashion Show: Werk It! Who, Me?
When BlogHer Co-founder Elisa Camahort Page invited me to walk the catwalk in the BlogHer ’13 Fashion Show, my immediate reaction was, “OMG. Yes!” I had watched the first BlogHer Fashion Show in New York last summer, and made a mental note to myself: If I ever have a chance to walk the runway I have to do it.
Image: Danielle Tsi photography
My second reaction was: What have I gotten myself into?
They say your gut reaction is usually the right one. But the voices of doubt start whispering, then shouting loudly. Did I really want to put myself on the runway in front of thousands of opinionated bloggers, each armed with a camera phone and an Instagram account? As I packed my outfits for BlogHer, I realized I would be bringing a lot of other baggage as well. While I have never been truly overweight, I have my own insecurities. I have also never been tall, blonde, or even Caucasian, as most images in popular culture show us models should look like. I will never be bootylicious or boobalicious, either. The ideal runway model is a 42-year-old Asian woman who is 5’4” and the mother of two, said no one ever.
Once in Chicago, I met Darlene Gillard-Jones and her wonderful team of stylists to try on clothes loaned by local boutiques. On Thursday, I tried on possible outfits--slim cigarette pants, lace bustiers, leather jackets, and polished dresses--but I wouldn’t know what I was wearing until call time Saturday afternoon. Darlene and her team had styled outfits to flatter all of our gloriously different figures and play up our unique personalities: Grecian column dresses, sharp fedoras, tough leather jackets. My theme was apparently miniskirts and high heels. And the shoes! Red patent pumps and studded metallic sandals! I remembered how much I used to love wearing clothes like these, chasing breaking news in skirt suits and pumps. Those outfits have been gradually given away to Goodwill. One a typical day now, I’m most likely to be dressed in yoga pants and flip flops.
Image: Grace Hwang Lynch
Walking was the least of my fears. That is, until I saw the runway and the stage lights, the jumbotrons and the small army of technical directors working behind the scenes to switch between the array of shots. Just like in the control room of a TV station, there were multiple monitors showing every camera angle in high definition. Gulp.
During my first dry run, I learned that there is more to walking the catwalk than putting one foot in front of the other. Stepping onstage in the brightly lit hotel ballroom felt like appearing naked -- under fluorescent bulbs. I managed to walk the runway, as in I got to the end and back and didn't fall down. Our stylists modeled how to “werk it,” putting on a great show without even trying. The other bloggers loosened up, pouting and popping. My second turn, I tried to find my Sasha Fierce, but instead caught one of my four-inch heels in the carpet, slipping off my ankle. Why didn’t I just stick to blogging?
Darlene pulled me aside. “Walk slower, take your time,” she said. “ When you get to the end, face directly front for the cameras.” Someone else offered to find some heel pads and double-sided tape to make those shoes stay put.
Waiting backstage was excruciating. As host Wendi McLendon-Covey warmed up the crowd with her Beauty LOLs, I wasn’t sure whether to giggle or throw up. Judging by the volume of the laughter, the house was packed. The adrenaline of a live performance can go one of two ways: You can rise to the occasion or you can freeze up. I know. I've done them both.
Image: Danielle Tsi Photography
As I waited in the wings, I thought about Elisa’s original email to me. The fashion show, she wrote, is “an amazing expression of the beauty of the full diversity of our community.” That’s something I passionately agree with. And looking at my fellow blogger-models, I could see living proof of that: we were a kaleidoscope of body shapes and skin colors,some showing cleavage, others covered to wrist and ankle. They were all lovely, inside and out. Even me.
I ever have a chance to walk the runway, I have to do it.
Image: Danielle Tsi Photography
Hearing the cheers when I stepped into the spotlight, I knew I was going to be okay. I saw friends, and smiling faces sprinkled throughout the crowd, and cameras with giant lenses all around. I tried to slow down and enjoy the spotlight.
I werked it!
News and Politics Editor Grace Hwang Lynch blogs about raising an Asian mixed-race family at HapaMama.