Big Sunglasses R HAWT

April 1, 2009 § Leave a comment


Last week I met with my dealer for the first time in a while. The cab dropped me off at our usual meeting spot–the Port Authority Bus Terminal of New York–the last place anyone would think to bust for this kind of ‘business.’ I was hungry for the stuff.

Knowing what a loyal customer I am, my dealer was happy to see me. She asked if I’d come for more.

“No, I came to have tea and biscuits,” I thought. Everybody knows you don’t chit-chat with your dealer. The truth is I was in desperate need of more “Jackie O.” Most drug addicts have a name for their poison: Angel Dust for coke; Mary Jane for weed; Tina for Crystal Meth.

“Let me show you what I’ve got,” she said. “I’ve got some good stuff for you.”

As she showed me bag after bag of Jackie O., I kept saying “bigger!”

It’s true that I’m a bit of a size-queen.

I finally settled on a bag that would last me a long time. I was excited about it. I thanked my dealer, promised to come back in a couple months and snuck out the door with my newest pair of sunglasses!

Instantly upload new picture. Change profile. Enter username. In our culture of Craigslisting, iPoding, eBaying, Facebooking, online shopping, home-delivered groceries, online dating, automated this and digital that, just about every possible human interaction is becoming exponentially more impersonal. Faster than you can click “go to checkout”. And perhaps not so fortunately, our social relations are being watered down to a single “poke”.

And call me old fashioned, but no matter what Mark Zuckerberg tells you, “poking” is most appropriate in the bedroom.

All of these impersonal social relations mean that nowadays it is difficult to get noticed in the real world — especially by objects of our desire. Because everything I need to know about you I can read on Myspace. I can read your profile to decide if the real you is interesting enough for me to talk to.

Part of the appeal to represent ourselves online is the chance to be anybody but our boring selves. Online profiling is a lot like celebrity in the sense that once logged in, we get to imagine and create a meticulously manicured representation of ourselves. In an online profile, we are the stars of our own spectacle, produced by You Pictures. But what we really want is for people to get to know the person behind the spectacles. Fashion, both good and kooky, can be used to get people to notice the real you. Once you’ve got them reeled in, you can tell them whatever your online profile might say. It’s the reeling in that’s tough.

One of the tasks of fashion is to encourage these live, interpersonal relations, to inspire random people to say to you, “Nice haircut!” or to ask ,“where did you get those great shoes?!” Because actually, maybe your shoes are really ugly, and maybe your haircut makes you look like an ass-hat. In the end, the intent of the compliment doesn’t really matter because nobody hates a compliment. And everybody knows that a good compliment can go a long way.

Here is where sunglasses and other fashion gimmicks kick in. A gimmick commands attention and makes you immediately recognizable and remembered for that trait. Everybody has a gimmick. It could be a fashion accessory, a particular style, a way of speaking, the way you walk, a haircut or even the fact that you snore.

“He snores like a garbage truck… don’t sleep with him!”

Consider this: in live concert, Madonna won’t perform until it is 85 degrees in the stadium. American Vogue Editrix Anna Wintour has had the same razor sharp bob haircut for nearly twenty years. A professor I know changes the color of his hair from blue to green and in between fast enough to keep his students coming to class. You get the idea.

For the divas and the fashion conscious, the most immediate task of the gimmick is to get noticed, especially now in our impersonalized, online profiled culture.

Ever since Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis popularized the “huge-black-sunglasses-and-scarf-over-head” look, shades have become a major fashion gimmick, a pronunciation of “fabulousness,” and a defining must-have for celebrities and celebutantes. From Jackie O. to Audrey Hepburn’s famous shot at the window of Tiffany, and from Madonna’s hot purple sunglasses in the “Hung Up” video to the picture of Avital Ronell, Professor of German and Comparative Literature at NYU, whose current faculty photo shows her reading a book wearing a clever sun hat and a pair of sunglasses (it is fabulous!). We use sunglasses and fashion as tools not only to cover up, but also to draw attention to our actual selves on the street in an attempt to transcend our profiles and ignite an actual interpersonal relationship instead of an inter-profile relationship.

Why else do people wear these glamour tools at the club, at night, in the rain, in-doors, at the dinner table? In our search for weird and designer glasses, kooky frames or a simply a pair that nobody else has, we’re really competing for eye-level attention. Let’s face it: it’s difficult to ignore a pair of outrageous sunglasses as they come in at you from 100 feet away.

So if you want to have a meaningful relationship, don’t “poke.” If you want to be noticed, change your look!

You are what you wear.


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