NROP: Lady in Red.

My grandfather died when I was 10 years old. It was expected of me to wear black as a sign of mourning whenever I could, which meant acquiring new wardrobe pieces that were more black than any other color. Now, I wonder if that was what triggered my liking of black clothing.

The second part of mourning was not having fun. Well, yes, I exaggerate. I was not to attend any dances for an entire year. The ‘discotheques’ my school hosted for kids between the age of 10 and 13 were pretty decent. And there was one happening almost every month (outside of Lent). Nothing happened during those dances (take your mind out of the gutter), but everything happened during them (social life). We would constantly be under the watchful eyes of teachers and once you left, you were unable to come back inside. The DJ played our favorite songs and we would lose ourselves dancing and singing (i.e. shouting). If your throat (or ears) needed a break, you would go to the locker-room. That was where you would discuss whom you wanted to dance with next or how your previous dance went (Did your partner smell nice? Did they step on your toes? Did you try and talk? What about? Did she lay her face on your shoulder?/ Did you lay your face on his shoulder? etc).

That was how some relationship started. You went to the dances to listen to some good music but also to socialize. The following day, at school, everyone would be talking about who danced with whom, who was asked to dance the most, if Nick was going to finally ask Blanca to be his girlfriend, etc. It seemed that if you missed one of those events, you were behind on all the current events. All you could do was listen to the conversations without chiming in. It was like window-shopping – frustrating. For an entire year, I had to rely on my friends to fill me in on what happened during those dances and learn about inside jokes after they were birthed.

Did dressing in black help the mourning process? I guess, in a way, it did remind me of the death of my grandpa. However, I do not see how staying home instead of going to the dances helped anyone. It is not like I prayed for the soul of my grandfather while home. I do not think me dancing and laughing would be disrespectful, especially because my grandpa was a very fun-loving person.

As a grown-up, I treat mourning differently. It is all about the state of mind and not actions meant “for show.” To me, it is about what is in my head and heart and not the facade everyone who passes me on the street gets to see. I found out first hand that most people do not know how to act around a person in mourning. Some will walk on eggshells all the time while others will totally act as if nothing happened. Why punish others with something you yourself are struggling with?

Where am I going with this? Apparently, one California resident decided that the world (or her life) does not stop due to fires and now she is public enemy number one. A female blogger posted a photo of herself in an orange dress on a beach to commemorate her last day in San Francisco (she was moving to Los Angeles). Behind her, smoldering sky is seen. Want to see the infamous images? Check out Colette LeClair’s Instagram.

Colette LeClair’s Instagram.

In the current description, she mentions how she loves the city, the beach, and taking photos. She also adds that she was not taking the dress with her to LA and that it was up for grabs. My research revealed that the original post was slightly different – it was an ad for the dress. Still, you would think it is a pretty benign post/ photo. However, as I mentioned in some of my previous posts – there will always be someone who finds an issue where there is none. Caroline Moss, who is said to be “an author,” called the photo post insensitive. Caroline went on Twitter and, inspired by Colette’s photo, said that “WE LIVE IN HELL.” Because people try to sell a dress? For one reason or another, that Tweet was deleted and the account deactivated.

To me, that ties in to my mourning introduction. We live in difficult times. The pandemic has changed all of our lives. Now, imagine struggling with a natural disaster on top of it (or anything else, really). It is not fun. The struggle is real and it bogs us down little by little. Is it terrible that California is burning? Of course! People are dying and many others are losing their livelihood. Those affected might not have the time to dress up, go to the beach, and snap photos. But, that does not mean that everyone on the planet should stop and mourn. Of course I feel bad for those affected but that does not mean that I will not try to earn my living. It just so happens that Colette gets paid by posting photos on Instagram and selling clothes. Supposedly, she is donating money to help stop the fires/ help the victims.

Would it be better if she posted her photos against a different backdrop? Would it make a difference? What is really the problem? The ashen sky, the orange dress, the fact that the photo was taken in California, or that there are fires burning somewhere in the world and people are suffering? I am not really sure what we are focusing on anymore.

I take these photos at face value. I see a girl. In a dress. On a beach. Would I consider buying that dress? No. OK, then it is time to move on to a different topic. Would YOU consider buying it? If so, would it matter to you that the photo was taken in California where fires are burning? Why/ why not?

Is orange the new black?

Stay golden,

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33 thoughts on “NROP: Lady in Red.

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  1. I was in my early teenage years when my grandmother died. My mum announced she was going to wear black for an entire year and also not do anything fun. I could see how she expected the same from me, but I have only seen my grandmother twice in my life.
    It was a confusing time for me.

    Don’t the usually make people in court also look a certain way to gain empathy.
    Prettier than average but also worried and vulnerable.
    If you act well, you might even get through it.

    When going to the doctor I also consider carefully to express myself. Because they already think I am overreacting, I want to look like I am genuinely mentally tortured.
    Even though at that moment I do feel fine and feel like doing my hair and make up.

    I never wore colorful clothing. And though “we can all be ourselves”, the comments about my clothing style are simply exhausting. I feel like I constantly have to defend myself.
    I think you a thing or two about that 😉

    I think the dress is butt ugly and I would never in a million years wear it.
    It’s a bit like the cultural innapropriation topic.
    She is using a sad occasion to her own benefit.
    As for the donation of the money…. I guess she kind of have to now with all these sensitive people in the world.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good point. People dress a certain way in various situations to get others to act the way they want them to act. Your court example is spot on. I hate fake people but they seem to be the norm.

      Yes. Going to the doctor can be a great acting class. How many drinks do you have per week? Ummm… sometimes 0. Sometimes more than I want to admit. So I compromise and say 1. LOL

      It just gets so boring. You do something, you get flack for it, you apologize, you donate some money and everyone moves on (or not).


  2. I woke up this morning to another smoke-filled sky and reminded myself to be grateful that I wasn’t actually in the fire zone. Then I got on with doing things, although I have removed “open the windows” from the list of morning chores. I don’t, however, expect people in PEI to keep their windows closed in solidarity. A brief thought and move on. We don’t have to hair shirt every single disaster. We’d not have the time or space to do anything else.

    The dress is quite beautiful. I didn’t fully read the caption but if it’s not high-fashion, it’s a decent knock-off. It’s also a beautiful photo. Tragedy can make good art. And capitalizing on that, or anything, is the name of the modern game, I believe.

    I liked your description of the habits of grief and mourning that your family embraced. I have none, really. I have had very little in the way of family death – small numbers. It reminded me of the formal mourning referenced in the Victorian-set novels I have a mild affection for. I think, in many ways, these traditions are better than the dearth so many of us experience. Although you are absolutely right about the pivotal social importance of the high school dance.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. “We’d not have the time or space to do anything else.” So sad, but absolutely true.

      There are definitely those who argue it was an attempt to capitalize while others claim it was innocent. As far as I am concerned, if she’s not harming others with her capitalization, then – what’s the harm?

      You made me ponder a different view. It’s not like people are born with the skill to grieve in a proper way. Many struggle trying to figure out how to deal and cope. Maybe those old-school mourning “rituals” are meant to guide us in situations in which we might otherwise be lost?

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s interesting to me how mourning and grieving are not really the same thing. I have to explain this to people sometimes, including Grandkids. It’s okay to have fun and enjoy life and still be sad about Grandma dying. Grandma loved you and would be happy to know you can have fun.
    As to the dress, I say big deal. If that’s the biggest thing in life somebody has to complain about then they must be doing okay. So what if it’s good or bad taste.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You make a valid point.

      Precisely. With COVID-19 happening, I thought that people might wake up and reprioritize things. I didn’t have too much faith, but I had a tiny glimmer of it. As per usual – people freaked out, changed their ways for a minute, and then went back to their previous lives. Quite sad.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Haven’t been outside for four days due to hazardous air quality. I’m afraid the dizziness I’m feeling is due to depleted the O2 levels in our apartment. Asphyxiation inside or out.

    Would have been a better photo-op with it lit on fire, her running down the beach, turning to throw herself into the sea.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Goldie, I love your attitude… why punish others with something you are struggling with… of course sometimes we need help and need to reach out, but you are right that when it comes to grief, people don’t know how to react and tend to be overly sympathetic or ignore it, I’m not sure which is worse.

    What is happening in California is frightening; as frightening as 100’s of things happening all over the world, including people starving because COVID has killed their economy, or the increase in domestic violence, or the lack of equality and increased discrimination faced by many of our fellow humans… that photo will have no impact on those things, it won’t make them worse….and just might put a smile on someones face because its lovely. And we all need to smile.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I can’t handle overly sympathetic. I just don’t know what to do with it. But when I actually was faced with people who completely ignore it, I was stunned. It made me feel like I was in the Twilight Zone.

      You’ve said it so well – it will not make the matters worse but it might distract someone for a moment, which might be crucial in these-already troubling-times.

      Good to hear from you!


  6. Orange is definitely the new black…
    It’s like we live in world where everyone is at a quarter to being triggered by someone so as much as breathing in your direction… Of course if it is offensive cant we talk civilly about it and then going up to social media and rounding up our friends so we can all be outraged collectively…

    PS I actually rather like the photo, wouldn’t buy the dress but thats because it would clash with my wardrobe I prefer my muted greys and blacks and in none dress cuts lol.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. We are in an era where there has to be a problem with everything. If you’re mourning too much, then that’s a problem. If you move on too fast, then you’re a selfish person.
    I do empathize with whatever bad is happening all around but when I look at this post by Colette, all I see is how stunning the picture has come out to be. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Everyone should be able to grieve in their own way. When I worked in a hospital, I wondered at times why nurses would laugh and talk about the weekend when they had just responded to a patient coding (passing on) It took a while but I finally got it. They saw death every day, so they focused on life.

    If the woman made a living and enjoyed posting photos of clothes in wildfire areas, why not continue? (when possible) Being forced to leave was her pain. Posting in the hot zone gave her power back.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes. a hospital is one of those places that you might not understand until you get to experience it yourself. I don’t want to say that people get desensitized to pain and death while working there, but in a way, they have to. Imagine if they took in every pain and death to heart. They would be too broken too quickly. They need to detach to do their job well. It does not mean that they don’t care.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Your comments on grief resonated pretty strongly with me. After losing my father, my experience was similar: some people could talk about nothing else, while others pretended it never happened. Very few seemed to understand that every grieving person needs both space to mourn and freedom to find enjoyment in even the simplest things. Without both, there is no road to healing.

    Likewise, I think you are right about this photo incident. Anyone facing the reality of the fires in CA is probably losing something. And just as it’s not fair to impose expectations of formal mourning on someone who needs some emotional refreshment, it’s not fair to insist that everyone in CA respond to the fires with uniform outward sorrow (can we call this “sorrow signaling?”). We cannot judge people facing loss for choosing to embrace whatever sources of levity or relief they can find.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I remember hosting a gathering of friends the day Reagan was shot. As I was at our gate marking the address for those who hadn’t been to our house before, someone slowed down their car and made a nasty remark about having a party when the President had been shot. I wasn’t sure how our gathering was going to affect whether or not he was going to survive, although my guests were Christians, and I remember praying, and he did survive.
    “I do not think me dancing and laughing would be disrespectful, especially because my grandpa was a very fun-loving person.” I hope when I have gone to my happiest place that my loved ones are not unduly saddened, but glad for me, knowing that I am waiting for them in that place, where we’ll have the best party ever!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s a great example with your party. It’s not like the purpose of your party was to rejoice in Reagan’s shooting.

      And that’s the thing – I remember my grandpa very fondly. I wish he was around for a variety of reasons. So yes, I am sad that he isn’t. But, as Christians, shouldn’t we be comforted by what is to come at the end of times?

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Wouldn’t buy the dress, as it’s not my style. Too… Frilly, not to mention completely impractical.

    As for mourning, that’s never been a burden I’ve had to carry. I sometimes worry I don’t care enough anyway… I probably am one of those people that would ignore someone else’s mourning. I can’t do anything about it, and anything I might say wouldn’t feel like enough… so, why bother? I expect that’s how I might react to being in mourning myself as well; I’d escape behind an overdose of logic.

    And being so attached to my philosophy of apathy, I have to wonder why anyone even cares about this woman and her photo… It’s not as if it actually affects anything, or anyone (excepting, perhaps, those who choose to involve themselves — but that’s their choice).

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Impractical? Don’t you have some ball to attend in the near future?

      Logic is what I think helps me mourn. It helps me cope and keeps me from going crazy.

      RIGHT? Maybe it’s time you got an Instagram account and raised some hell?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. What is a ball, if not for dancing? And could you imagine dancing in that dress? I can trip over my feet just fine on my own, thank you.

        Raising some hell does sound fun… But, that would be in direct violation of my afore mentioned philosophy, no?

        Liked by 2 people

  12. I think the reason why people look beyond the product she tried to sell was because they wanted to also give the SELLER a seal of approval too. If I were to be interested in the dress, I’d also want to be cognitively happy to support the seller… In this case… she clearly fails in the “sensitivity” to others (e.g. victims, etc.) by not making an effort to find a quieter background charged with less… worldwide issues… especially if she’s not doing it to get people to donate, or act, or whatever. That’s probably why people probably see this so differently… Then again, people can also scroll by and ignore instead of creating more problems… Oh well hahaha Great post! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

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Cathleen Townsend

Faerie Tales and Fantasy Worlds


writing science-fiction and fantasy since tomorrow

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