My last three blog posts have been super intense discussions of faith so its about time to take a little break and chat fabulosity.
Defining things can be such a drag. I don’t really want to wrangle in the word fabulosity, a word that is very obviously not a word, a word that is frolicking around, delighting in its non-wordness. I first heard this word in college, during a time in my life when I was wearing a lot of animal print on purpose. My college years were unique because I attended a small women’s college isolated in the Blue Ridge Mountains: this is a story for another time, and yet its worth mentioning so that when I admit to wearing too much animal print in college, you don’t cut-and-paste me into a slimy frat house in your imagination. No, instead I was exploring my own fabulosity in the company of women, in a land where it was quite necessary to be smart and interesting.
But truly my education in fabulosity began before college, among the matriarchs of my family. For a time we had five living generations of women: family get togethers were exhausting. That diva gene just don’t quit! Given that fabulosity has been an ongoing theme in my life, this silly word is by now crammed full of definitions, stories and images. Defining it in a sleek way seems impossible. Still, I feel that I ought to at least try to arrive at some sort of definition. I wouldn’t want fabulosity to be relegated to only the most predictable (glittery) things.
To define the word fabulosity I could throw more words at you, words like character, glamour, strength, steadiness, boldness, elegance, vitality, magnetism, certainty. But I would rather create an annoyingly incomplete Fabulosity List à la Buzzfeed. This list is in no way comprehensive, duh. It’s a handful of the first things that come to mind when I think fabulosity. Some of these are old loves, some are brand new fascinations. So without further ado, what defines fabulosity?
1. Arguably the entire cast (and set) of the 1958 film Gigi. Why does no one I know have a room this red for me to lounge around in? GiGi is the ideal present to give yourself on a rainy (or otherwise gloomy) day. Played by Leslie Caron, GiGi’s authenticity and ability to be direct with the adults attempting to design her life was a major inspiration to me growing up.
2. Kristin Lavransdatter (along with literary heroines in general). I recently completed this elevendy-billion page series by Sigrid Undset, which was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1928. I adored Kristin’s quiet strength and savored the descriptions of her sun-worn beauty and lioness mothering style. Since reading Kristin, I’ve felt inspired to revisit some of my fave literary heroines: Pippi, Anne Shirley, Elizabeth Bennet. These characters all prove that knowing yourself is a prerequisite for fabulosity. And of course, the authors who wrote these literary gems into existence deserve praise for being visionaries in their own time. Below is the author Sigrid Undset herself. What a dame.
3. Audrey Hepburn, well-known for her style and beauty, is sadly less known for her humanitarian efforts. Audrey began her humanitarian work in 1954 with radio presentations but by 1988 she was dedicating the remainder of her life to field missions in impoverished nations. World travel suited her because she was fluent in a variety of languages. Audrey truly was the whole package: she could have easily relied on her stunning looks to coast through life. Instead she worked hard for others, embodying the virtue of charity. She was giving, loving, and kind.
4. Myself, in this photo from 1987 where it is unclear whether I am a little boy or girl, but certain that I am a badass. I think that in general, we can look to babies as living examples of chillness. Babies just know how to hang. They get stuffed into costumes, passed around from person to person, wiped, buckled, brushed. Then they smile. I guess I use the word chill too much on this blog, but its swiftly becoming one of my core values. Fabulosity just does not translate when its hindered by nerves: the ability to be with yourself is essential.
5. Beyoncé. Y’all can hate. But I would be remiss to not include the woman whose songs made me do a drunken split on the dance floor at Mom Prom. Her queenliness is undeniable and her vacations with Jay Z make me wish I could create elaborate family photo albums in which I glue my face and Tim’s face over the Knowles-Carter duo and pretend that we Clarksons go to Cuba on our anniversary, looking smashing with our cigars and braids, or go to basketball games without our children or lounge around on yachts without our makeup on.
6. Mexican painter Frida Kahlo. Her intensity is unmatched. Just try to look that smug with a unibrow, just TRY.
7. The guy I saw at the beach yesterday, who chose to sunbathe at a great distance from the water, on the very footpath every other beach-goer was taking to get down to the water. This speedo-wearing gentleman had all four of his limbs spread out: he looked like a hairy, beer-bellied sea star. Based on his neatly arranged towel and hydration set up, I am fully confident that he did this on purpose and not as a result of too much day drinking, and furthermore I would hypothesize that he made this bold choice because he just wanted to test the limits of his own fabulosity. A willingness to push the envelope seems to be a consistent fabulosity factor. I am so deeply bereaved that I don’t have a photo to share with you.
8. Saint Teresa of Ávila: obviously this one is current to my fascination with Catholicism, but really this 16th century Spanish mystic is rad no matter who you are or what you believe. Teresa was sassy, quick-witted, and remarkably human. She had gusto, joie de vivre. (If you are interested, I particularly enjoy Mirabai Starr’s translations of her work.)
9. Meryl Fucking Streep. I don’t even know what else needs to be said here. Actually, the breadth of Meryl’s talent is only recently sinking in for me. I guess I just took it for granted for too long, like I take for granted that the sky is blue or that the sun is shining. Without the sun I would die. Without Meryl, I might die.
10. Aretha Franklin. I could watch Aretha play Dr. Feelgood live again and again. Wet with the sweat of a real performer, she addresses her audience in that lovely, graceful speaking voice, then sings with that signature rawness. Only a person truly aligned with their own unique gift has the ability to make that kind of power look easy and natural.