Confidence… and a lack thereof.

Howdy all!

First off- I am self-flagellating for being so darn remiss at posting. I’m not entirely sure why I haven’t been, since I’m unemployed, and not really doing very much. I guess it’s down to motivation and confidence, which is what I want to talk about in this post. But first, since it’s my blog and I can do whatever the hell I want, here’s my latest favourite tune.

Now that that’s done, I wanted to talk about motivation, confidence, and queerness.

I was out for a walk on Dun Laoighre Pier the other night with my GF, and we got to chatting about self image, fitness, confidence, and lots of other topics. Had  a few friendly debates, disagreements… the usual. But one thing we did agree on is that I am notoriously bad at noticing when a girl is interested in me, or flirting with me.

No, really. My GF was lying in bed with me playing footsie before we got together and I actually asked her if her feet were cold.

So yeah. That’s what you’re up against trying to chat me up, if you ever wanted to!

I was thinking how bad at dating I would be if I ended up single- I would literally have no clue if I was being flirted with. None. Nada. And I don’t know how people go up and just ask people for numbers or whatever. Maybe that’s my Irishness coming through, but it doesn’t seem to be done here. ESPECIALLY in the lesbian community. I seem to know a lot of lesbians who would shudder at the thought of asking a girl out.

Why is that? Is it so ingrained in us that ‘the guy’ does the asking, so if it’s two girls, well…

If there is a ‘butch one’, do we have to do the asking? What if- like me- the thoughts of someone finding you remotely attractive is just an alien concept? It’s not like I think I’m a minger or anything but it seems… a bit bigheaded to think “hey, I think she fancies me”. (That is probably by Irishness coming out there for sure. You’re quickly stopped from having notions of that kind when you’re Irish!)

This confidence, and lack of it sometimes, is a big factor for me in how I style myself, and how I move through the world. Like I said earlier, I’m currently unemployed and finding it really tough to get work- Ireland is not a fun place to be right now as an academic researcher in disability! So most days I don’t leave the house for fear of spending money I don’t have, and consequently I don’t dress any sharper than jeans and a tee shirt. Which bums me out.

So, my question to all of you who have stuck through this rambling post- how do you guys sustain your confidence? Does the way you present as butch/ femme/ whatever have a part to play? Is a lack of confidence in the queer community a thing you have noticed, or is it a non-issue?

Oh, and by the way, do come check me out of Twitter- I am a lot more regular there than I am here! (@DapperZo)

Love is in the air…

Ah, that time of year… the time of year where my pockets are completely empty thanks to Christmas, New Years, my girlfriends birthday (this year was 30 you guys!!!), our anniversary AND Valentines Day. And did I mention this year I’m unemployed?

I like this guy. He’s dapper AND broke. Possibly from buying hat shining equipment, who knows?

So anyway. On top of the usual madness that accompanies this time of year, this anniversary was our 10th. TENTH! I’m still in shock that we’ve been together 10 years, I mean that’s just about 1/3 of my life! To celebrate, we went for dinner in a rather lovely place (The Rustic Stone, in Dublin, if anyone’s interested…) and then on to watch the ever fabulous and gorgeous Panti Bliss in action. You might have heard of her?

While we were there (in our pre-booked front row seats!) I was invited up on stage, to play Pictionary with the glorious Panti. Now, I suck at Pictionary, so I didn’t win BUT I did get a hug, and she sat on my knee TWICE so I feel like the real winner. I also got to announce that it was our 10 year anniversary, and after the performances finished, a great number of people came up to us and congratulated us, which was just lovely. I hadn’t really thought about it being such a big deal, being 10 years together. I mean, I love her, and she loves me, so of course we stayed together. But listening to people tell us it was “an inspiration” to see a couple happily together after 10 years made me realise- this is a heck of an achievement! And one that kinda flies in the face of the “gay people can’t commit” and “they’re not real relationships” arguments.

So you know what, I thought, let’s have a think about how we managed it. We’ve managed to get past multiple long distance stints (the China- Dublin time difference is no laughing matter, people!), being completely broke students, battling depression, cancer scares, coming out to our families… and more besides! And of course it being the run up to Valentines Day… what better timing than to share some “pearls of wisdom*” that might help? Some you’ll recognise, some  might surprise you…

(*NB: these pearls of wisdom are not pearls. They’re mostly really f*cking obvious rocks which in all fairness you should have well copped onto by a few years in. But hey, it takes some of us a while to catch on…)

1) TALK.

You guys, I can’t stress this enough. If you can’t talk to the person you’re with, well… it won’t end well. If you’re scared to talk about something that’s bothering you, it’s not a good sign. Nerves are fine. Waiting for an appropriate time is fine (pro tip: grocery shopping is not an appropriate time to talk about a recent fantasy you had, even if the cucumbers make you remember it). Being a bit scared you’ll say something dumb is ok- I don’t know anyone who hasn’t had a horrible conversation with a loved one that made you cringe so hard you pulled a muscle. And if you’re REALLY not good at bringing up awkward topics, create a code for it. If you know you’re about to bring up something serious or a bit out of left field, preface it with a pre-arranged “safe word”. Like BDSM but for feelings. It takes the sting out.

“So when I say kumquat, it means we’re gonna talk about boobies. That cool?”

2) Dislike each other

Now, I know, I know. If you were to believe half the crap out there, you’d think stuff like “Learn to love each others faults”. I call bullsh*t. Nobody can like someone ALL the time. I don’t even like MYSELF all the time! There is no way in hell I’m ever going to love all my girlfriends faults. Snoring like a dumper truck? Leaving half empty Coke cans all over the place? A seeming unending obsession with Pinterest? No. But I have learned that some things will never change, and I better just deal with it. Just like she has to deal with my bizarre habit of collecting hair pomade like I’ll never be able to get more ever again. Or my skill at stealing 90% of the bed cover EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT. And there are times when you just have to say “you know what? You’re really irritating me right now. I’m going to go for a coffee outside because if I look at you much longer today I might smother you in your sleep tonight”. Weirdly, it’s not personal.

3) Find out what romance ACTUALLY means to the other person.

For a good few years, I used to randomly turn up with flowers. And jewellery. And make mix-tapes. (well, CD’s if we’re being pedantic!). And I thought that was what romance was. Doing the stuff that Hugh Grant or someone would do, because that’s what I thought romance was. Until I actually asked her what was romantic. Turns out, playing Guitar Hero and letting her win was romantic. Turns out, I didn’t need to buy flowers, but I could buy her craft supplies and spend an evening painting shot glasses. And I know I find it romantic as hell when she drives me out to the beach, because she knows I need air. And when she bundles herself up in a massive coat to come on a walk even though she’d much rather be drinking coffee in Starbucks. Don’t assume you need to buy everything pink and heart shaped to show someone you love them.

4) Laugh

Because seriously, laughing is sexy and real. Especially if you can laugh in bed. Maybe because you fell over doing a striptease? (Not that that ever happened to me, mind…)

5) Move in together twice.

Ok, this one is a bit weird, I grant you. But hear me out. We moved in together about 4 years in to our relationship- and in many ways it was a bit of a disaster. We were relatively young, I had some major family concerns… there were just a lot of things happening. So once our lease was up after 1 year, we moved out, separately. We stayed together as a couple, and I honestly think it helped us understand the types of people we are. We have since moved back in together again and we know what we need now. Time together, time apart, out own space and we know what we have to do to make life a bit easier for the other person. I think often women (and I do think many females are like this) want to rush in, head first. There’s a reason the lesbian U-Haul joke exists!

Pic from Love And Cake

 

I don’t see the reason to rush things- if you’re going to stay together, you will be able to without living together at the beginning. What’s waiting a year or two in the grand scheme of things?

I could go on and on and on, but that’d just be me loving the sound of my own voice. Do any of you have any tips? Anything I’ve written that you reckon is complete rubbish? Let me know in the comments!!!

Stay dapper, and in love with someone (especially yourself!).

The Real Cost of Homophobia

Hello to all my readers.

As I said in a previous post, I want this blog to be about more than style, or fashion. I want to make it about real life.

Recently, my Irish readers might have heard about a controversy surrounding RTE (the Irish national broadcaster), a Dublin businessman (and drag artist known as Panti) called Rory O’Neill and various commentators from the more conservative side of Irish life- namely John Waters, Breda O’Brien and The Iona Institute. I will let my readers catch up on the controversy themselves, but I wanted to publish a letter I recently sent to RTE, and to a number of Irish national newspapers. I have no belief that anywhere will print it, or even answer it, but I am so incensed about the entire thing, I had to write something.

Dear Sir,

I am primarily writing this to the complaints department in RTE, however I feel it necessary to include a number of other media outlets, to maximise the possibility of my story being heard. I think it’s important for you, and others across Ireland, to understand the real consequences of RTE’s handling of the Rory O’Neill/ John Waters/ Iona Institute story.

For many years now I have listened to the lies being pedalled by John Waters and the Iona Institute- and mark my words, they are LIES. They are lies about me, my personal life, my habits, my morals, my friendships, my relationship and my intentions. Oh, not by name. You see, I’m a lesbian. I am in my 30′s, I’m well educated, I work hard, I have paid my share of taxes, I have never broken the law. I volunteer my time with disability groups, I give money where I can to those who might need it, and I have a wonderful relationship which I have maintained for 10 years. I would LOVE to get married some day, yet according to John Waters ‘difference of opinion’, I only want to do that because I “want to destroy the institution of marriage because (I’m) envious of it”. That is a lie. And yet, apparently it’s ok for him to not only hold that opinion, but to publish it, to be given a microphone for it, to give it legitimacy in the public domain. And if someone was to call him out on it, then he gets to be protected.

I’m also one of those lesbians that everyone can tell is a lesbian. I don’t fade into the background, I don’t ‘blend in’. I can’t ‘pass’ for straight. I have no desire to, most of the time. I say most of the time, because there are times that I wish I didn’t look so darn gay. Those are the times that I get yelled at in the street. When I’m called a “f*cking dyke” by passers-by. When I get asked to leave the ladies toilets because I apparently don’t look like a woman. When mothers with children give me suspicious looks, like I’m going to suddenly try and ‘indoctrinate’ their daughter. Probably the worst I’d do is pull a funny face to make them smile. Comments like John Waters being given legitimacy means that people feel fine doing those things. Hey, if respected people in the media can say things like that, why can’t I?

So, he (and the Iona Institute et al) lying about me and others like me by saying we’d make unfit parents, that we want to make a mockery of marriage, that wanting to be equal in the eyes of the law is somehow us ‘getting above our station’, is fine. Obviously, since RTE apologised and have granted damages to those people after Rory O’Neills correct assertions on the Saturday Night Show.

John Waters IS homophobic. So is The Iona Institute. There’s really no two ways about it. Homophobia does not just mean being ‘afraid’ of gay people. It encompasses intolerance, a lack of respect, feelings of superiority. I think we can all see that given Waters (et al) comments on the subject, he IS homophobic. But by all means, apologise to him. Apologise to him for creating that “debate” you say is so important- so long as it’s not a debate that might get some ‘important’ people like him upset.

But so long as you’re apologising, try apologising to the thousands of gay people who are actively discriminated against here in jobs and housing every day because of who they fall in love with. Try apologising to ME because the comments written and condoned in the media allows people to think it’s ok to yell obscenities at me in the street. And hey, I’m lucky. I’ve never been beaten up or KILLED because of who I love, but there are hundreds of people who are, every year. Try apologising to them, RTE.

Updates!!!

Goodness, it’s been a while, eh? Sorry about that. :D

For those of you who have been following my blog for a while, you’ll know I was working on my 2nd masters thesis, and I recently got word that I passed! So I’m just getting ready to hand in the fully book-bound copy to my college library and that’s IT! DONE!!!

So now hopefully I’ll get back to updating a bit more frequently. I do update twitter a fair bit with things that take my fancy, so if you’re not following me, check it out! My handle (is that the word? Or is that super old fashioned 90′s-speak now?) is @DapperZo.

I’ve now OFFICIALLY had a few requests to do a styling video, so that’s next on the list. Luckily, I got a fresh cut today from the lovely (as always!) folks at The Waldorf Barbershop in Dublin, so now’s the time, eh? Next week I head to Germany for a week on a holiday (during which I hope to make it to a GAY CHRISTMAS MARKET!!!) and so I’m hoping to check out a few pomade/ retro shops that have been recommended to me. I really want to get my hands on some Bone Crusher!

So until I manage to organise myself to do a feckin’ video- stay dapper folks!!!

Light pomades

Pomade basics… 102!

Howdy folks! How are we doing today? Having a good day? Good hair day?

Right, so my last post focussed on the basics of pomades, and the difference between water-based and wax based pomades. You can read up on that here. I figure the next stop on this introductory trail is the difference in holds, and the types of hair they’re best for. Because all of us have different hair, and it’s important for you guys to know the different types of pomades and what the different ingredients do when styling. Also, I have a specific type of hair, so what works in my hair won’t work in someone else’s…

( Most of this post will reference wax-based pomades, rather than water-based. I don’t use WB very much, because I personally have trouble styling with them- they fight my hair and it ends up not looking half as smooth as with wax based. Having said that, I’ve just found a fantastic WB that allows me to do just that. More on that later…)

First of all, my hair type… I have fine, Irish hair. I have a fair amount of it, which always lead me to believe I had thick hair, but I don’t. My hair itself is fine, which means that I can’t use the same products as someone with thick, curly hair. My hair used to be really curly, but as I’ve gotten older it’s started to straighten. Now, it’s more a gentle wave, if anything. Which can cause it’s own problems, and dictates how my hair styles, but that’s another issue! But I’m quite lucky in the pomade world. I can use lots of stuff and get good results- some better than others. When it comes to classifying pomades and figuring which ones to get, I tend to sort by hold. You have light, medium and heavy. Recently I’ve noticed a bunch of homebrewers making ‘super heavies’ but I haven’t tried any yet, and probably won’t! And this classification is purely MY classification- some of what I call mediums are labelled as ‘light’ by the makers, etc. So be aware of that when thinking about what kinds of pomades to try out!

Light pomade:

Ok, so let’s start with the light pomades. These tend to have petroleum or petrolatum as their top ingredient, and as a consequence are light and greasy, usually. They are usually very shiny, easy to apply, and don’t offer that much hold, although they do have enough for me to comb a modest pomp or keep an executive contour in line. If you have thick hair, forget about it. Some of the lights that I have in my arsenal and daily rotation are Dixie Peach, Murrays Hair-Glo, Dax Super Neat and Tres Flores

 

Light pomades

 

Lots of people use light pomades as ‘toppers’, which means as a top coat to add shine and scent to a heavier holding pomade. Because as you go ‘up’ in hold, traditionally you go ‘down’ in shine. This is because petrolatum gives shine, but doesn’t really give hold. That comes from wax, which doesn’t really have much shine. 

Medium pomade:

Mediums are just that… the middle ground between hold and shine. They tend to have a higher wax content than light pomades, and will have a decent amount of sheen. People with thicker hair might get away with using mediums on their own, but may need to move into the heavier pomade arena. Mediums are my go-to’s for full on styling. My favourite pomades are mediums. For high shine mediums I go for Sweet Georgia Brown (Blue), Murrays Super Light and Dax Neat Waves. Otherwise, some of my favourites are Green Fairy, Pompage, Bees Knees and Dax Green and Gold

mediums

 

Heavy pomade:

Heavy pomade is something I don’t have the best knowledge of- just being honest! I have used a few and they’ve just been too heavy for my fine hair. I don’t even have hot weather to worry about with light and mediums (heat can compromise the hold) to make me try them. I have tried a few, and while I can tell some of them have been great, they just didn’t work for me. The wax content in heavies are usually high, and often mix different types of waxes (beeswax, microcrystalline, soy). Of the heavies I’ve tried, I’d recommend Pompking and Dax Wave and Groom. I wish I could have a medium with the smell of Dax Wave and Groom, it reminds me of my childhood, someone in my family must have used it!!!

heavy

I reckon that’s enough to be getting on with. As always, if anyone has any questions, ask away, I’ll do my best to answer them. Next time I’ll probably go into styling and using pomade to get different results…

Stay dapper, peeps!

 

Pomades

Pomade basics 101.

Pomade. A small word, with lots of myths and mythology around it. In this post, I’m going to try break it all down into bitesize chunks, from my experience of using it and trying out different types for the last year. Now, I’ll be honest with you guys- I LOVE pomade. I love styling with it, experimenting with it, trying new ones, classics, different shines, different smells. At last count I had over 40 different types.

Pomades

My pomade collection a few months ago. It’s about triple this size now…

Yeah, FORTY. My girlfriend hates me. :p

Anyway, here are some things about pomade that you might have been wondering about- sometimes the pomade and vintage world can be a hard one to crack into, information-wise. While I love all the pomade and pomapadour appreciation groups out there, they are overwhelmingly dominated by guys, and so for some people that could be intimidating, or a bit nerve-wracking. Fear not! I’m here to answer questions. So if you have any that aren’t included in this post, PLEASE leave a message or email me. I’m lovely, I swear!!!

1) What exactly IS pomade????

Ok, so let’s get basic. According to Wikipedia (who of course we can totally trust!) pomade is;

 is a greasy and waxy substance that is used to style hair.

Pretty simple, right? Well, not really once you get into it. There are actually a couple of different types of pomade, depending on their ability to wash out. You could simplify this into ‘water-based pomade’ and ‘wax/ petroleum- based pomade’. Traditionally, all pomades were wax/ petro based, and made the hair slick and shiny.

Pomades really started to take off in the early 20th century; many of the big names like Murrays (1925), Black & White (1922), Royal Crown (1936), and Sweet Georgia Brown (late 1920′s) are still around and making pomade the same way today. So there’s history to it, which I personally really love.

2) Ok, so what’s the difference in pomade types? 

Well, as I said you have water-based, and wax/ petro based pomades, and while they both have the word ‘pomade’ in the title, that’s pretty much where to similarity ends. Now, before we go any further, I have to warn you that many guys in the pomade appreciation world get their knickers in a twist about water-based pomades, claiming them to be gel, and not pomade, and only for pansies, yadda yada yadda. BORING. I say fire ahead with whatever suits your lifestyle and hair best. But, I might as well let you know my opinions. Lucky you.

Wax based pomade doesn’t wash out. Water-based does. That’s the main crux of the issue. But there are other issues, and here you go:

Wax pomades (from now on I’m just going to call them pomade, and water-based will be abbreviated to WB. I can’t be arsed typing everything out…) have a list of ingredients like beeswax, petroleum, coconut oil, olive oil, almond oil, fragrance etc. Main ingredient will be wax or petroleum, depending on the product, and the hold etc. For example this is the full ingredient list of one of my favourite pomades, Bees Knees: 

Raw Lanolin
Beeswax
Tea Tree oil
Peppermint oil
Eucalyptus oil

Pic of Bees Knees pomade (c/o The Dapper Society)

In contrast, WB pomades have some serious chemicals in them- like Layrite (one of the most popular and widely available WB pomades), whose ingredients are;

Water (Aqua), Cetereth-25, PEG-7 Glyceryl Cocoate, Propylene Glycol, Polysorbate-20, PEG-7 Hydrogenated Caster Oil, PEG-8 Methicone, DMDM Hydantoin, Methylparaben, Fragrance (Parfum), Red4 (CI 14700) Yellow 5 (CI 19140).

Layrite original (from Layrite.com)

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like the idea of putting that many chemicals into my hair and onto my scalp on the regular. If I can’t pronounce it, I dunno if I want to rub it on me.

3) So if you can’t wash pomade out, isn’t that… gross?

Maybe. If you don’t ever let water or shampoo near your head. I wash my hair every day, I just don’t wash the pomade out. I know that might sound odd, and I know when I first started I found the idea weird too. How can your hair be clean if it always has product in it? Truth is most of us wash our hair WAY more than we should. It’s pretty much self cleaning. Washing with shampoo strips all the natural good stuff of our scalp. Rinsing your hair every day, and washing with shampoo every third or so day is one of the best ways to keep hair healthy.

It does take getting used to, and it’s not for everyone. But personally I’ve found my hair to be in far better condition since I started using pomades and washing my hair less. And I have ZERO dandruff. Most pomades I use have great essential oils in them like teatree, peppermint, jojoba… My barber even comments on the condition of my hair now. Plus I save a ton of money, because rather than have to use shampoo and conditioner and product every day, I use far less than I used to. And I save time- most mornings all I need to do is rinse my hair, put a small bit more product in (to replace what has come out overnight and in the shower) and comb my hair. Done in about 3 minutes. Whereas if I were to wash and shampoo and restyle from scratch every day… yeah, way longer.

But everyone has their limit. I know guys who don’t “degrease” for 2 or 3 weeks. Personally, I can’t go more than about 3 days without needing to completely cleanse my hair of all product. I just don’t like how my scalp feels (even though I do rinse it every day) and my hair is pretty fine, so build up for me isn’t great- it starts to weigh my hair down and it’s not good. I also know of people whose partners have a fit at the state of greasy pillows and ruined pillowcases- pomade does rub off at night!

4) I heard using pomade makes your hair fall out. 

Pomade doesn’t make your hair fall out. Improper care of your scalp can do that. And because you comb your hair a lot when you style with pomade, the hairs that naturally fall out during a day can come out all at once, making it look like chunks of hair are coming out. Yes, leaving petroleum and wax on your scalp for long periods without letting your scalp breathe can cause oxygen to stop getting to your pores, which causes problems like spots. But like I said above, if you do it right, this doesn’t occur. I usually have one day a week where I use no product or a light WB product to let my scalp breathe. I’ve been using pomades every day for a year now and if anything my hair is thicker and fuller than before!

5) But… how do you use pomade?

I wish someone had been available to answer this question for me a year ago! I had no clue what I was doing, ended up buying the completely wrong product and freaking out because my hair looked terrible and I had no idea how to fix it. My next post is going to be about how to choose the right pomade for you, but for now I’ll say this; pomade needs to go IN your hair. Not on top. You need to apply it right down to the roots, not just let it sit on top. You use your hands to apply it, a comb or brush to work it through, and a comb to style. Do it right and it’ll stay where you put it all day.  I will also make a few videos to go with my posts, but right now I’ve been sick in bed for a week and I am in no fit state to show myself off to the world!!!

So I hope this post has helped a few people with some questions that they were curious about. I am a huge fan of the slick, sharp styles that can be created pretty easily using pomade, and I’ve seen a few butches and dapper so-and-so’s that have everything down except the hair, which is a shame. The sheer number of products is astounding, and there are almost as many ways to style as there are people! So it can be a bit daunting to someone coming into this arena for the first time. If you guys have questions or comments, I’d LOVE to hear them. As always, you can follow me here, or on Twitter, Facebook and soon, Pinterest. (I do have a personal account but I need to set up one for my blog I reckon!!!)

‘Til next time, stay dapper!