I’m assembling my thoughts on Anna Sui’s Gossip Girl-inspired clothing line for Target. Since I might bitch about synergy, normalizing skinny, gendered body types for young consumers, and the great malling of America at some point in that post, I thought I’d post a wonderful alternative to these at-this-point rote grievances by highlighting Gossip’s “Dimestore Diamond,” a new song off their soon-to-be-released Songs For Men. You can listen to it here (oh, and should you choose to click on the NPR link, maybe say hi to Lightning Bolt, Dead Man’s Bones, Thao Nguyen and the Get Down Stay Down, La Loup, and BlakRoc).
In this very sexy, rocking song that does a great job bridging the band’s bluesy origins with its more recent new wave leanings, a woman (who may or may not be engaged in the world’s oldest profession) is praised for her ability to maximize the fashionable potential out of thrift store togs, cut her own hair, and make her own clothes. Who says you have to rely on high-end fashion or commercial retailers to put together a fly outfit? Here here!
Also, given that “everybody knows” the things this diamond does to please, I can’t help but wonder if she lives in a small town. Perhaps I’m projecting Searcy, Arkansas — the band’s hometown origins — onto the song, but it’s hard for me not to read the song’s narrative as being informed by issues of class and place. This brings a few things to mind for me.
1. In a Bust interview, lead singer Beth Ditto talks about growing up a working class, closeted Southern girl and how, if she hadn’t left her hometown, she may have stayed in the closet, gotten pregnant, gotten married, and lived a lie.
2. As a tangent, Ditto’s interview also makes me think about Kurt from Glee, FOX’s new dramedy that is starting to get really good. In last night’s episode, Kurt finds himself as a place kicker for his school’s football team, as well as coming out to his butch, widowed father — all because of the power of Beyoncé (and man, talk about a text that plays with lip syncing, dis/embodiment, trying on identities, and drag — put your hands up, Winona Ryder). These are two brave acts from a young man who (at least for now) finds himself stuck in Lima, Ohio.
3. And finally, taking points 1 and 2 together, I wanna give a hug to all the closeted kids I knew in high school who didn’t feel safe with who they really were then (and maybe some still don’t). I hope wherever you are, you’re shining like the real thing.