All Dressed Up

I enjoy dressing up. Putting on lipstick and mascara. Wearing fancy earrings. Putting on a beautiful dress. A nice pair of heels. I have always loved transforming myself into a different person, with a completely different look. Whether it’s for the stage, or for a more ordinary day, the primping process has always been a joyous one for me.

When I sat down to write “All Dressed Up,” I was inspired by this image of a pair of lips being made up with lipstick. Just the lips, alone in the frame. Then a solitary eye, being primed with mascara. I saw these two images clearly, and wondered how I could work them into a film. I thought about the occasions when I dressed up. Given that I do not drink, and hardly enjoy the bar scene, I have little reason to dress up to go out. So why would this character I was thinking about dress up?

It occurred to me that I love dressing up for the sake of dressing up. Not for the sake of others. Not for the sake of appealing to anyone else, but for me alone. This idea struck a particular nerve in me. I had just returned to my hometown in California from New York for Christmas. During the holidays, I had ample time to consider the difference between New York and California.

I thought about the many differences. Yet the one that continually hit closest to home was the difference in being a woman in NYC verses the Bay Area. The difference in how I left my house every day. In my house in CA, I could get in my car, not particularly aware of being a woman. Yet here, I leave my apartment practically prepared for battle.

I wanted to address that in a short film. As I returned to New York, I became even more passionate about the idea of women dressing up for themselves. I posit that it is ok to dress up and stay at home, not for a lack of friends, but out of a personal desire. I realize that it is a statement to present my bliss, of staying home alone, as being normal. In today’s world, it is a strange picture to see a beautiful woman in a beautiful dress, staying at home. But I wanted to make it look perfectly natural.

I wanted to make a statement in testament to all of my introverted friends who enjoy staying home more than going out. I wanted to make a statement for all women saying “WE DON’T DRESS FOR YOU!” I wanted to make every single one of my friends who has been told to “Smile baby girl,” by some asshole on the street, nod their heads in understanding. Whether they choose to stay home or go out.

Obviously, I wrote “All Dressed Up,” long before the tragedy that occurred at UCSB. But given the national conversation, I feel the film is particularly apropos. It’s my own way of declaring that how I dress, is for me. What I do with my time is my decision. If I want to curl up and indulge in Crime and Punishment, I will. I can be alone and happy. I can put on a ball gown and stay at home. I can do all of this and still have friends. It’s not such a novel thought.

Sarah NewtonComment