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Arts and Entertainment Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014 5 years ago

Factory Girl: Coming out ... as a posh freak

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by: Zara Barrie

Okay, lovelies, I want you to close your pretty eyes. Let’s imagine a typical young, creative, artistic 22-34 year-old American. Oh, you know the type: a liberal-arts-degree graduate with a job at a hip graphic-design firm who plays drums in a band on the weekend. On any given Thursday night, they can be spotted drinking boxed red wine out of a paper cup whilst dutifully supporting a friend’s art opening (something super-innovative, complete with installations and performance art).

They’re a specific breed of hipster that reside in “up-and-coming” neighborhoods made up of half low-income housing and half bearded, tattooed 21-year-olds fresh out of $50,000-per-year art school.  They’re the bright artists of the new millennium, who hang out in an intimidating wolf pack, a collective of unkempt waifs sporting über-cool outfits made up of shredded skinny jeans and torn vintage t-shirts.  Together, they gather in ironic, unpretentious dive bars that serve awesomely cheap beer and have a retro jukebox nestled in the corner.  These hip young things would never set foot in a swanky hotel bar — those places for are for the suits; the dreaded rich people; the unimaginative conformists!

So what is to be done when one happens to be a 22-34-year-old creative free-thinker with a full-time job exclusively in the arts, but happens to prefer sipping champagne at a chic rooftop terrace bar to drinking locally crafted beer at the alternative dive?

You could do what I did for 20-something years and shamefully hide your true taste and tell everyone your brand new Marc Jacobs dress is actually a vintage find purchased at a thrift shop outside of San Francisco. You could pretend to like the taste of beer and suffer in those skinny jeans while you dream of McQueen.

Or, you could come out as a loud and proud POSH FREAK. Yes, girl, it’s totally okay to lust for over-the-top luxury and simultaneously exist as a total creative weirdo. In fact, it’s the Factory Girl way.

I’ve recently come out … as posh (I was “outed” as a “freak” in early childhood). Being posh is a trait I kept hidden from my fellow artists for a long time. In the art world, there tends to be lot of shame about being posh; it’s as if the moment someone catches you ordering a Sauvignon Blanc instead of Pabst Blue Ribbon, you’ve lost your artistic integrity. Or, when in a weak moment, you confess you prefer Manhattan to Brooklyn, and suddenly you’re deemed a yuppy sheep (I spent a miserable winter pretending to love living in Brooklyn while secretly longing for Upper Manhattan). The whole notion that one can’t exist in both the posh and the creative worlds is stupid and hypocritical. If the art community is so open-minded, why can’t they accept the fact that I’m a passionate artist who is also currently coveting Diane Von Furstenberg bedding?

It’s absolute bull that in order to be taken seriously as an artist one has to modify her taste to conform to the confines of the creative community (confine and art is an oxymoronic word pairing, anyway). I mean, yeah, food trucks are fantastic — I love them as much as the next guy, but sometimes I want to treat myself to fine Kobe beef and impeccable service. Is that so terrible?  Does that make my work less authentic?

Being both posh AND a freak can feel painfully alienating. When I venture to the high-end bar, I’m instantly bombarded with weird looks from the crowd.  Regardless of what designer I’m wearing, my clothes are a little too edgy. My personality is a little too quirky. I feel like a weird novelty on display: “Oh, look it’s outrageous Zara with those crazy shoes. Take a picture, show the kids!”

The moment I throw up my hands and head to the art bar, I feel equally unaccepted. “Why are you, like, wearing a wedding dress?” scoffed a chain-smoking, string bean of a girl clad in scuffed black denim cigarette pants and beat-up Converse during my last outing. In this environment, I start to become anxious with overwhelming feelings of being overdressed, judged and certain I will end up single forever (for the record, I was NOT wearing a wedding dress; I was wearing a Bohemian cutout maxi that just happened to be white. I actually thought I looked pretty damn casual in my summery, loose-fitted sundress and cork sandals).

So what’s a “posh freak” to do?  Step one: COME OUT. Be WHO YOU ARE, whatever that may be (it can change day to day!). Reclaim the pressing labels of “posh” and “freak” and JUST OWN IT. I’ve been in and out of the closet, and let me tell you, it’s much better to feel alienated than is to feel like fraud. It’s impossible to produce good, honest art when you’re stifling who you are. Nothing will kill your spirit quite like betraying your authentic self.

The best part is, once you come out as posh freak, other posh freaks will come out of woodwork and invite you into their eclectic tribe! It may take time, but I promise we’re out there, and we’re having way more fun than anyone else.

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Factory Girl Tip:  When in doubt, go to your local gay bar. No one will embrace a “posh freak” more than the LGBTQ+ community. It doesn’t matter which way you swing, the LGTBQ+ welcomes all walks of life and especially loves a contradiction!  

featured photo by Thiago Gadelha

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