In early July, Olivia texted me (Emily) something that I didn’t expect:
Immediately I thought: this is going to be GREAT for BKTX.
At first, I was really surprised: was Olivia going through some kind of identity crisis? Her normal look — red lipstick, cat eye, ’50s style waist-defined dresses — is adorable and looks great on her, but it is the opposite of punk. Much more Kate Spade than Vivienne Westwood. She quickly assured me that she was fine, she was just really, really bored:
The way I draw, the way I dress, it’s all so “cute” and I’m so tired of it. It’s safe. I want to push myself to be bolder… I want to be badass, hardcore, cool, dirty, rough, sexy, edgy and just not give a fuck about anything and be a little more punk about things. Not cute!
This has never been a problem for me. I normally keep my hair in its crazy curly natural state, I end up looking kind of rock n’ roll even when I don’t want to. In high school, even when I wore my daintiest, girliest dresses, my friends told me I looked like Robert Plant (though sometimes they said I looked like Lestat from Interview with a Vampire. Thanks Amanda and Cameron.) In light of this, I challenged her to a crash punk rock diet to try adding some edge to her life.
This was my original list:
Only listen to punk music (really, OG, ’70s punk music) for a day. Bonus points for not wearing headphones and forcing everyone around you to listen.
Cut up an old t shirt, add some safety pins, wear it. Bonus points: wear something with spikes, grommets, or other hardware too.
Black lipstick. Bonus points: black eyeshadow, too.
For one day, do everything you fucking feel like doing. Deprive yourself of nothing. Bonus points: don’t do a single thing that you DON’T feel like doing
Olivia was super excited and added a ton of other challenges for herself:
- For every beer that I drink — I will take a shot of whiskey.
I will not make anything cute.
Break something and/or vandalize something
And then, the list sat there. For three months…
Live for free
Spend no money
And then, the list sat there. For three months.
Each week I came up with some sort of excuse for us to not work on this post, all the way until mid-September. I was so concerned with understanding what it means to be "punk" and how to do the challenge without cheapening it that I started to forget what the whole purpose actually was: to have a little fun trying something new. Every time I thought about starting it, I kept thinking about why I wanted to do this at all. It didn't seem like a fun and playful challenge — it was really overwhelming!
Finally, the night before we decided the blog post would be due, Olivia came home and decided to be punk. She destroyed a t-shirt and loved it. Black eyeliner gave her a sassy attitude, which only became more pronounced when she got wasted on PBR chased with shots of whiskey. She decided to break a dinner plate on purpose...but chickened out.
But it still wasn’t right. Olivia found herself researching punk music and punk clothing, and overall working really hard to do punk “right” — the hardest part was writing about doing what she felt like doing and not apologizing for it.
I felt like I struggled with a lot of the challenges. It still was really hard to think about why I wanted to be harder core at all, and while some things, like bad ass makeup and cut up t-shirts, were really fun, but I failed when it came to my punk attitude. I felt like I was playing dress up, which was fun, but it was basically the same idea on the inside: I was doing it in a cute way, and I was being a perfectionist about it. It wasn’t messy or edgy or bold in the way that this whole diet was supposed to be about.
Olivia decided to try again go an entire day, at work, on the punk diet:
I did what I wanted (closed the windows when I was cold!) instead of asking my coworkers what they wanted, I did not responding to angry emails, I left when I felt like it, but I still didn’t feel like I was being very punk… and about halfway through the day I realized that was because I was still trying to “be punk,” instead of just unapologetically doing the shit I wanted to do the way I want to do it. Who cares if it looks “cute” or “punk,” it was supposed to be about doing whatever the fuck I felt like and not caring about what it should be or what it looked like! So, I ordered tacos, ate them on the floor, took a bath, and called it a day, feeling more punk rock than any amount of PBR + whiskey shots, hardcore eyeliner, or screaming ever could.
Thanks to our friend Ian for the raging playlist!