So Kathleen has always been a bit of a paradox when it comes to her style, or even on a grander scale, her exterior manifestation of herself as she chooses to present it to the world. The photos above might lead you to believe that like many little girls she liked to envision herself as a princess or a doll or something very sweet and girly. But that sly smile gives her away. It's just a ruse.
I'd like to say this layered, aggressive, glittery, pouty stomp pose was a glimpse into her true self. But even that is simply too one-dimensional (if you can call anything about this look simple).
Now, the crazy-lady straw hat and red cape with pink jumper pants combo is sort of the closest to the truth because it is so self-created and not modeled after any one style. Or better yet, droopy onsie with a random piece of brown fabric fashioned as... oh, no that's not some headdress.. it's hair. Kathleen had very little hair, so she'd sometimes put skirts or fabric on her head to "feel what it's like." Our mom had very, very long hair, and sometimes me and Donny (her haircut was all short and 80's feathery by the time Kathleen was a toddler) but when we were baldies, we'd fan our mom's long dark frizzy 70's mane over our own heads and pretend it was ours.
Maybe that's why Kathleen's hair is always her best accessory now? It can be red or black or straight or curly or literally wild with a sentient intelligence all it's own, but it's always an extension of Kathleen. She never, ever, has a bad hair day. I'm not saying this in an enviable way. It's a fact. And it's one she has deliberately willed into being.
One thing us Thomas kids don't lack is an ability to just will (or work) our way into self-defined specialness. Kathleen by sheer willpower, and by all the means available to her as an adult (her tween self just didn't have the resources or the true courage, just the sporadic, quickly shattered kind) is declaring with every outfit or outfit post "I craft myself into a persona that is so special that I am undeniably someone you must look at. With mean glares and eye-rolls, or curiosity and sideways appraisal or sheer unblinking appreciation. Regardless, because you look, I am."
1. a coworker once actually dressed up like Kathleen for Halloween
2. I stood in line with Kathleen once when she auditioned for Top Model and she got some of the "serious" and prone-to-start-a-fist-fight auditioners seriously riled up by being so irreverent about the whole thing (but in her heart deadly serious) as she practiced her now much more developed "stomp walk" for a local news cameraman
3. Kathleen wore a flight suit to school sometimes in fifth grade
4. Kathleen wore a men's tie at picture day in sixth grade (with a side ponytail)
5. Kathleen gets heartsick if she sees something that should be on her body that is not
Last week while we were eating a whole box of gluten-free nut crackers between the two of us in our mom's kitchen (it's that vegan thing she's doing) she told me she lost three blog followers when she posted about her girl crush on Lady Gaga. Now if that's not totally appropriate, I don't know what is.
If I start to sound all thesisy or philosophical when I talk about Kathleen, it's because I think how I feel about her is the most complex of anyone I know. I have to stop myself from talking about her in conversations (which I only succeed at about 50% of the time). It's hard for me to post about her as much, because I feel like I'm talking about myself too much, but a version of myself that is maybe a little too brash, or too all-caught-up-in-it-all, but is also hilarious and unafraid, and cool to look at. And cool to eat crackers with when she's pretending to be a vegan.
Thing is? Nine times out of ten? When Kathleen pretends something... it's only a matter of time before it becomes real.