Tabatha Wharton



This isn’t going to be your usual post.

See, a million years and a couple of lifetimes ago, I used to go to one of the biggest blogging conferences for women in North America, BlogHer. And in the years I attended, there was a blogger fashion show where bloggers were nominated to strut their stuff after an afternoon of pampering and primping thanks to conference-sponsored hair, makeup, and wardrobe. It was one way we could celebrate those among us who exemplified the kind of style, wit, candor, and pizzazz we admired and the women we called our friends. It was one of the highlights of the conference, after the Voices of the Year Keynote (and the parties).

I dreamed of walking that runway. Of being able to feel that confident in such a welcoming and supportive environment of my peers and my mentors and my friends. I also dreamed of having my writing worthy of a VoTY. I ended up with the very first Photo of the Year award for Selfie, so I can’t be too mad.

Unfortunately, though, the fashion show fell out of the schedule and never reappeared before BlogHer was bought out and inevitably became something else entirely, the conference now all but kaput.

So three years ago, when I was first asked to walk the local runway for the hippest little vintage and alternative consignment and boutique in downtown Dayton, I trepidatiously said yes. I spun it as a story for my local employer at the time, but a deep part of me felt like maybe, maybe I could be vindicated after all. I mean, as a former actress, ballerina, and aerialist with a love of fashion, walking a runway felt like a final threshold for me to cross. Better yet, the location of the show was the local dance club with regular drag nights, so I knew I’d be walking in the footsteps of the high heeled and glittered greats of this town.

You probably wouldn’t guess it, but I actually have pretty severe body image issues from a lifetime of projected shame and trauma and emotional abuse and just growing up femme-identified in this society. So walking a runway, being seen as worthy of wearing clothes just for the sole purpose of being seen wearing the clothes — that felt like a bridge I needed to cross in order to get to any level of self-acceptance.

That was three years, four-to-five hair colors, and 60+ lbs ago, among other things.

And now I model for fun, as a creative release and a bit of role play … though I am never mad when I get paid for it, either.

I didn’t have time on Sunday to pose in every outfit I wore in the Clash Fashion Show like I do in my driveway … plus, it was hard to catch a moment where there wasn’t someone changing behind me.

But I did grab these quick snaps in a full length mirror of the looks I walked down the runway, plus one detail shot of the dress custom made to fit me, inspired by my Festival of Delights Hanukkah pinup shoot from a couple of years ago by the same amazing seamstress who made the mermaid tail I wore in the Sirena series, Raven Bombshell. This is the first year I’ve done both my own hair and make-up and listen, that stage makeup class I took in undergrad is the dividend on that year and a half in the acting intensive program that just keeps on paying out. And this year, being a veteran of this catwalk and talking to the fresh faces and seeing people I consider good and old friends as we all play dress up together … it’s an incredibly invigorating and soul-nourishing thing.

With my schedule and life stuff, I don’t get out very much really at all. But this is one of those rare time I’m willing to move hell and high water to be a part of something so special and wonderful that has come to help me accept and love myself at all stages of life and bodily structure.

Out on that catwalk, under the lights and to the beat of the music, I’m free. I’m not heavy from the weight of school and bills and work and parenting and ex partners and internet stalkers and broken hearts and failed restarts. I’m just … me. A girl playing dress up and letting it all melt away under the colored gels and the disco ball and forgetting what it’s like to be afraid of being less in the eyes of anyone watching. Out there, I am everything I’ve ever known I could be, if given the opportunity. Out there … I finally understand what it means to love myself, even if it’s just for the amount of seconds it takes me to walk in a triangle (and not fall, at least thus far, knock on wood). I am, as I’ve heard over and over again, in my element.

I was SO fortunate this time to have friends come out to show their support, and soon I should have the professional photos from the runway and the outfit look book shoots to share in my photography part of the site (and now that the semester is literally one class and one paper away from over for a month for me … I should actually have the time to upload it all).

But for now, here’s what I wore Sunday.

And what a great outfit day it was.

Black striped sheath dress, black & white parasol, black & white bracelet, black cutout rim sunglasses, vintage blue satin button front dress, white cats eye sunglasses, crimson 3/4 sleeve beaded cocktail dress, and three tiered red beaded ball earrings: Clash Dayton
Navy, silver, and robins egg blue winter floral pattern retro swing dress, silver crinoline, silver opera gloves, and silver Lucite evening bag: Raven Bombshell
Black back-seamed sheers: Spanx
Black velvet lace-front thigh-high stiletto boots: Mia
Black suede hidden platform pumps: Jessica Simpson
Red satin ankle-strap stilettos: Nordstrom Rack
Lipstick: KVD Everlasting Love Liquid in Outlaw & Everlastying Glimmer Veil in Dazzle