10.1 / January & February 2015

Excerpts from Locally Made Panties

Mom Hair

It is especially important to have interesting hair after you become a mom, to combat the very real threat of Mom Hair. Mom Hair is usually short and pixie-ish, or shoulder-length and slightly curled under or flipped out at the ends. There are subtle changes in the Mom Hair look from decade to decade, but the parameters have been more or less in place since the middle of the last century.

It is vital to avoid Mom Hair. My own hair is not prone to Mom Hair, because it is so thick and curly and I don’t blow dry it or straighten it and I don’t use Product, but Mom Hair has a way of taking over, so I am ever vigilant. No Mom Hair.

After having my daughter I was so worried about Mom Hair that I tried dreadlocks, which resulted in the dreadlock fiasco, so I had to have them all cut out. The result was a short, pixie-ish haircut for the next year that looked suspiciously like Mom Hair. After having my stillborn son I decided that baby bangs were the solution to Mom Hair for the rest of my life, but by the time I got pregnant with my third, I decided that the baby bangs made my face look hard and jowly except from one side angle.

My new way of preventing Mom Hair is to stop cutting my hair shorter once I turn forty. At forty, I will begin to grow my hair longer and longer, until I am an old woman with thick gray braids looped on top of my head. That’s a good Look, I think. I sometimes think about the challenge of being an old woman with a Look.

Street Fashion

I am mostly interested in street fashion as opposed to fashion that you can get or look at in a store or in a magazine. I often think about how I would prefer to shop by ordering or choosing things off of people walking around on the street rather than by looking at In Style or going to the mall. (I hate the mall though I find it to be a necessary evil on a twice-yearly basis or so.)

This interest in street fashion once prompted me to plan a blog about street fashion in which I would feature and interview people I knew or saw and thought to have particularly good style. I wanted to feature people of all different body shapes and classes and ages, because while there are some magazines and websites and blogs about street fashion, mostly they feature very thin young women and men wearing more or less the same outfits over and over, or mostly wearing outfits that must have cost them many hundreds or thousands of dollars, and that is not something I think is sustainable or feasible or reasonable or politically wise.

I love visiting towns or cities with good style, good street fashion. I walk around thinking about how I would love to buy that woman’s boots or have a similar dye-job to that woman or combine the color of my shoes and shirt and skirt the way that woman does or push the sleeves of my cardigan right above my elbows like that woman does or how I would like that woman to show me how she does her eyeliner or tell me which lipstick shade that is and which brand it’s from and where to buy it or how I would like my body to have that woman’s breast-to-waist ratio or that woman’s biceps or that woman’s inner thigh muscles. Stuff like that. Other people’s stuff.

Locally Made Panties

When I was in Asheville I bought three pairs of locally made, handmade panties. You wouldn’t think that panties were something that would be locally made and handmade but in the case of Asheville I found several different vendors and purveyors of locally made panties. I bought two pairs of shiny locally made, handmade panties—one cream and one white—each appliqued with tiny nautical/tattoo art patches. The white pair has a swallow patch and the cream pair has a ship patch. I also bought a pair of tan and black lace locally made, handmade panties.

Keep Austin Weird

I saw a bumper sticker in Asheville that said “Keep Asheville Weird.” I agree with the sentiments of that bumper sticker, especially as it pertains to street fashion and retail establishments that sell locally made, handmade merchandise, and wanted to purchase one of these bumper stickers for my own car.

There is also one that says “Keep Austin Weird” and Austin also has good independent shopping.

Much of my interest in going to new places has to do with local retail, street fashion and shopping.

I made a resolution to buy “Keep _____ Weird” bumper stickers from all the places where I vacation and put them on my car. But when I got home and looked up how to buy “Keep _____ Weird” bumper stickers, I found out that the original makers of the “Keep Austin Weird” bumper stickers have stopped making them because they started being copied and misinterpreted and eventually trademarked by a company and made into a cottage industry and a marketing strategy and thus completely co-opted and opposed to the original radical vision of the bumper sticker makers. So now they don’t make those stickers anymore, and now I don’t want to buy them anyway.

I felt called out, like when I went to a Buddhist retreat and the first thing the rinpoche said was, “Everyone is here for the wrong reasons,” and I knew he was right, at least about me.


I am semi-ashamed of how much I use the rationale of supporting local, independent retail to justify my shopping. I have a bumper sticker that says “Buy Local.” I really do believe in that. It is a big part of my shopping philosophy. But did I need to buy a bumper sticker about it?

I like to think that style and street fashion and local merchandise and retail establishments are quality-of-life issues. For instance, I might not choose to be disconnected from a life support system if the window of my hospital room faced onto some good street fashion.

A Failing

The truth is, although Asheville, a place with good street fashion, has many natural resources—it is surrounded by one of the most waterfall-rich regions in the country—I didn’t do one damn thing in nature when I was there on a work-vacation. I didn’t go on a hike and I didn’t drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway and I didn’t buy or even look at any folk art and I didn’t stand under any waterfalls. I just worked and bought and ate local food and looked at local shops in Asheville. Mostly I shopped in Asheville. By “shopped” I mean “looked at stuff in shops.” I didn’t even buy anything other than three pairs of locally made, handmade panties, but still, much of time was spent shopping. For example, I spent far too long in a shop of vintage leather belts and vintage silver and brass and enameled belt buckles at a store that has the biggest collection of vintage belt buckles in the country and I’ve never even worn a belt or owned a belt and I do feel like this is a failing on my part. The failing is the shopping versus other cultural activities, not the lack of belt ownership.

I have many times thought about going on a volunteer vacation and building houses or working on someone’s organic farm for the summer. I have also thought how spending a summer on a volunteer vacation would probably give me pretty nice biceps which would make me look better in clothing.

Arielle Greenberg is co-author of Home/Birth: A Poemic; co-editor of three anthologies, including Gurlesque; and author of several books, including two in 2015: Slice and Locally Made Panties, from which these pieces are excerpted?. She lives in Maine, ? teaches in OSU?-Cascades’ MFA and writes a column on contemporary poetics for American Poetry Review.
10.1 / January & February 2015