I've been asked numerous times over the last several years, "Why do you wear that tiara and boa?" I often vary my answer depending on mood and context, and all the answers I give are valid because the reasons are many.
Over time, I've learned that the reasons people ask are many as well, and in some cases, people seem to be waiting to see what I say before they make a final decision about what they think of my accessories. That's fine. I appreciate that my choice of adornment hits people in different ways so I expect the myriad of reactions. In general, however, they have been overwhelmingly positive.
My First Time
Here is the backstory to when and why I adopted this "look."
I was given my first "official" boa at BlogHer years ago and swiped a pink tiara from my then 3-year-old's dressup trunk and brought them to Blissdom two years ago when I co-presented with Maya Bisineer of MemeTales. We taught a Wisdom Workshop for women about finding one's voice. Both Maya and I stood in front of a room full of women telling our stories, some difficult and painful ones, putting ourselves out there and encouraging other women to be in touch with their life stories.
My premise for the workshop was that each of us has powerful life stories, experiences that give us a wisdom that we don't give ourselves credit for, and by telling our stories to others - other women especially - we empower ourselves and empower others. I could almost hear women cringing inside with the on-the-spot writing assignments I was giving but when women began to share their stories, the energy was off the charts.
In honor of one woman really digging deep and being vulnerable and strong in front of us all, we adorned her with a tiara and boa and honored her courage. (Footnote: She told me recently that it was that experience that gave her the seeds of strength to leave an abusive husband. I am humbled by the power of what we were all able to do for her and what she was able to do for herself.)
As I left the workshop, I started to remove the tiara and boa, but as I exited the session room, people turned and smiled in my direction. It put me in a great mood so I kept both of them on the rest of the conference. When I was preparing for the next conference that year, I purchased a new metal and bead boa so my daughter could have hers back and promptly tucked it into my suitcase (it was conveniently bendable) along with a boa.
Before I put them on at the next conference (I think it was Web 2.0 Expo - a decidedly non-female event), I was terrified. "What are you THINKING?!" that little voice of self-doubt demanded. But then I shut that negative voice out and went out in full regalia. The response was fantastic and positive. I decided that I'd wear them at every conference and create a sort of trademark look for myself.
I've realized over the last few years that the naysayers are probably people who I don't want to do business with and probably don't actually want to know. They aren't "my kind of people." I don't need stuck-in-the-mud fuddy duddies or uptight types in my work or life - life is too short to worry about them. Don't get me wrong - I honor the fact that everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but frankly, I don't need someone telling me what is right or wrong for me or to criticize what I do when it is so positive on so many levels - and not just for me. How, you ask? Let me explain further...
Why I Do It
1. It makes people smile.
2. It starts conversations with interesting people.
3. It is easy to find me in a crowd.
4. It gets people out of their shell.
5. It makes me feel bold and in the moment.
6. It generates excitement and papparazi moments.
7. It helps me show other women that it is okay to draw attention to oneself in a fun way.
8. It helps me show other women that we don't have to be so serious (or like men) to get taken seriously by men. (Just today, I had a number of men say "Now THAT is smart. I had no trouble finding you in a crowd." Then we proceeded to have conversations about high tech and business.
9. It gives others permission to be silly.
10. It opens doors, literally and figuratively.
Again, not everyone likes my tiara and boa, but you know what? That's their problem, not mine. And for every stuck-in-the-mud potential client I lose because they don't like my getup, I get many more fantastically adventurous and bold clients who are fun to work with - not to mention new friends who are a blast to be with - so I'm not worried.
If I make 1 person frown while making 100s of people smile with my faux royalty wear, I think I'm doing okay. Don't underestimate the power of a tiara and boa. And if you don't like it, you can always mind your own business, right?