I was attending a midnight showing of Rocky Horror Picture Show at a local theater, but was about an hour early. Midnight showings are meant to be wild, crazy, and sexy, with everyone having fun, so in the spirit of the show I had dressed up as “Columbia” from the “floor show” sequence of the film (it’s common for people to dress as characters). The outfit was very revealing, but I was wearing additional clothing while waiting in the lobby with some friends. However, I had lots of face paint on because the character wears clown-like face paint during the scene.
I saw a flash to the side of me, and turned to see some girls, aged about 9, taking photos of me without my consent and giggling. They had accidentally left the flash on, and acted shocked and embarrassed when I glared at them but soon resumed taking photos of me, laughing and making comments like “what a freak” purposely just loud enough for me to hear. I have some social anxiety, and at this point I was devastated and depressed. I felt like a big idiot. I wanted to curl up under the table.
Soon, two adult women came over to the girls, who pointed me out and gleefully told them how weird I was. The women scolded the girls and told
them to leave me be, because “if her momma lets her go out in public like that, let her do it.” May I add that I am an adult, and my “momma” does not dictate how I dress. But I did appreciate them telling the girls they were wrong.
The women began to approach me. I thought they would apologize on behalf of the girls, but instead one of them said coldly to me “You know, they’re just kids. Okay?”
I was shocked but I managed to say “Uh…I know…” She repeated, “Kids. They’re just little kids, okay?” Then she gave me a look that confirmed she, too, thought I was a product of Satan, and marched away with the kids in tow, still giggling and pointing their phones at me. No apology. She had the nerve to insinuate that I had been the rude one! I haven’t been back to see the show at that theater again. I can’t bring myself to. 0425-15
For those unfamiliar with Rocky Horror Picture Show characters, this is what “Columbia” looks like.
Two of my daughters dress up in full costumed regalia for the premieres of movies like the Pirates of the Caribbean series and the Lord of The Rings/Hobbit movies so this custom is not unfamiliar to me. It’s loads of fun and movie premieres can be highly anticipated events in our family primarily for the opportunity to show off costumes that have required months of preparation. My daughter’s dwarf costume complete with realistic beard and craft foam “leather” armor was pretty amazing.
However, there is an unspoken understanding that wearing costumes in public places most certainly does attract attention. The vast majority of it is positive or at least neutral. My daughters have been asked to pose with theater patrons, particularly children, for photographs because people perceive them as being a live interpretation of what they have or about to see. It just adds to the fun for everyone. Are there the occasional curmudgeons who whisper under their breath about how stupid it is to wear a costume? Yep, there sure are…and who gives a flying flip what they think?
You permitted a few 9-year old girls to steal your joy. Two total strangers who haven’t yet celebrated a double digit birthday had such enormous power over you that they changed your entire attitude and mood and altered your future behavior. At Ehell.com, we really discourage the unfortunate practice of giving other people considerable power to affect our thoughts and actions negatively. A polite spine also includes the ability to simply not care what the rude riff raff of the world thinks or says about us.
When you glared at the girls, all you did was send the very clear message that you can be manipulated to react poorly and that you have lost control of the situation to a pack of little girls. I would never give anyone that kind of information about myself so that they have a power advantage over me. The beauty of etiquette is that it gives us a framework of behavior so that we retain control of ourselves and often of the situation itself. You could have completely ignored the girls since their opinions of your costume and make-up is totally irrelevant to you due to the fact that they are strangers who you have never seen before and will likely never see again. The gutsy Ehell way of doing things would have been to stride right up to the girls with a happy smile on your face, introduce yourself as follows, “Hi, “I’m costumed as ‘Columbia’ from the movie ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show’ playing in about an hour. She’s a pretty cool character in the movie, are you familiar with her? Would you like a photo with me? ” If they decline, giggling, you confidently stride back to your waiting friends waving, “Good bye, enjoy the rest of your night!” Doing so sets the atmosphere for the situation to be a positive one with you clearly in control of yourself, the situation and you come off looking powerful and gracious. Win-win all around for everyone.