Despite my advanced years, I only recently realized that I love kitsch. I'm not saying my taste has changed; I'm saying I'm just now aware that what I like IS kitsch. I was that kid who loved to have all of the pre-fab things with my name on them. I had the little license plate for my bike. I had "This book belongs to Wendy" stickers. I thought that stuff was "neat" even though I knew it wasn't "cool."
I've never been cool. During my formative years I wanted to be cool, but looking back I accept that I didn't want it badly enough. Being cool requires effort, and I just didn't care enough. You have to pay attention to what's going on in fashion and music and gaming and cars and accessories. I was too busy trying to hide the fact that I am a geek, through and through. I was a gymnast and thought that would make me cool; it didn't. It just made me stronger and more muscular than other girls my age. I was a cheerleader; certainly that would make me cool. It didn't. I was more visible than some, but putting on a short skirt and bulky sweater so I could cheer on the home team didn't change who I was inside. I liked having a label maker, Tiger Beat covers taped to my bedroom wall, and random furniture.
After I attended the California Women's Conference about a month ago, I had an "aha" moment about my affinity for kitsch. I went with a friend and colleague who is young, successful and just a total knockout. She's also very self-assured, "in the know" about fashion and trends, and just oozes cool with every fiber of her being. We grabbed all of the free swag available in the exhibition hall without really looking at it, and then each of us (apparently) reviewed what we had when we got home. There was a keychain from one of the vendors. It has charms on it like you'd expect to see on a bracelet, including a high heeled shoe, a purse, a key and a heart. I thought it was so cute I added it to my very blase cluster of keys. My companion? Not so much. I can't remember her exact words but it was something like cheap or ugly. We also got a little business card holder that has a pink faux-leather cover. I love it and immediately emptied my very professional but very boring card holder and replaced it with my new fun pink one. My companion? She wondered why on earth this well-known vendor would give out something so stupid. Don't get me wrong; she was not being mean or criticizing me. She did not know I liked either of those things because I did not tell her; she was just sharing her thoughts about the swag. In fact, I think she would feel bad if she knew I thought those things were cute.
My home is full of kitsch, though I'm happy to say it's not too over the top. I have those collage-style picture frames and I'm not ashamed to admit it. I hang my children's artwork on the walls with tape. My kids' rooms have matchy-matchy linens and furniture. Most of my Christmas ornaments are homemade. Nothing in my house is coordinated except my couches. My furniture is cheap and shows signs of use. An interior designer would probably faint upon entering my home. But you know what? These things make me comfortable.
I love kitsch. Don't you judge me.