Saturday, January 28, 2023
The Kind of Girl Who … wears her obsessions on her (hot pink) sleeve

NTKOG #19: The kind of frenzied fanatic who pastes herself with inordinate amounts of swag, under the delusion that her fetish objects will bring pleasure to the world at large.

I am: girly, it must be admitted, but in more of a “chocolate fondue and, ooh, aren’t baby dinosaurs cute?!” way than a hot-pink throw pillow situation.

I am not: quite sure why so many other girls are obsessed with Hello Kitty. I mean, aside from the fact that if capitalism is our society’s religion, then Hello Kitty is its foremost prophet.

The Scene: Thrifting on a sketchy side-street of my neighborhood the other day, I noticed a woman my age (ish) exiting a store, decked head to toe in Hello Kitty paraphernalia, her face an unrippled pond of pure bliss. Perhaps there is something to it, this Hello Kitty fixation — she is, after all, so fun! so spunky! so PINK! Time to take a swig of the pink Kool-Aid — from a limited edition crystal-emblazoned Hello Kitty chalice, of course.

As I browsed, I wondered why the store — wedged in an unlikely position between a futon whole-saler and a pet shop with a front window filled with, I am reasonably sure, dead iguanas — bore the curious name “Every Little Thing.” Then I found a Hello Kitty vegetable peeler ($4.99). Hello Kitty chopsticks, iPod cords, gardening sets?! Next thing you know, they’ll be making a Hello Kitty vibrato– oh.

To get the biggest aesthetic bang for my (depressingly un-pink) buck, I settled some hair barrettes, stickers, and a five-pack of folders to chop up for homemade jewelry. Twenty minutes and some deft cutting later, I was a vision in pink: hot pink shirt, caked-on sparkling eye shadow, jaunty HK hair clips, homemade pasteboard earrings, a few charming decals, and this magnificent medallion of MC Hammer-esque stature:

Hello Kitty medallion

Hello Kitty Medallion

"omg, ur earrings r totes KAWAIIIIIIIIII!"

“omg, ur earrings r totes KAWAIIIIIIIIII!”

Time to take it to the streets.

As a girl who not infrequently wears a friggin’ meat cleaver necklace, I’m accustomed to the occasional gawk. Hell, I would have been comforted by an outright stare. Instead, as I sashayed blithely past joggers and pedestrians, catching eyes to smile with Hello Kitty-sanctioned cheeriness, my face got windburned from the constant breeze of heads snapping uncomfortably away from mine.

‘Cool it, you paranoid freak,’ I pep-talked myself. ‘You look fine! Spunky! Like a feline-friendly brunette Elle Woods!’

A quick glance in the nearest reflective surface begged to differ. The hair clips were pulling asymmetrically, tugging my bangs cock-eyed. The obviously homemade cut-up folder jewelry had an unsettling earnestness about it, like Christmas pageants at the psych ward. I subtly dropped the earrings in my bag and popped into CVS for a soda.

Cashier: You find everything okay today?
TKOG: Sure did! I wish Fresca came in pink though.
C: Why?
TKOG: Well, it’s grapefruit and everything. And I just think pink has this wonderful healing power! [fingering medallion]
C: Your necklace is. Interesting.
TKOG: Thanks! Doesn’t Hello Kitty make the world a happier place? I think if everybody just spent a few seconds every day looking at Hello Ki–
C: Your receipt’s in the bag.

It’s hard to say which is worse: that the cashier so coldly cut off my life philosophy, or that I was actually starting to believe my own chirpy pro-Kitty blathering. Continuing the walk, I paused with a grin of delight to babytalk an approaching bulldog (standard practice! I’ve never been rebuffed!), and the young owner physically placed his hand between me and the dog and scooted the thirty-pound animal in a wide berth of me on the sidewalk. Jesus. Did I accidentally put on a KKK hood this morning?

Then again, a KKK hood might have been helpful. At least it would have covered the damn barrettes.

Two blocks away from my sister’s place, my get-up finally attracted its first fan. I stood at a corner waiting for a light to change; six or seven feet away, a barefoot (presumably actually homeless) man, carrying a defunct ghettoblaster and begging for change, gnashed his arms at passers-by and growling obscenities. Equidistant between the two of us stood a prim young-ish mother escorting her five-year-old home from Hebrew school, and waiting on the same light. “Look!” cooed the child, stretching up toward my necklace. Her mom looked me up and down. And up again. Then scooted her daughter three steps closer to Obscene Beggar.

The Verdict: After a day as the warden of my own personal Hello Kitty Hell, hear me when I say: full-grown humans, please, do not air your Hello Kitty laundry in public. I mean, unless you want to look like you belong on some sort of national registry. While I think the feline has her subtle charms, and will never be opposed to a splash of hot pink, I definitely rule in the negative on making your body a canvas for your obsessions.

Although, if you’re the type of person who hates being asked to interact with other people’s children, good news! Just throw your hair in pigtails and slap on a few Hello Kitty accessories and concerned parents will flee, tots in tote. (To that end, anyone wanna buy a Hello Kitty medallion…?)

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