(Guest Post by Deborah Grey)
“Oh, why are you always dressed for a funeral,” wailed my exasperated mother as I turned up in all black for a luncheon she had put together for her friends. “That’s because she is with the League of Assassins,” my comic book obsessed brother quipped before I could answer. “I can understand if you wear an LBD for an evening party, but you wear black everywhere every day,” mom continued to complain even as I took a long hard look at myself in the mirror wondering what the fuss was all about. I mean I was wearing clean, well ironed and fashionable clothes and yet, this wasn’t the first time I had disappointed someone with my choice of attire.
Many of my friends have been “black shaming” my wardrobe for years. “Why must you dress like Satan’s bride,” a college classmate had asked me once. “For a woman named Grey, you wear an awful lot of black,” my best friend has observed more than once. The Black and Grey jokes, though still frequent, are rather stale now. “You are so slim. Why do you need to wear black when you have no flab to hide,” neighbourhood busybodies have wondered aloud revealing themselves as judgmental body-shamers who are under the impression that their validation is of value to me. IT ISN’T. Over the years, I have been called Morticia, Maleficent and even Jon Snow! Infact, when Game of Thrones was first aired, I got about 20 text messages from friends saying how I was a member of the Night’s Watch and belonged on The Wall!
I have been anchoring live events such as fashion shows, beauty pageants and awards ceremonies since I was 16 years old. I love experimenting with hair colour and though I was born with thick wavy brown hair, I have sported red waves and even different shades of blonde over the last twenty years. Wearing black helps highlight the red or the gold of my hair and adds to my ultra-glam avatar that helps me score more anchoring gigs where I invariably end up wearing an LBD. I find a little black dress to be both feminine and professional. Black seems to say, “Yes, I know I’m sexy but that doesn’t mean I’m sexually available.” Infact, an LBD teamed up with statement jewelry and an almost evil shade of red on my lips, is pretty much my signature style even today.
But my true commitment to black began about 15 years ago when I started wearing it regularly because it was convenient in my line of work as a TV journalist. I could wear different black shirts and shoot on different days, and yet when the footage was edited together the continuity of the outfit could be maintained. Also, black does not get dirty easily, so even if I got some dust on it I could just brush it off and continue shooting. As time went by, I began to appreciate everything else that wearing black offered. I realized that black absorbs light instead of reflecting it, thereby allowing me to stay focused on the job instead of worry about wrinkles or sweat patches while reporting live on TV. I wouldn’t have to worry about accidentally spilling coffee on myself or getting wet in the rain. Black stays black. This helped in my high stress job where I would often end up working round the clock with little scope for changing clothes. Black put my mind at ease and made me feel powerful and in control. Black is my idea of power dressing. Though my cameramen still call me “Ninja Chachi”!
Deborah Grey is a freelance journalist, anchor and show host with nearly 15 years of experience in television, print and web journalism.