It was just last week that I was riding the train in a red and black striped bodysuit and high waisted jeans. Drake's "In my Feelings" was blasting in my earbuds.
There I was with a huge curly lacefront that I had anxiously waited to be delivered so that I could throw it on my head and instantly feel fabulous, despite the fact that the city was just coming off a week-long heat wave.
As I told my Instagram followers, "I'm gonna be hot as hell anyway. Might as well look like Tracee Ellis Ross while doing so."
Only in that moment, the impeccably dressed Black Girls Rock host wasn't my muse. In that moment, the only person that came to mind was Angel Evangelista, one of the leading characters of the show Pose played by Indya Moore. In that moment, Angel made me feel like the most fabulous person on the Market Frankford line, if not the entire city. You couldn't tell me I wasn't on the way to an exclusive bar in NYC to close a million-dollar book deal over Old Fashioneds, and not to my 9-5 at a non-profit.
If you're a fan of the groundbreaking show Pose on FX, you'll know it's about more than sexual orientation or gender identity. It's about family, friends, as well as finding and defining yourself and living life on your own terms. In addition to learning about 80's ballroom culture, and witnessing some fierce fashion in plenty of extravagant ball scenes, the cast of Pose are all grasping the reins of their lives in their own way.
They do so by being fearless and owning their femininity in a way the truly expresses how differently we all present our authentic selves, whether we're rocking huge gold bamboo earrings or big curly hair, don't care.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the cast includes the "largest number of transgender actors in series regular roles for a scripted series." The characters are all larger than life, but not in a To Wong Fu kind of way that makes you want to crack jokes. Their characters represent themselves in a way where you hope you can join them for karaoke and finally become one of the cool kids. You realize when the ball competitions are over, they go home and cry over the guy that never called and have to figure out which bills they can afford to pay late just like the rest of us.
Whether you're anxiously awaiting to binge from the very beginning, or you're hesitant to watch because you assume the show is all about drag queens or the devastation of HIV in the 80's, let me reassure that there is a lesson in the show for us all no matter how we identify or who we love.
Here are lessons we can learn from Pose about living your absolute best life in ways Lil' Duval couldn't begin to imagine:
1. A Closed Mouth Doesn’t Get Fed, No Matter How Fierce It Is
Whether Blanca (played by MJ Rodriguez) is marching into The New School For Dance demanding an audition for her son Damon, or challenging her rivals to a competition that many might not think her tribe has a chance winning, she's a bold example that nothing in life that's worth having will be handed to you. If you know Blanca, you know she rarely asks permission, but what I love about her character is that she's proof of what can happen when you face challenges head on, even if you don't feel the most prepared or confident.
She shows us that you'll fail, you'll be embarrassed, people will laugh at you, and make fun of you, but as long as you have your family and friends to come home to, you won't fall the hell apart. In fact, those are the very people who will give you the courage to get back out there, adjust your damn wig, and try again.
2. There's Always An Opportunity To Be Fabulous
Of all the characters, I believe Angel Evangelista and Elektra Extravagance display this lesson the best. In my favorite episode "Giving Is Receiving," Angel literally looks like she should be sitting on top of someone's Douglas Fir with tinsel draped across her French Vanilla calves. Homegirl is rocking a baby pink boa, a white trench coat, thigh-high white patent leather boots, and hot pink stiletto nails. In a world of Ugg Boots and PINK sweatpants, my girl Angel could easily have her ass on stage at Rockefeller Center giving Mariah Carey a run for her money, and she's only about to trim a damn tree in that scene.
None of the characters are inherently wealthy, but they turn what they have into opulence and show us that "fabulous" is about more than perfectly placed eyelashes or a contour from the MUA Gods.
Fabulous is all about how you feel.
More importantly, they encourage us to make the most of out every moment, whether you're sleeping on a park bench, or you're already halfway to accomplishing your dreams. If you want to use all five of your Urban Decay Naked Palettes to sit in the house and play Jenga, just make sure you take the time to perfect that liquid liner. You never need a reason to feel or look fabulous AF.
3. How Others Value You Doesn’t Determine Your Worth
People that identify as LGBTQ are no strangers to the disrespect and intolerance that can come as a result of them just trying to live their lives from those that aren't familiar with their community.
We all throw shade from time to time, and during our worst days, we attempt to destroy our worst enemies lives one Instagram comment at a time. What matters most is that we eventually return to our authentic selves and give out the love and respect that we may not always receive. Over the season, we've witnessed Blanca's biological family basically disown her. The mean girls of the ball world have picked apart everything from her fashion choices to feminine hygiene. Throughout it all, she focuses her fight on building a better life for her children.
While so many mistakenly assume that people who identify LGBTQ are trying to find themselves, so many of these characters are already quite familiar with who they are. Even when they aren't being applauded or stacking trophies and titles, they still bring the best parts of themselves to life everyday. But don't get it twisted: If you catch them at the right moment, you WILL get your feelings hurt.
4. It’s Better To Choose Yourself Over A Man, Than Lose Yourself Under One
The first season of this show drops so many gems on love. We witness Angel fall in love with a man whose world is filled with briefcases, suburban single homes, and soccer moms. Elektra finds herself choosing between loving what she sees in the mirror and being in love. In the end, all of the women end up choosing themselves and show us that people can truly love us and support us financially, emotionally, and mentally, but real happiness will always remain a solo effort.
We all have a tendency to bring our baggage, flaws, and insecurities into a new relationship, but anyone who is asking you to abandon what makes you feel complete and whole outside of their company, isn't someone whose company you should keep for long.
5. The Family That Slays Together, Stays Together
More than gender-reassignment surgery or same sex relationships, at the heart of Pose is a story about family. The show's theme emphasizes the idea that family is about more than shared DNA or last names.
It's about people who don't give up on each other. It's about the people who show up (and show out) and fight for us even when they are dealing with their own battles. There are times when my four-year-old is trying to stick a Q-tip in the dog's nose and I question if I even still want to be her mother, and here we have a character like Blanca who is trying to rescue Papi from street life, picking up the pieces of Angel's broken heart and at the damn dance school almost more than her son helping him stay on pointe...literally and figuratively.
The most fabulous thing about Pose are the bonds that are formed and endured..and of course, Blanca's statement leather jackets that are giving me all kinds of 80's Salt and Pepa life.