Those big moments of Truth (Truth with a capital T) don’t only happen at the top of Mount Kilimanjaro or deep in India or Bali (remember, I tried all that).
Nope. Sometimes, a good old dinner, a weird encounter, and boom! You finally get something you hadn’t ever gotten before, even after twenty years of therapy.
So here you go – here are three big moments of Truth (what Oprah calls an “aha moment” or an epiphany) that happened to me at completely unexpected times.
This dinner had everything it needed to be as impressive as possible. Organized by a brand that will never invite me again if I say their name (actually, it’s mostly because I don’t remember), the dinner took place in New York.
And it really takes a lot to impress New Yorkers, let me tell you.
So, there we all were at the top of the thousandth floor of a building that was so new, it was still under construction. We were the first of the first to go there.
The room was beautiful and spacious, with an unobstructed 360-degree view of the city. You could hear people oohing and aahing every time the elevator doors opened.
Since I’ve never been very into getting ready for parties, I probably tried to fit my long legs and athletic shoulders into a size zero dress with absolutely no chance of it looking good on me.
And you know what? I probably wasn’t the only one.
Maybe that’s why the energy coming from the room was overflowing with a terrible feeling of insecurity.
I heard photographers getting excited. Rihanna was there. I don’t remember who else was there. Bradley Cooper? Or was that another dinner? Anyway, I sit down and Sophie Auster was sitting next to me at the table. We chat and chat and chat, the entrée arrives, we try to chat some more, our neighbors are so boring we get close to falling asleep at the table, and BLAM – at one point I’m so profoundly bored, I sigh:
“Well, this is quite lame, but we can’t complain, we’re lucky to be here, right?”
And Sophie turns to me and says:
“We can totally complain! This is the most boring dinner ever!!!”
So, moment of Truth right there, kids, I swear it was pretty profound for me. We have the right to complain. And even to get out of there if we want to.
You can have all the luxury in the world and all the dumb fashion in the world and all the proximity with all the Rihannas in the world and sometimes that’s still not enough to create an inspiring atmosphere.
The full upscale package – with the most expensive things, or the most famous people, is sometimes not only boring but it also just feels desperate. And yes, we do have the right to complain.
For me, that’s something that took a long time to understand. I felt like I’d reached the top – and deep down I felt like I’d come out of nowhere, like maybe I didn’t deserve it, etc. – and thanks to this moment (and thanks to someone who probably knew the ins and outs of that prideful milieu better than I did), I finally was able to admit that “the top” wasn’t so great after all. And I honestly found it pretty boring.
I met Kanye a very long time ago at a fashion show. He was nice, sweet, and humble. He would say hello, and if he came with friends, he’d do everything he could not to play up his stardom. He was really, honestly interested in other people. And sometimes I still run into him in LA.
[I also think the guy has done lots of good things and now someone responsible needs to take care of his mental health because he’s starting to crumble right before our eyes and the spectacle is too sad and too juicy for the press, so it seems like nothing will stop him until something truly awful happens. It makes me really sad of course because Donald Trump is benefiting from all of this, but also because I recently watched the documentaries on Avicii and Whitney Houston – fame can be violent and can take people down some very, very dark paths. ANYWAY. That was my point of view on Kanye.]
So one day, we were chatting after a show.
I think I asked Kanye who was sending him to Fashion Weeks. Most celebrities are paid to go to the shows. First class plane tickets, palaces, someone dresses them and they’re paid insane amounts to have their photo taken in the front row.
And Kanye replied – just me, no one is paying me. I pay myself. I send myself to fashion weeks. I’m really interested. I’m not here to make money.
Gah, that resonated with me so much.
It’s common in the fashion world to accept gifts with a mix of recognition and obsequiousness. A lot of people actually live off those gifts. They haven’t bought any of the things they are wearing, they don’t pay for any of the 5-star hotels they come out of, and they’d never have the means to buy their own business class ticket.
But not only do they love benefiting from the gifts, they actually expect them and end up thinking that’s what they’re owed.
They end up thinking they’re rich. I know fashion editors who spend their entire lives going from one press trip to another, basically living their lives by proxy.
I always felt a little bit uncomfortable with this idea when it came to me, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, because let’s face it: flying business class is a lot nicer than flying coach.
The problem is, of course, once you’ve been spoiled with privileges to the point you forget who you really are – a normal person with a normal salary – it’s like a drug: you’d do absolutely anything to not lose that privilege.
So then you lose all your critical thinking skills. When you’re not the one choosing what’s given to you and all you want are the trappings of a life of privilege (accompanied by the insecurity of knowing that deep down none of that really belongs to you), you end up putting up with anything just so the well doesn’t run dry.
But actually, saying no to extras when they don’t make sense, is not only the height of elegance – it’s also the only way to stay real.
And staying real is the only way to live.
So thank you Kanye, and I hope Kris Jenner will do an intervention. I feel like she’s the only one who has the maternal influence necessary to get us out of this sad show you’re starring in.
I was at another one of these dinners, alone again, but fortunately it was a few years later. I had matured and I wasn’t quite so insecure. I was wearing my own clothes, simple and comfortable, and I was curious about the party, without having any special expectations.
I had decided not to drink, and to pay attention to what I ate that night. I wanted to go to bed early, go to yoga the next morning, and feel good, basically.
IN SHORT, I WAS COOL, BUT I WAS ALSO ANNOYING.
Sitting next to me was a smiling pot of makeup as thin as a Céline clasp bag. She was probably an influencer, I thought to myself.
And across from me, a nice fashion editor, also as thin as a Céline clasp.
On the other side, but too far away for me to really chat, was another pretty girl.
So I started out talking with the influencer, telling myself it would be interesting, considering (hold on to your seats, guys) our twenty year age difference, to get her perspective on the world. She was nice and sweet.
So I say to her: “Have you seen all the celebrities here?”
She answers: “No, I don’t know any of these people. For me, celebrities are on Instagram. I don’t know anybody in movies or on TV at all. I don’t know anyone here.” (And the place was literally crawling with famous actors and musicians).
Then I say: “So, do you live in LA?”
She answers: “Yeah, I came here to give it a shot (In the influencing business?) But it’s really hard here.
I say: “Well, what do you talk about on your platforms?”
She answers: “Beauty, fashion, and empowerment.”
I say: “Ah, empowerment, that’s interesting. What’s your message?”
She answers (empty eyes, fake eyelashes batting): Um, like I said, empowerment.
Woooow, it’s going to be a long dinner, I say to myself. I try to start a few conversations, but nothing sticks. The conversation ends up on the pros and cons of a vegan diet. In other words, the most boring conversation on the face of the earth.
The first dish arrives and I realize that not only is no one drinking at my table, no one is eating either. The fashion editor is vegan, so she can only eat a few salad greens with no dressing, and as for my influencer (who has 6 million followers, since you wanted to know), she’s vegetarian and doesn’t eat dairy or sugar or – I don’t remember anymore, but basically she doesn’t eat anything except makeup.
Kind of like me that night, I guess.
SO WE ARE OFFICIALLY AT THE MOST BORING TABLE IN THE PARTY – and I’m very much aware of the parallel with my life, thank you very much.
Right next to us, four women are bursting out laughing. The alcohol is flowing, people are gobbling up their food, dessert included, glasses are being raised and so are voices. I’m praying for something to happen so I can switch seats with the influencer who is seated next to one of the fun people (our tables are pushed together) because she keeps disappearing behind her glassy smile whenever they make a dirty joke – and I’m straining as hard as I can to hear what they’re saying.
The girls at the next table are smart, nice, funny, super friendly, and I’d give all the kale in the world to be sitting with them. I realize later I’m in the presence of Tiffany Haddish and her posse – they’re absolutely hilarious and everyone should know them.
In general, I’m the fun table all by myself. When there’s fun to be had, I jump right on it without thinking twice. I drink, I eat, I laugh, I smoke, I talk too loudly and I love life. That’s me. That’s my personality. And even though sometimes I go a little too hard and I regret it, I really don’t recognize myself in the healthy, posed girl that I’m trying (and that I need) to become. But I stuck to my plan.
I appreciated the fun table and burst out laughing at their jokes when I could hear them, but I also understood the boring table and told myself those girls were there for their jobs and they totally had the right to eat and drink (or not eat or drink) whatever they wanted. And to be shy. And to be young and full of make up dreams…
So I got in my car, as clear headed as if it were the morning, since all I’d had was sparkling water. I went off into the warm LA night. I felt good, and clear about my choices.
It’s really nice. To be able to have a few nice moments with the fun table and be okay when you’re sitting at the boring table…
And realize there are times when that’s necessary – there are times when you have to agree to change, and that sometimes, those changes agree with us.
Translated by Andrea Perdue