[The Rules of Exile] Rule No. 4: Arrange Your Face

posted in: QueensInExile | 1

Huddle up, #QueensInExile.  This one is for those of us who are still subject to court life.  If you were an actual medieval queen, think: coming back to court after exile, plotting your escape from court or getting in position to play your hand and go to war.  If you are a modern queen in suburbia, think any time there is a circle of people around a tyrant who are there due to force, obligation, familial ties.  Potentially: your in-laws, your own extended family, your extended circle of friends (not to be confused with your inner circle, the people who are actually ride or die for you), your work place, the PTA.

Were you taught as a child/teenager/young adult to be your most authentic self?  This usually includes ideas such as: doing what you love in the work place, always being completely honest, freely sharing your innermost opinions/thoughts/feelings, marrying for love everything else be damned, it doesn’t matter how much money you make as long as you are happy and other first world country memes.

I think of MamaFran and I wonder where the fuck I got these ideas.  Certainly, not from her.  Sure, she’d say that doing what you love is something you should try to do and sometimes you find yourself in untenable situations due to love but this ceaseless exhausting and incorrect optimism does not come from her.  Or anyone in my family, really.

She’s going to be unhappy that I’m sharing this, but I come not just from a family of Ferengi, but a family of thieves.  Which sounds really exciting until you learn that it’s all sugar packets, tiny milk pitchers and paper boats.  Things you are not technically supported to take but aren’t wares for sale either.   We have a code of ethics of course, but we are also a family of survivors who came here selling vegetables off the back of a truck and then moved into the always glamourous field of Social Work and then teaching.  You don’t get an education to do those kinds of occupations without some grit.  There are things you are to never do but there are also things that you sometimes do to survive and advance.

My mother’s game face for like 85% of her life is flawless.  Her mind is generally a black box where information goes in, gets processed and comes back out.  She does not like to spill out all her thoughts and feelings like a Disney Princess.  She knows that you don’t need a lot of money to be happy, but you definitely need some and more makes many aspects of life significantly easier.

For much of my life, until the bottom dropped out of the economy and I got divorced, I ignored these aspects of my upbringing.  And also, I felt ashamed of them.  What I didn’t realize during those halcyon days of being my most authentic self through copious consumerism and tequila intake, is that being taught to be scrupulously honest, sincere and open at all times is a way for your oppressors to control you.  More importantly, it stops you from being a player in The Game (of Court).  It relegates you from queenship into being one of your ladies’ ladies.

An explanation: Being a queen’s lady in waiting put you at the center of the action unless your queen is preparing for exile in which case, you jump ship to the new potential favored ruler and get in good there but you have to make the right choice because if the old ruler comes back and sees you all cozied up to the new one, it’s not good.  So even as a lady in waiting, you’re still playing The Game.  It’s sometimes even how you become Queen.  This is basically an elected position that you get based on who your family is to the current King and/or Queen in power.  If you were a lady to a Queen’s lady, you may be invited to hang in the Queens rooms sometimes if you were pretty enough or not pretty enough or smart enough or not smart enough, but you were a pawn.  In many ways, the queen’s maids were more important than you because they had more direct contact.  Going along to get along and refusal to play The Game would leave you as a lady’s lady.  Fuck that.  Get on the board.

Does this mean becoming a different person, one with a terrible code of ethics, one who dresses in a way that you despise, one that doesn’t speak for her principles?  No.  We’ve discussed this.  At length.  Besides that, I can’t speak for your most authentic self, but everyone (myself most heartily included here) who spent time in their twenties being their most authentic selves were also most authentic assholes.

Having tact, having diplomacy, having a game face, taking time to think about how you feel about something, taking time to figure out what those around you think/feel about something, knowing what to say, how to say it and when to say it doesn’t make you a bad person.  Think how you could do that in a “positive vibes” .  None of these aspects require you to throw anyone under the bus, talk shit about other people or stab someone in the back.  It requires you to be thoughtful.

If you are less scrupulous (hey girl hey!), you can think more about what you view as collateral damage that won’t keep you up at night, where your lines are to keep you from doing things to keep you up at night and what bullets you’re willing to take for others and what shots you’re willing to fire.

All of this, this thoughtful cohesive way of presenting yourself is a glamour.  It’s challenging because it doesn’t allow you to be all, “lalalalalalalala not my circus!” Bitch, almost everything is your circus.  Almost everything is a piece of information to be hidden in your hair because you don’t always know when or why you’ll need it.  Should you think like this all the time?  Holy cats, how freaking exhausting.  No.  But should you in places where you are playing The Game?  Hell yes.  Hell yes.  If The Game is in play, you should be too.

Arranging your face in places where The Game is being played means just that.  Do you need to work on your resting bitch face because everyone is judging you by it?  Fix it.  Do you need to work on looking and sounding more sympathetic in person, via phone, via text, via email?  Get it done.  Do you need to sound like you are having the greatest day ever for a piece of The Game that requires you to mimic being a Disney Princess?  Step into it and slap your tiara on.  This is glamour.


Deborah Castellano
Deborah Castellano's book Glamour Magic: The Witchcraft Revolution to Get What You Want is available for purchase through Amazon, Llewellyn and Barnes and Noble.
Her frequently updated catalogue of published work is available on Author Central.

She writes about Glamour Magic here at Charmed, I'm Sure. Her podcast appearances are available here.

Her craft shop, The Mermaid & The Crow specializes in old-world style workshop from 100% local, sustainable sources featuring tempting small batch ritual oils and hand-spun hand-dyed yarn in luxe fibers and more!

In a previous life, Deborah founded the first Neo-Victorian/Steampunk convention, SalonCon which received rave reviews from con-goers and interviews from the New York Times and MTV.

She resides in New Jersey with her husband, Jow and their cat, Max II. She has a terrible reality television habit she can't shake and likes St. Germain liquor, record players and typewriters.  


One Response

  1. I can look-and-sound sympathetic just fine. The trick is being able to keep it at “just looking and sounding” rather than, like, gaslighting myself or taking on other people’s problems.
    Boundaries are soooooo important, and they’re where I tend to fall down. 😛

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