My birthday falls just three days before Halloween, so cute costumes plus scary stuff are pretty much synonymous with my growing up. But as much as I begged to be a witch or "something dead" for the night, my mother always trussed me up in something pretty.
I was a "bride" one year. The next we dyed that white lace dress a bright yellow, I slapped on a pair of over-size glasses and was "a movie star." I also shimmied down dark streets as "a flapper" (not Pocahontas as one mom guessed) and "a hula girl." Always pretty.
Why couldn't I be a ubiquitous monster like most of the other girls? A ghoul? Something gross? My mother would simply shake her head when I pointed toward a wort-laden mask and steer me toward something girly. And I never got it.
That is, until I hit the puberty mark in the relay race to self realization and discovered that little black girls don't always get to play pretty. In fact they're usually relegated to the not-so-ugly step sister role. Just ask the moms who pinched themselves when Disney finally introduced Princess Tiana, a brown skinned beauty with smarts.
Or better yet, watch HBO's "True Blood," the Vampires in the City story of a sweet and innocent blonde fairy named Sookie Stackhouse and her broken trail of non-human hangers on. For four seasons Tara Thornton, the angry black woman to Sookie's southern dumb belle, has played the role of the unpretty protector. As one of the show's lone humans, her razor edge reasoning functioned as the town of Bon Temps temporary conscious. Right and wrong were HD sharp in her mind. Vampires bad. Breathing good.
I love Tara's spark. I love the fact that her character has been painted with fine lines instead of broad strokes. She isn't mad just for the sake of it -- she's been abused, unloved, abandoned and hopeless. She had the right to her unhappiness. But, of course, all that made her uneasy on the eyes at times.
So I wasn't super surprised when Tara was left out of True Blood's new beauty line, which debuts on HSN August 9th.
There's the Sookie Sookie set of blush-colored nail polishes meant to connote the star's "human side and her ethereal side with magical powers." Resident beauty queen Pam also has her ownshade inspired by "her edgy, black leather-wearing character." Even newbie vamp, Jessica, has a keepsake color -- a dark and sultry red. There's also a fragrance, diffuser and body veil that makes your skin shimmer. But none of it is inspired by Tara. Or by her fabulous cousin, the multi-colored scarf-toting, smack-talking Lafayette. I guess no one wants nails like theirs.
Writing about my mild obsession with Tara a few years ago, I described her as "gorgeous, but not desired." In a revealing moment from Season 3's sixth episode, "I Got a Right to Sing the Blues," a gang of fangers surround Tara, who has been tied up by an insane vampire named Franklin, who claims to love Tara. When Franklin claims Tara as his own, the rest of the undead give him a Kanye shrug. Nobody wants her. She's a throw-away.
But now that Tara is a vampire things have changed. After running away to Atlanta to become a lesbian cage fighter -- or perhaps just a cage fighter who happens to be a lesbian -- then infiltrating a cult of witches to save Sookie (again) and then getting shot in the head by a drug-addicted werewolf to save Sookie (again), Tara is "turned" by the ultimate vampy vampire, Pam. And, finally, in becoming a monster, just like everybody else, Tara has finally begun to stick out -- in a good way.
After debuting her new body and bustier, Pam takes one look at Tara and says, "You actually look halfway decent."
"If I wanted to look like a drag queen, I would have raided Lafayette's closet," she shoots back.
At first Tara seems uncomfortable with the new her, but as usual there's something underneath her sassy exterior. "I am many things but sweet ain't one of them," she tells a customer who makes a mistake xoJaner Somer might shank him for.
For her part Tara seems to have finally let go of the desire to actually be sweet someday. Sweet like the-always-in-danger Sookie or even fellow baby vampire Jessica, who excitedly tells Tara, "The world is wide open to us." Tara smiles seductively, knowingly at that -- the perpetually morose sidekick-turned-monster becoming the master of her own fate. I think I know what I'm going as this Halloween.