Like many people, I was devastated by Kate Spade’s suicide. In general, I think the news was more shocking than many of the celebrity suicides you hear about because it stood in such stark contrast to the image we all had of her. A smiling, glamorous woman who embodied the old Roald Dahl quote, “If you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.” Or so we thought. We assumed she had good thoughts, happy thoughts, light and glittery thoughts. After all she is the one who encouraged us to be curious and clever and kind. We assumed she felt the way we feel when we clutch our Kate Spade wallets before heading out for a night on the town or the thrill of sass that runs through me when I sling my Kate Spade diaper bag over my shoulder, despite the fact that my newborn just spit up on me. In a way, her products feel like armor to me, reminders of the beauty and goodness accessible within us all. I felt like we were kindred spirits. And that’s why her suicide felt a little personal, and made me feel even closer to her.
I have often felt a little bit of a burden to be happy. When I am dissatisfied, or depressed, or fearful, I feel guilty. And there are people who have come into my life at different times who made me feel like my unhappiness was a betrayal. Especially with all of the violence, discourse, and hurtful happenings in the news, I feel an obligation to 1) downplay any of my own sufferings because I do know my place of privilege, and also 2) post happy things, spread the sunshine, spread the “good feels”. I don’t think there’s inherently anything with this unless you’re purposely trying to distract from important issues, but I do think this creates a mentality of “don’t post anything sad or heavy”.
And I realized when Kate Spade died that I had done that same thing to her. I had placed her on a pedestal, and people on pedestals aren’t allowed to be human. I began paying extra close attention to other glittery gals in my life. I think most women feel this burden to some degree. I know some men do as well (I have one brother who is very sunshine-y, and I see some of the burden in him). But I definitely see more of this in particular women I know, the two who immediately came to mind were my mother and her sister. My Kate Spade-ness certainly stems from them. When we all get together, it looks like a Kate Spade pop-up shop has leaked into the room. But products aside, they are two sparkling, beautiful souls who people flock to when they need sensitivity and sass. As mothers, they naturally have people who do depend on their strength, but we don’t always allow them to be vulnerable. It can make us feel uncomfortable, and we expect everything to be okay with them. Relationships are meant to be a give and take, but these glittery souls are often giving more than taking. That’s not cool.
Please. Please remember that everyone you meet is just as complex as you are. Give them the space to feel. Give them the space to be.