Pam Spence, of Ostrander, Ohio, is a woman of many hats, both literally and figuratively. Pam has been a puppeteer, a mead maker, a street performer, and a poet. She is a wife, mother, and grandmother. But throughout her life’s work she has always been a writer. Pam currently works as feature writer and editor of two local papers and has authored two works of non-fiction so far. Her latest book, Glad Rags: Inspiring Clothes and the Women Who Wear Them, is a collection of portraits of women who discovered new strength and authenticity when they adopted one special piece of clothing.
PT: Let’s talk first about your writing background. What led you to writing?
PS: I would say that no matter what I’ve done in my adult life, there has always been a component of writing. I always wanted to be a writer and I think that anything I did was an opportunity to write.
PT: What was your mission in writing Glad Rags?
PS: Glad Rags is not the book I started out to write I had planned to write a book about women who dared: women who became astronauts climbed mountains. In the midst of all that I came to realize that a lot of times it takes every bit as much courage to do the small things, to take care of yourself.
PT: Would you say your goal was to empower women while helping them to have fun?
PS: It’s not empowering so much as inspiring them particularly through the avenue of fun. I wanted something that inspired people by surprising them and making them laugh. And that very often is the place of power because it releases tension.
PT: So what did you find in the process of researching for Glad Rags?
PS: There was always some kind of “Aha” moment. Almost all the time, women would say “something shifted.” That more than anything was what I was looking for: What is the spark? And then I realized it was a very physical thing that happened. It wasn’t something in their head; it was a piece of clothing. They put it on and said, “Yes! This!” That’s the moment I was really intrigued with.
PT: Our culture very much encourages people to get that “one more thing, one more thing,” with the promise that the next possession is going to soothe our souls. How can one embrace the Glad Rags mentality without just putting a band-aid over the real issues in one’s life?
PS: I think that’s kind of a valid point; it’s really hard to make it clear how different that is. You can’t just say “Okay I’m going to go out and buy something! And it’s going to make a difference!” It doesn’t work that way. I really think it is that thing that you have to step into. It kind of puts you in a different place and sparks something that you already have inside you. It’s much more of an adventure.
PT: What advice would you give to women who want to start doing the Glad Rags thing?
PS: It starts with the attitude. It starts with being playful, not taking yourself so seriously. Looking for something that gives you joy. You go yard sale shopping, you go to Goodwill, because then you don’t feel inhibited about trying something on. It’s about feeling free to imagine yourself in these different scenarios. It’s really hard to describe because there isn’t a blueprint. I wish there were.
PT: Do straight men get into wearing “glad rags?”
PS: Some do. But it’s not the same. The comparable thing, I think, is cars for a lot of men.
PT: It’s nice to know that “glad rags” aren’t as expensive as cars! LOL
PS: I do buy things, but I don’t spend anywhere near as much as a lot of women do on makeup or their wardrobe. I always buy thrift store quality, things like that. And to me it’s an adventure. It’s fun. That for me is very much my marker. When I go thrift shopping or yard “saling” or to eBay or whatever, it’s really fun. When I was a young woman and we’d go shopping for clothes it was filled with anxiety.
PT: You self-published your book. How did you make that happen?
PS: I didn’t have the money to self-publish. But I had interviewed several people whose projects were funded through Kickstarter. So I went that route: I got people excited about it, I got people talking about it. They became familiar with the title, with some of the images. That kind of greased the wheels a little bit. That got it going. And my project was modest enough, I was able to be realistic; and every little bit, every $10, $25 contribution, all of those things add up. So all I’d say is it’s worth it to try something like that.
For more information, or to order Glad Rags, visit http://www.gladragsproject.com/