When I was 20 years old, I showed up to a club on Sunset Blvd. in stilettos and a cheetah print, G-string leotard and called it a Halloween costume.
Tonight at a Costume Carnival, I will be dressed as the Queen of Hearts. If I can get her to cooperate, my daughter will be Alice in Wonderland:)
Although my costume choices have changed over the years, I have always liked dressing up.
When I was in the sex industry, I dressed up all the time. Like many women, I created another character—Monique. I hid behind her. It was easier to be Monique when I was at the strip club. She did things Harmony would never do.
The problem was, when I wiped off my make-up at the end of the night and tried to shower off the smell of cigarettes and body spray, I couldn’t quite get Monique off of me.
The longer I was in the sex industry, the more the line between who she was and who I am began to blur. I lost myself in her.
When I first started going to church, I had to stop myself from introducing myself as Monique. By the time I quit stripping, I barely knew how to respond when someone called me by my real name.
Hearing “Harmony” set a wave of vulnerability through me. My ears were raw and tender to the sound of that name—as though the one speaking it knew too much about me. Yes, Monique was my hiding place.
Monique is gone. I don’t need her anymore. My life no longer requires me to create aliases and compartmentalize experiences. I have been on a journey of discovering my true identity—becoming the woman I was created to be—and I quite like it.
So tonight, when I take off my hoop-skirt gown and wipe off my heart-shaped lips, I will still be Harmony. Knowing this brings me peace and makes dressing up all the more fun.
How about you? Who will you be when you take your costume off?
Harmony Dust founded Treasures in 2003 while completing a Master’s in Social Welfare at UCLA. To date, she has trained outreach leaders that have gone on to establish more than 97 sex industry outreaches on 5 continents. She has been featured in various media sources, including Glamour Magazine, The Dr. Drew Show, and The Tyra Banks Show. She is a sought after speaker and her memoir, Scars & Stilettos, gives an account of the journey of going from working in strip clubs, to leading an organization that reaches women in the sex industry on a global scale.
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