From 'tramp to lady', this is life in an etiquette school
MISTRESS Chrissy hands over an original hot-pink 1950s prom dress and is about to place a taxidermy mouse on my head.
It is not before time either.
If you are not a lady before you turn 30 "it is too late", says the owner of the city's sole multi-disciplinary finishing school, The Lindy Charm School.
Mistress Chrissy (Keepence) spends her days transforming schoolgirls aged six to 12 into young ladies.
Kids walk into her Labrador school as 2020 social media junkies with tech necks - and walk out tall, having learnt the art of make-up, hair, poise, posture and pose.
"In my generation and generation before, we had grandmothers and mothers who were at home and taught us," she says.
"Today kids don't have that because their mums are at work.
"If you don't start the habit when you're young, when you get older it will be foreign. You will spend too much time and effort learning. By 30, it's too late.
"I've grown up in a household where my parents introduced me to vintage and mending what is broken," the 55-year-old continues, hot hair roller in hand.
Mistress Chrissy's house is filled with vintage collectable figurines and punchy-coloured furniture. While she is immaculate in a vintage green-printed dress and soft pink curled hair, she apologies for the non-existent mess as she's renovating.
Hundreds of items from every era are squeezed on to lined up racks alongside a wall donned in pink flamingo paper. Deep red old Hollywood-style cinema curtains keep it company.
An old-fashioned mirror at a make-up station - filled with vintage products and accessories - is where the time machine magic happens.
Mistress Chrissy says she picked the hot-pink 1950s prom dress - only worn once before - to transform this tramp into lady and complement body type, skin tone and hair. A bright pink blush and winged eyeliner to complete the look.
Mistress Chrissy then starts talking straight. Pose that is. Hips are to be angled to create shape, shoulder right and back to lengthen the arm, feet to be pointed and legs folded.
It was a hard gig to master and nothing about it felt natural, but Mistress Chrissy promises the more uncomfortable and awkward you feel, the better the photos will be.
She is right.
Still it is hard to fathom how girls as young as six can be shaped into ladies of etiquette and eloquence.
The Lindy Charm School has copped backlash previously for introducing girls so young to adult trimmings such as make-up, but Mistress Chrissy says she's had more support than negativity.
"Young girls - aged six to 12 - I've been talking to them about hairbrushing, make-up, grooming essentials, posture, poise and posing, how to be etiquette, mannerism and the art of charm," she says.
"There's a lot of debate. What's the importance of beauty? What's the importance of hair and make-up? Why are we putting this on our kids?
"There've been a lot of argument about that, but the majority of the arguments have been positive.
"(Girls) are going to find and discover make-up - you may as well teach them the right way.
"They should really know the importance of grooming. There's no point having beautiful eyebrows when you're 12 and your breath stinks or you have wax in your ears."
The rest of her clients are aged from 25 onwards, hoping to help find individuality or reconnect with their youth.
An 82-year-old woman with dementia was booked in for a makeover and photo shoot for her birthday.
The woman's daughter was hoping it would help her reminisce with the smell of Cedel Hairspray and 1940-50s style.
"When you're 22, you knew what you liked," Mistress Chrissy adds. "But by the time you get to 28, everything you loved has changed from the type of music you listen to, to what you enjoy.
"I've had 60-year-olds come through who have forgotten how to be themselves as they have been busy mums.
"They want to know how to do their make-up as their face has changed and how to dress as their body has changed."
For now the photos will be added to my weird things I've done for news folder but I'm certain these will be cherished when I'm older.
One-on-one consultations start at $150 and is $80 for a group class. City of Gold Coast fund free classes for youths through their Active & Healthy program.
THE LINDY CHARM SCHOOL OATH
Place your hand over your heart and repeat:
We do solemnly swear to uphold the Charm School Oath for Girls. We promise to:
1. To always appreciate beauty.
2. To pursue our passions and believe our my dreams.
3. To give compliments away freely.
4. To be super stylish.
Have a story or an experience worth sharing? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Originally published as Tramp to lady: Inside Coast's etiquette school