Monday, April 16, 2018

Celebrating Women

My Daily Art collection has become a paper fashion show — here's today's addition. See more (with daily updates) on my Facebook album and on my Instagram feed.
In childhood I got the message that the hair thickening on my brothers' legs was fine, while mine was disgusting, an embarrassment, something I needed to make sure no one saw. Shaving, putting on makeup, wearing "dressy" (aka uncomfortable) shoes and constrictive clothing, was not a pleasure for me, but a punishment, an insidious, subtle message that I was not okay as is.
But at the same time, I read the beauty magazines and longed to feel pretty, to feel worthy of all of the pretty things...
Whether it shows on us or not, we women feel pressure every day over our appearance, a sense that we need to be attractive in order to be worthy of attention. Some women go to great effort to meet this challenge, but for me, this effort feels humiliating. I hate for it to show that I am in any way "trying" to look good.
I remember coming downstairs one morning at about 14 years old in the slightly tight t-shirt I'd slept in. My father stared and smiled at me like I was something delicious to eat. I felt good and bad in that moment—aware of the power of my developing body to attract male attention, glad that my father was smiling at me, but also uneasy. Instead of getting the loving and respectful attention I so desperately wanted from him, I felt like as if I might be devoured.
I admire women who are unapologetically fierce while conforming to these difficult standards— the hair and makeup and shoes and manicures etc. I admire women who don't feel like they're conforming but do all these things in the name of personal expression, or in celebration of their inherent beauty—regardless of age or body size or curves or lack thereof. I also admire women who, like me, have hair in their armpits and dirt under their nails and holes in their jeans and not a single high heel in their closet. AND I admire women who struggle with the pressure, who try things and try other things and sometimes give up trying altogether, eat too much (or too little), have closets full of clothes they never touch or can't bear to shop. We're all up against brutal, irrational pressure. I celebrate all of us!

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