Friday, August 4, 2017

TGIF

This week I watched a powerful documentary called Embrace.  It is one woman's journey to discover why women in general feel so wretched about their own bodies.  My husband watched it, too.  The ideas in the film are nothing new to me, but it is the first time in a couple of decades I have really delved into the ideas presented.  The film was a gut-check.  I cried a lot.  It hurts to see how we hate our bodies and try to live up to some non-existent ideal.  Men fall for it as well, and get extremely cruel and judgmental about a woman who doesn't match the ideal.

As a teenager, I rebelled against the images presented by Seventeen magazine, Cosmopolitan, and others.  I resented the emphasis on women's bodies, and I resented the unwelcome comments that men dished out to me daily.  Daily. 

I wore baggy overalls, let my body hair grow, did not wear make-up.  I probably felt better about my body in those days.  I was flipping the bird to the norm, and it felt good.  Which reminds me, we watched the Janis Joplin biopic "Little Girl Blue" this week.  Talk about flippin' the bird!  My appreciation of Janis came after her death in 1970.  I was in eighth grade, and my musical tastes were much more Top 40 in those days.

She lamented that she was not a "pretty girl" even though she knew that doesn't mean dick.  She had talent, smarts, and fearlessness.  Of course she was also very sad and lonely most of the time.  So here we have this mega talented musical pioneer, who was insulted over her looks and her up front honesty.  Nobody likes a smart girl.

The universe seems to be conspiring to bring me a message this week, and the topper was a video about a woman with a rare autoimmune disease that will dramatically shorten her life.  Some arshole criticized her few gray hairs and told her she looks 70 years old.  The video was fantastic, and I'd share a link if they provided one, but no.  My takeaway from the video, apart from my admiration for this wondrous woman, is that men DO THIS SHIT ALL THE TIME.  By THIS SHIT I mean feel entitled to comment on a woman's appearance.  Like, WTF?  Who the hell said it was okay to invade a person's space with your hateful comments?  Why do you feel the need to do this?  If women spoke like this to men on a regular basis, you'd better believe men would be insulted.

And then, kids, this happened:  I was on FB looking up some photographers from my past and quite by accident came upon a former photo teacher from college.  He was the guy who reviewed my portfolio to ascertain whether I should be admitted to the photography program.  He wasn't impressed with my body of work, but he was impressed with my body (I guess).  He suggested that if I wanted into the program I would need to develop a "personal relationship" with him.  I was stunned.  I think I left my body for a second there.  I grabbed my portfolio case and left his office.  I considered filing a complaint, but shit, I was 21 years old and I had no witnesses.  Who was going to believe me?  So, I find this jerk off on FB and I sent him a personal message telling him how horrible that experience was for me.  40 some years later I finally found the courage to tell this man what a pig he was.  I found myself feeling fear,  wondering if he was going to have a hateful reaction to my email.  Then I laughed/cried because 40 years later I'm still afraid of this guy!  Heaven help me!*

So, my dreams this week have been full of scenes inside of houses, busting up the furniture, taking a sledgehammer to the brickwork, going full out destructo.  The dreams are revealing to me just how angry I am.  About all of the above.  I thought I worked through the shit decades ago.  Apparently not.  Hehe.

I scream into the wind, boys and girls, I scream

Despite it all, and thank heavens, there is such goodness.  My grandson turned six years old this week.  My daughter took this amazing photo of the kids, exhausted, at the Jersey shore.


My husband and I will be celebrating our third wedding anniversary tomorrow, and three years of being in our home.  He loves me and I love him.  Big.  Here is a fun picture he took of me living out loud.






May you live out loud, and fuck the bastards anyway!



*The Pig did NOT admit me to the program.  I waited until the next term, when a visiting lecturer, a woman, was reviewing portfolios.  She loved my work and I was admitted.  With a very limited number of teachers in the program, I did have to work with this guy over the next two years.  I was intensely uncomfortable around him the entire time.  I watched him with the female photography students, usually wondering who had been harassed by him, or who felt compelled to comply.

12 comments:

  1. Oh Tara, you tell the story of what it means to be a woman so hauntingly well. This obsession with our physical bodies, this condescension and the crossing of boundaries over and over again. Why can't we just all be humans? I think I must have been asking this question all of my life. We're all in this together, Tara, we with our xx chromosomes, baby. Watch out!!!

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    1. Watch out indeed! It was trendously good to laugh with you on the phone today. It does my heart GOOD, Robin!

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  2. I think we're all in this together whatever our chromosomes. Take a walk down the men's cosmetics aisle of your local supermarket and you'll see that this insanity is spreading. There's stuff on those shelves that I wouldn't know what to do with - gels, creams, perfumes, sprays, special razors to shape your beard (no, sorry, "style your facial hair") etc etc. Then they pay for hairstyles that any normal person (by which I mean old farts like me) would consider a joke, though an expensive one. What all this amounts to, quite apart from the stress which it gives to individuals, is an incredible waste of money and time. And talent too if your photography was prevented from developing at that time.
    Just think what might happen if all this money which is spent on fashion and personal grooming might be invested into making the world a better place - or even just people going out and enjoying themselves rather than staying at home worrying about what they see in the mirror.

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    1. Hi John, I totally agree with you. After I typed that xx chromosome thing, I realized it negated the point of my comment. Ah well, I was too lazy to change it. We are all in this together... A to Z!

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    2. Here's my take: yes, we are all in it together. But, to a certain extent, saying this is akin to people saying "All Lives Matter" in response to the Black Lives Matter movement. There is a particular burden that women share, and it's not just about cosmetics and beauty norms. It's about being devalued on a daily basis because of one's gender. It's about male intrusion into the psyches of women because men feel entitled to judge our bodies. We are not ornaments. We are people.

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    3. John, I would love to see a study of how these new items are affecting young men. Certainly, there is a pressure for men to address balding heads in order to regain their youthfulness. Pure poppycock. And I completely agree that all that money spent in the fashion industry would be better spent on helping humanity. But, see my comment above regarding the particular injury to women in general.

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    4. I understand and agree with what you say, Tara. However I'm sure you'll agree that women have borne this burden with dignity and have used peaceful means to further their arguments. However if men become obsessed with their physical appearance, alongside the pursuit of economic gain, to the exclusion of any regard for generosity, kindness and understanding, then we have a very ugly, explosive and dangerous mix indeed. Even if someone is successful enough in this endeavour to become President of the United States.

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  3. I watched Embrace but think it spoke more to a younger generation than to mine. I might see it again though to see if it feels different next time. We lost the last part due to our internet not working for it and that also might change it. I didn't have the issues many women did by marrying pretty young and living a protected life by not having to be in the workplace (good and not good in other ways). So much of my younger years was about raising kids and their lives that I had to rediscover myself in my 50s, which were actually my best years for valuing what I looked like and enjoying being mature and middle-aged. I did a lot of photographing of myself, even in the nude, in those years as validation. Now as an old woman, I don't like the photos for the fat and aging, and hence have virtually none of me that I want to keep. In my 50s, I had bought books on women aging to encourage myself, but have to say we aren't really into old until our 70s, as 60s are mostly like middle-age.

    Accepting old age and not looking like I used to look are now my challenges. When Bette Davis said getting old is not for sissies, she said a mouthful. Interestingly, on overweight, I always saw really fat, younger women as having beauty and women too thin not so much-- even when I wasn't in the really fat category. Now when I am, it's harder to see the beauty for myself at least lol

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    1. your last sentence says it all. the challenge to love our bodies is life-long, and you were lucky to escape the bulk of it in your early life. Especially in our youth oriented consumer culture, we look at our older and fuller bodies and feel as if we need to 'fix' them!

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  4. Live out loud and fuck the bastards! My new catch phrase.

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