Warning: I’m about to get incredibly personal with you all here today. I’m going to share some recent observations and rather deep disappointments for me that came to a head over the past year or so. But, they are negatives I am hoping to turn into positives with my latest personal photography project. Sharing all of this below is a bit terrifying, I have to admit. But, good things are only gained once you exit your comfort zone, right? Read on….
I’ve been looking for love for 45 years now….as long as I’ve been alive really. Oh sure, I’ve had some pretty substantial relationships. But they were relationships where we just weren’t meant for each other. Or relationships where I never could quite measure up to the impossible standards placed upon me (by the men I dated, by society and also eventually by me as well) to be a perfect woman. You know the standards… Don’t age. Keep your body as tight as an 18 year old. Never complain. Don’t nag. In fact, it’s probably better if you don’t have an opinion altogether and just be agreeable. You can never be blonde enough. You can never be skinny enough. Be able to wear a bikini (and still look 18) until the day you die. Keep a perfectly clean house. Take care of everyone else and put yourself last. Tend to the dreams and desires of others and don’t worry about your own. You must never allow wrinkles to form on your face. Be a lady in the parlor but a whore in the bedroom. Don’t be a prude but don’t be a slut either. The list goes on and on and on and on. It leaves you with a never-ending feeling of never being enough. Even when you know deep in your heart that you are valuable beyond belief. But, the true depth of what you have to offer goes unnoticed when society tells you that who you are doesn’t matter, just your shell and what you can do for others does.
“I am, at this moment, what I have always been to him: an object of beauty. He has never loved me as a woman.” ― Philippa Gregory
I experienced these expectations on steroids the past year or so in my experiences in online dating as well as the current political climate. Just as I felt I was finally finding my true voice and mustering the courage to vocalize it, people were actively trying to silence me. I watched in horror as they did this to many other women I know. I was “approached” time and time again online for dates with the most vile and blatant attempts to really just get down my pants. There was no wooing or courting to be found anymore – to at least pretend they were interested in who I was as a person first. No, they have all cut to the chase and it’s very clearly just my body they were wanting with no investment whatsoever on their part. Granted, I do know there are some genuinely good and decent guys out there. But, to be bombarded by this behavior so suddenly and so rampantly really makes a girl more hesitant to put herself out there. And, so I have recoiled from dating altogether. My 45 year search for love is over. If love is to be found, well, it’s going to have to find me….and seriously convince me. And, that’s perfectly fine by me.
While contemplating all of this, I was reminded of the old saying, “just put a bag over it”. It implies that a woman with an unattractive face can be desirable in bed if you cover her head with a paper bag – that all men really need is a hot and willing body to have their way with. That phrase summed up perfectly how I was beginning to feel how only the shallow parts of me mattered while erasing who I really am altogether. And, to be honest, at my age that scares the hell out of me as my exterior my be losing it’s value with age! And, if they can’t see beyond that, they will never see ME! But, I wondered what that might look like in real life and would that really make people happier with women? It removes more than just the physical appearance of the face but also a woman’s personality, her dreams and desires, her heart and soul, her intelligence, her emotions, her opinions, her uniqueness. It leaves her with a shell of expectations placed on her not just by some men but by society in general. This couldn’t really be what we want, is it? It just couldn’t be!
Well, instead of dwelling on all of this further I decided to translate it into an art project. I needed to work these ideas out that are stuck inside my head and heart in a creative and tangible manner. So, I’d like to present the early stages of something near and dear to my heart that I’ve been working on lately…. (be sure to read on after the images.)
Bag Ladies – A Personal Photography Project
So far, the response for this project has been incredibly encouraging and I am immensely grateful. My subjects have expressed similar experiences and it was especially meaningful to be able to work on something we could express our frustrations, sorrows and hope over together. I will continue to shoot images for this, as I have so much more to say with this project still and have some very specific shots I want to capture that I still need the perfect subjects for. If you are interested in collaborating and posing for this, please let me know. I will also blog as we go along to better describe what some of the images really mean for my subjects and I, so be sure to watch this space.
Well, there you have it. I feel like I have broken open my chest and exposed my entire heart and soul to everyone here today. I sure hope you all find as much meaning in this as I do!