The Emory Wheel 2/21
This is how it looked up close:
|In the bathroom, putting on ageifying makeup with Angelle Tanner.|
|I'm front and center with a large part of the cast. Aren't they lovely?|
But it's OK. It would have been a whole other story if I had been trying to look cute, but sure enough, my wearing the "mask" of being someone else gave me the leeway not to care about how "beautiful" Lauren looked.
I spend a lot of my time, day to day, talking about "the problem." Sometimes it's heresy (that's in Christian History class) or divine wrath (in Old Testament class); other times, it's homelessness, or homophobia, or lack of funding to pay social workers, teachers and cops a decent salary and what that says about our values as a country. I think about the issues associated with the market economy (in Markets, Justice and Christian Ethics class) or with the impossibility of personal actualization in a system which keeps us from defining ourselves independent of what the advertising industry inundates us with (in Morality in American Life). I consider steps towards solving problems that are part of modern life, so ingrained in our collective souls that we don't even see them until we're in pain. For example, I didn't think about just how much I relied on my youth and "beauty" to define myself until I perceived myself losing it.
As you might expect, I also spend a lot of time fighting the hopeless feeling that the problems are too huge, and I am too small and powerless, to ever solve or even ameliorate them. No one listens to some grad student living in Atlanta with no money or powerful friends, and do I shape public policy? Pff. Please. I can't change "the problem." So what's the point?
I have little to no control over the world... but I have control over myself.
I have daily conversations about this with lots of women, and at least as many with men, and all of them, down to the last one, have been affected in some way by this project. No one hears about it and is totally bored-- at worst, they tilt their heads and go, "Huh. That's interesting." Women love to talk about what a pain in the ass it is to have to look cute all the time, or how they stopped caring through some life-changing event, or how they could never, ever, leave the house without foundation, and why that is. Men tell me how much more they like women who don't wear makeup (I mean, like, a lot of men), and how sexy it is when a woman walks around with nothing but confidence on her face. Some women have even begun to question their own habits, and one of two have joined me for a day or so at a time to see what it feels like. My choice to change has made other people think about their assumptions, and I can't tell you how gratefully I feel about that.
There's a huge, stupid, oppressive beauty standard and attendant industry in Western culture that insists that youth, long hair, white teeth, and a tiny waist are the ultimate goals in life, and I can't change what the masses think. But what I've done in TME has been like a billboard advertising an alternative way of moving through the world as a woman... and I can certainly see why many women, religious and otherwise, choose to do so.