When People See the Woman Inside
This is but one of several pictures taken for an editorial in Glassbook Magazine. I wrote recently about what it feels like to not be seen, to not see oneself, for various reasons, not just age, in the places and spaces where beauty and style are defined and represented. I thought about the feelings I had when looking at that cover of Vogue I spoke about and the affect and desire I had while working on, and then receiving the images that appeared in this shoot. When looking at that infamous Vogue cover there was almost a sadness, a shock in some ways, at not seeing someone like me (hey I love fashion too), followed by some despair. For me I always end on anger: how dare you I say. This is generally followed by pragmatism related to figuring out the most productive response which usually ignites my passion and energy. I worry though in this time and all the bad news last week, about those who are not able to move away from the sadness, loss and despair. That makes me feel even more motivated. Let's get down to business here. How can I use my platform? I am never not going to be anti-authority and angry but what I am learning is that I can be is creative, productive and engaging instead of fighting and alienating.
When I looked at the photos taken during the Glassbook shoot, I felt known, I felt seen. The woman who I feel like inside was recognized and represented by this team of exceptionally talented young people. They chose not to make me be a stereotype, they did not tell me to "stay in my lane", They really, really wanted to show me, to reveal my complexity and so they cared about and for me. They met, spoke to and collaborated with the woman inside. The sexual woman, the woman who loves life, who remains the rebel, the disco queen, the provocateur. When I received the photos I felt overwhelming joy and happiness. I seem to have boundless energy and inspiration ever since. And then I made the connections. All of the emails, comments and thank you's I have received finally clicked for me. I must humbly admit I did not always understand the level of gratitude. I do now. That in me being seen, people feel they are being seen, or at least they feel entitled to be seen. They feel recognized, they remember the woman inside. Young people who have received scary awful messages about getting older see they do not have to disappear or face a life of loneliness and despair simply by doing something we all do from the moment we are born: aging. The system needs to understand what they are doing , not just to those being left out but to those who are already being threatened to be left out if they do not buy products that trade on fear mongering. What is so interesting to me is that they would make even more money if they just realized how much we all love fashion and beauty and would spend our money gladly to indulge and express ourselves if only they engaged us by letting all of us see ourselves in the mirror.
If some people who work in fashion can make this happen, like this team did for me, why can't everyone?