It’s been quite a week. I now have the time and inclination to attend many more of the events I’m invited to, now that I’m no longer teaching. I’ve been coming home late which is unusual for me. I’ve also been tongue-tied and stammering when I’m asked how I came to be at this event or “what I do”. Which is also unusual for me.
In many ways over the last few weeks, we’ve been directly and indirectly talking about identity. How we choose to define ourselves and how others try to do the defining for us. From this serial event attending something has occurred to me about why I might be put in a box: I’m kind of elusive when it comes to defining who I am and what I actually do right now. People don’t know how to define me, I can’t define me and never could as I’m always in motion. I think this makes others anxious and it was making me anxious last spring. I’m not a fan of tight garments and dislike being subjected to fittings where my clothes are turned into a stricter, more rigid boundary between me and them. The lack of space allows no room for movement between the garment and my body which for me conveys the sensuous experience of dressing; allowing me to continue to feel sexual and alive. Perhaps this is the best answer to those who want to know why I always wear clothes that seem to be too big for me. There is still a boundary but it’s much more open and flexible, there’s lots of room for me to move and feel whatever I want to feel.
Unlike many of those who travel in the social media realm as I do, the identity of influencer just does not cut it for me. I still retain and claim my identity of academic though as a layperson now perhaps I should substitute public intellectual. This is a lost role today but oh my are they sorely needed when thinking should become the new activism (thank you, Jenny Odell). This identity is ususally what I start with as I begin a long and rambling explanation of how I came to be at this event making content that will later go up on my Instagram. “Until this past September, I was a professor”, I say. Then after that, it’s more of a meandering account of what I do every day. This might comprise any or all of my following project-related identities: writer, editor, model, art director, salesperson, researcher, activist, photographer, stylist and even I might be bold enough to claim, an artist. If I thought more about it I could probably come up with a few more.
The discourse here the last couple of weeks has been about us naming and claiming our identity(s), many of us as persons growing older or all of us for that matter as that process begins the moment we are born. I’m so very interested in both keeping this space open and creating others where multiple, fluid identities can co-exist without being essentialized or controlled. Where boundaries are flexible enough that we may be influenced by and influence others as we are collaboratively evolving and sharing a new narrative about the later years of badass women. Because we are. Badass women.
Marie left us with a very interesting statement in her comment (thank you) and I’m really curious to know how you relate to it. I think it important the students hear the answers. I’m also in a more collaborative realm and am being inspired in my writing by what you are writing in return. So no agendas, let’s just see what we come up with.
“I dress to reflect how I feel and I dress in order to feel”