Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale
Her infinite variety
Antony and Cleopatra, Act II Scene II
Hell yeah, DJ Granny!
Looking in the mirror these days tends to confirm the inevitable – I am getting older. Of course, we’re all getting older, and always getting older. But the process is more noticeable at some points in life than others. The first fine lines. The realisation that people I went to school with are getting married. The impending need to find a Real, Grown-Up Job after years of higher education. Traditionally, the process of recognising of one’s aging (and, by extension, one’s eventual mortality) is regarded as an intimidating and depressing one. In reality, though, I haven’t found it to be so. It’s incremental, full of surprises, and even rather interesting. Bring on the grey hairs!
Mark Your Man - because Peggy Olson says so!
I recently posted some
half-arsed ramblings incisive comments on the personal and feminist politics of clothing, concluding that, for me at least, it’s a kind of game of coded references, as well as a means of looking ‘attractive’ and not getting arrested for indecent exposure. I wanted to follow that up by mulling over the separate-but-related topic of makeup, which I refer to as ‘ladygoo’, but only in private as the term is liable to be misinterpreted in an unfortunate way. Even more so than clothing, this has implications for feminist and feminine identity. So, makeup, maquillage, cosmetics, slap, what you will. Why do I wear it, what does it do for me, and should I even bother?
This is how I dress. This isn't actually me. But feel free to pretend that it is.
Grovelling apologies for the hiatus in posting, but I’ve been busy engaging in Extreme Awesomeness* (there’s a campaign to make it an Olympic sport by 2012). Today’s post is brought to you from the depths of my wardrobe, where I have been searching for Narnia and something to wear tonight down t’pub. The resultant tantrum – of the I WANT TO BURN ALL MY CLOTHES variety – got me thinking about the importance of clothing and dress in our self-presentation. Why do we wear what we wear, and, from a feminist/intellectual perspective, is it possible to justify a love of clothes, make-up and ‘dressing up’?
The observation that dress is a key component of our projected identity is hardly a new one. But before you call me Captain Obvious, what I’m thinking about in this post is not the general social implications of ‘clothing’ – the adoption of ritual costume, or uniform, or any other sartorial markers of distinct cultural identity. Instead, I’ve been considering the thought processes that I undergo while choosing clothes in an everyday context, and how this fits into notions of psychological, gendered and class-based identity. (Yeah, deep, huh? This is how I justify reading Elle instead of The Economist on the bus).
I’ve always thought of myself as a fairly skeptical person – after all, it’s my job as a researcher to treat things as having value only when that value can be proven (or reasonably deduced). So I was surprised at myself when I agreed to undergo a tarot reading recently; because abrogating my tendency towards self-analysis, in favour of what I would normally regard as an arbitrary pseudo-science, is not something that fits in with my desire to find logical, ‘correct’ answers to life’s problems.
Men seldom make passes at girls who wear glasses.
Or so said Dorothy Parker. I have to confess, I’m not sure I agree with the Constant Reader on this one (although her observation that ‘women and elephants never forget’ is spot on). My glasses have, on occasion, been known to bring all the boys to the yard – much to my surprise, it should be added. It might just be the case that I’m especially attractive to visual impairment fetishists, or perhaps I appeal to men repressing their lust for Roy Orbison and Jarvis Cocker. Either way, this latest phase in my bespectacled life is a welcome change to the years of myopic teenage sturm und drang, in which glasses were the enemy of all things dear to a 14-year-old girl’s heart – Getting A Boyfriend, Looking Vaguely Cool, and Not Getting My Face Kicked In After School. So fiery was my passionate hatred for glasses, that I very often refused to put them on to watch TV in the privacy of my own bedroom. As such, it wasn’t until Season 4 of Buffy that I realised Giles was actually the Nescafe Gold Blend man; having watched virtually all previous episodes through the haze of an unmodified -2.75 prescription.
Following on from last night’s grousings about the difficulties I have had in accepting my work as something of intellectual value, it’s worth considering the idea of ‘disjunction’ more fully. By disjunction, I mean the mental gap between the projected, external self and the internal workings of the private mind. I don’t intend to address this from an ontological perspective, although I might betray a weakness for pseudo-existentialism – but only because those kids of May 1968 looked so damn good with their Gitanes and Breton jerseys, regardless of how flimsy their house of revolutionary cards turned out to be. But I digress. Rather than looking at disjunction as a phenomenon of abstract consciousness, I’ve been thinking about what it means as a lived experience. A psychological analysis, if you like.
A PhD? We always knew you would end up doing something like that. Everyone must be so proud!
Did you, now? Did you indeed? How very perspicacious of you. Because I certainly didn’t. As with everything else I have ‘achieved’, I stumbled upon it in search of the praise, the recognition, the tangible achievement upon which my self-worth has largely been predicated since childhood. I have, in a sense, jumped through a series of social, academic and financial hoops in order to be able to counter ‘And what is it that you’re doing now?’ with something that allows me to project competence, intelligence and success. That ‘something’ just happens to be ‘a doctorate’. Sounds fancy? Perhaps. But still, just hoops.
Filed under Identity, PhD