Once, years ago I floated the idea to a boyfriend that I’d wear the same black cotton dress every day for a month. I’d acquired three of the exact same dress, to rotate. It happened to be his favorite dress to see me in, so I figured it wouldn’t be a big deal. Instead he whipped his head emphatically back and forth oh hell no, that’s just not okay!! “No!” he said. “No way!!” That was a surprise. What’s the problem exactly?
I was simply just tired of thinking about outfits. I desired a break from this waste of mental processing, of brain power. Thirty days of freedom from thinking about dressing myself. And makeup and whatever, even though I barely wear any anyway. I just didn’t even want to look in the mirror at all. I wanted to forget myself. I wanted to forget I’m a woman. I wanted to divert this energy into projects. 20 minutes, 30 minutes a day adds up.
Because if you want to make art, you want to be a writer, or even if you want to just get a whole lot of things done, or maybe you just want some more time to yourself to watch tv, you can’t be expected to also act like a walking work of art all the time. It’s too much. But this is what is expected and encouraged, to channel all this creativity into our appearance. Be an art piece, instead of making art. Just BE the art. Much easier.
It’s also sad. Not kind of sad, fully sad. How much of our creativity is channeled in this way, squandered to billion-dollar industries, sacrificed to please someone else, or some internalized concept – someone’s else’s inane concept? Inane concept of you that didn’t even come from you? We can call it out for what it is. Someone else’s fantasy. What’s my own f*ckin fantasy? What’s yours? Is it even possible to know?
It can’t last, carrying on like this. Cause it gets tiring to do it all. You can’t always be AND do. So you make a choice. Most of us would eventually give up on… the actual art, as in other creative enterprises beyond the body and face. With our creativity and money used up already in being the art – and one has only so much energy and time. Not everyone wants to hear about your brilliant intellectual or artistic creations. But nearly everyone wants you to be pretty, and look good. And you can sell that so much more easily in this life. And as the pretty girl, ppl will be falling all over themselves to help you. Right?
This is the world we live in, unless we absolutely f*cking stand the f*ck up and demand better. So that is what I am here to do and the whole purpose of all of this. I do not insult those of us who embrace beauty and fashion. If you’re smart and realistic you know that physical beauty can get you somewhere, and you can and perhaps should trade on that if you can. And, it’s fun. And that’s great and it’s also cool. AND frankly I, too, indulge. However. This shit – and I include the weight loss industry, the special diet industries, the exercise industry, and the supplements industries in all this btw – selling us the dream of our best self-improved self – this shit can not be allowed to OWN us. And essentially run our damn lives, at times. The industries as a whole are getting our most productive years from us, our youth and even our eventual seniority forfeited to their bottom line in all these different yet formulaic ways that steal our fire. So can we, at least some of the time, be smarter than “basic” smart? Or like, outside of smart, er…. outsider smart??? lol cringe but this whole blog project is cringe anyway so while we’re at it….. whatever, let’s not waste our time.
Have we ever noticed that calling ourselves smart in any kind of way is probably gonna ruffle some feathers? Can’t have that LOL … unless you’re a dude, especially the demographic of dude who tends to run this country and most of the world. Then 99 out of 100 times you can call yourself whatever you want and make outrageous claims, ppl just shrug and move on. Honestly if you want to resist all of this, it doesn’t even take that much to freak people out. I didn’t know that wearing the same outfit for 30 days could inspire such an impassioned and uncharacteristic reaction from an otherwise highly laid-back beau.
Outsider smart – ie outside the super obvious and unoriginal thing of trading on our beauty – (not to mention all the other things we’re supposed to keep beautiful and perfect, like houses -) we can admit that investing so much in this type of beauty is just an immediate gratification with practically zero lasting and meaningful influence. Physical beauty is so limited because it’s so… right now. But what about later? How much does this beauty affect our future, and in what ways, and how does that get super complicated, twisted around, and fucked up so that we end up on our backs in this life and forgotten in the next one?
Our creativity channeled into any art, writing, etc. that is capable of actual meaningful influence, will still be here later. A pretty face? You can save it in all the photos of time periods that you outlive, but unless you are the one exception called Marilyn Monroe or maybe Greta Garbo then its impact fades right quick. Of course it’s beyond exceptionally rare for a face to garner such lasting fame. Even then, you were still nothing more than a face. Which couldn’t have even existed like that anyway, without all those products and that equipment. For everyone else, the next new face takes its place in the blink of an eye. Art, writing, music, artistic and intellectual pursuits of all kinds – as in the creativity beyond the beauty, fashion, and body control industries – is a little less brutal. It typically has more meaning for us, for one thing. Your face can go but you still have your brain, your imagination. The arts will still always have the next big thing popping up, too – but that’s a good thing. Cause all that other new art means a lot too. And cause the new art can never really replace the art that came before it. It all becomes a part of the history of consciousness, of culture; it is the trace we leave behind. While the vast majority of faces, of outfits, are forgotten and discarded by history. Or acknowledged merely as a nebulous blur of trends, defined and identified in terms of decades. I don’t want us all to just become a f*ckin BLUR!
Again. I am not going to say that I don’t like makeup, fashion and all that- I just said above that I absolutely do. Does this make me hypocritical? Absolutely not. Two opposing things can both be true – I mean if we don’t believe this then we are just stupid (but thankfully we are not that stupid). Makeup and fashion are fun, sure. I already said that. But their significance is just so far overinflated and with the injections and the overselling of procedures and the diet/exercise propaganda and the Hollywood and the influencers making us feel like shit or at least like there is so much more to live up to and therefore consume, we are spending more and more. Why do we give in day after day, letting all this punish and torture women and not even say a damn thing about it? Setting aside what these pretty things give to us for a second – what do they take from us? Yes take. And why do they have to feel so obligatory in this life? Why can’t they just be fun? Why is there so much more to it, than that? Could it be because of the time and money and creativity suck, could it be because it is a problem for us to be too intelligent, could it be because industry is getting so rich off of us, and/or because women are actually, even literally, dying for this?
I wanted to do this anti-fashion experiment where my entire wardrobe consists of the one same cotton dress every single day for 30 days because there is only so much creativity, only so many decisions you can make in one day. Who can keep up with a full-time day job, an art and writing job on the side, all the chores and errands of life, AND the pressures and costs of being an art piece, too? I’m curious what it would be like, to no longer waste such resources at all. With beauty and fashion as a creative outlet eliminated. What would shift? It’s how I imagine the lives of so many men, and the comparatively basic standards that appear to make their lives so much simpler. Free of the expected extra encumbrance of being a walking showpiece. Why do we do it? A lot of reasons duh. Being pretty makes plenty of people wanna “listen” to you for one thing, or so it would seem. Sure it helps anyone to be attractive in a superficial and materialistic culture, but the demand on us is… just different. For us, being pretty often also has the the odd effect of, simultaneously, making plenty of folks not wanna listen to you, for all kinds of weird and power-dynamic-esque reasons. You can get them in front of you, but will they actually be able to hear what you say? It’s a crapshoot.
What could it be like to gaze into the world without the self-conscious burden of the unbridled reverse gaze in our face? To observe and experience without being so excessively observed? I may not get to know all of that, by limiting myself to one outfit and no makeup for a month – but I desired the time, the energy, and the extra cash too, that this anti-fashion experiment will afford. I would take myself out of that game, I would consciously and metaphorically bench the observer in my mind. Can we temper this interminable feedback loop always in the shadows of our mind… of pressure, of self-consciousness? -Not self-awareness, because that would be different. True self-awareness, beyond the superficial – this is what I really wanted to reach. And I needed all of my brain for that. ALL of it. For ME. And for a meaningful PURPOSE.
It comes down to this. Is our appearance the most essential and fundamental thing we have to say, so much that we give up so much else of ourselves????? Is it part of basic survival for us? Is this the most valuable thing we have to give to a partner, to the world????? Do we need it? How much more could we do with our creativity, if we didn’t funnel so much of our resources into this? Does all this crap just make it easier to control us, and limit our innovative potential? Our fascination with the beauty and fashion industries show what creative spirits we really are. What if we didn’t have that, what would we do with all this energy instead?
Isn’t all this crap designed around the male gaze, and how to support and maintain it? What is our own gaze actually created by? Can we find our own true gaze, which can literally be anything? Why can’t our own natural beauty be enough, as it is for the men in our lives? Why do we need to do so much? And be so hard on ourselves? Even when we do speak up about any of this, maybe even write some article about it, we can be so nice and so diplomatic and so polite and so charming as we talk about the ways we get screwed over.
So anyway, back to the original case in point. Here was this man, my boyfriend – as nice a guy as he was overall, as accepting, as progressive, (and as much as he allegedly admired my intelligence) – yet this minimalist fashion proposal of mine was just a step too far. My appearance was, like it or not, important. It entertained him. He didn’t want me to cut the crap. He liked it.
It was SO disappointing.
This “your beauty is your power” concept. It might generate income and opportunity, but it doesn’t say anything. It has no real opinion. Not of any real consequence, anyway. It doesn’t argue. Like a devoted pet, it couldn’t be more agreeable.
It may be a bit of amusement for us all. But you’re in your place, too.
I am okay with stepping out of my place.
Let’s be truly original.