Friday, March 13, 2009
This winter I've taken a break from my usual studio work and have been playing around with some fabrics that my friend Katy Helman has printed with imagery generated from her students' drawings. I've been stitching the fabrics together, creating vignettes and then combining them with other fabrics to create clothing - children's clothing, women's clothing - overalls, skirts, prom dresses.
Now it is time to exhibit these pieces and of course that means finding bodies to put them on. Which brings up the thorny issue of body shapes and sizes and the difficult reality that clothes show better on some than others. And bodies move in many directions which is a good thing but . . .
The last time I did this much sewing and fitting, it was for costumes for a production with nine women at the Opera House. Nine very different female bodies, young, old, curvy, broad it was such a relief to get to the one NYC actress - a "perfect" size 8. As a designer, my job was easier on a standardized form but . . .
Growing up with my share of media-inspired ideas about the female body and beauty, I worked hard to love of my non-standardized body in my feminist 20s and enjoy its strength and health since then but . . .
I still think a few more inches in height, a few fewer pounds in weight would make clothes look better. And now I layer on the struggles of my beautiful, short, curvy daughter to find teen fashions that fit and I rail once again against industrial stereotyping.
Barbie and I both turn fifty this year - along with two favorite cousins. I think those of us who aren't made of plastic are glad that our bodies reflect our lives, the bearing of children, the joy of movement, the power of age . . . and very glad that our feet can stand flat against the earth as well as bend into sexy heels.
And I am so ready to return to inanimate forms- preferably rectangles!