Sunday, January 31, 2010

"The Art of a Woman" update... plus a RANT thrown in for good measure.

I’m up to nine models for my “The Art of a Woman” project.  It’s very exciting to see things coming together.  I’ve just read the press release and it’s excellent.  I’ve met with the woman who will be creating the stage in the display window for the models to move around in.  And Charles and I have been passing photographs back and forth of inspiration and ideas.  I’m really surprised to see our vision mesh so beautifully on this one, it’s a convergence of talent and opportunity that is pretty exciting.  Plus, I get tired of being alone so much of the time, so getting out of the studio and working with these amazing women is going to be fun! 
Here is the way the press release describes the publicity stunt in March:

“The 7pm finale window performance "The Art of a Woman" has dual meanings.  The producer and designer, Carmen Rose of Staunton, is a woman artist herself, known for versatile creation in many media, as seen in her painted glass, art quilts, photography and silk scarves represented at OASIS.  Also the concept Rose expresses is that a woman herself--of any size, shape or age-- is a work of art, whether or not she is perceived to be.  Each model, outfitted and made up in extreme fancy, will be replaced by the next in a flow of silent poses, each highlighting a facet of womanhood.  For example, the earthy aspect of womanhood will be portrayed by a model whose skin, hair and gown make her appear to be part of a forest.  Another model will portray woman as a unique treasure, draped in gleaming pearls and sparkling snowflakes.  Rose has designed imaginative makeup, costuming and transitions for this changing display of silent poses.   OASIS presents one performance only at 7pm “The Art of a Woman” in its display window onto Main Street, Friday, March 5.

Women whose ages range from 15 to 54, are scheduled in February for hair, makeup, and costuming by Rose and her team, followed by a professional photo shoot with Charles Garratt in his Staunton photography studio.”

Oh, it tickled me to read this!  Now it just remains to put together all the looks and then the photo shoots.  And of course I’ll be sharing photos with you all along the way as I can!  I think it can be so hard for women to keep perspective on ourselves and our appearance.  We have the fashion and health care industries - hair, makeup, skin care and diet products, plus personal trainers and cosmetic surgeons, to name just a few… and they are aiming BILLIONS of dollars of marketing money at the women of the world with one simple message:  “You are not beautiful now, but you could be if you…  $$fill in the blank$$.”  It’s cruel, it’s wrong and we need to affirm the women around us and we need to REALLY LISTEN when people affirm us.

A young man makes it to his college graduation and he looks out over his future and he has one goal:  Make his mark on the world.  And his pretty classmate agrees with his goal.  She wants to make her mark on the world as well, but she wants to do it wearing a size six.  Marilyn Monroe was a voluptuous size 14.  By the time I was in high school, size 10 was considered “perfect.”  Now our models look like they are starving… because they ACTUALLY ARE!  A young college grad may starve herself and jeopardize her health with any number of risky behaviors to be that size six.  I’m not suggesting for a moment that it’s easier to be a man in our society; men are increasingly included in that message.  We judge people by their appearance, and we judge ourselves the same way.  I still think handsome is still about more than just a man's outward appearance!

Only a few generations back in China, women’s feet were bound from the age of three years old.  Bones were broken and the foot was crushed in on itself.  The x-rays are horrifying and the pain was at times severe.  Many of them were rendered crippled by this practice, but it was the standard of beauty in those days.  In some parts of China, the older generation of women will still look at another woman’s feet before she looks her in the eye when she meets her.  It seems like an extreme example.  However, if we suggest to our young women that they are not beautiful unless they are: thin, their muscles are toned, their nails and toes are done, their hair is long and silky, their skin is perfectly clear, their teeth are white, their brows are tweezed, their glasses are shed for contacts, their teeth have been professionally straightened, their skin is tanned, their warts removed, and they are wearing whatever pop culture demands of them at the moment… it’s a crippling (not to mention expensive) load.  And women then look in the mirror and make comparisons.  And when we don’t like what we see, we draw conclusions that we are not what we want to be, not what we should be.  Sadly many conclude that they are just plain ugly.  How sad when a beautiful woman can’t see her own worth!  There is a sadness I feel when I think of the pressures on women to conform to the standard that is equal to how I felt when I first saw an x-ray of a Chinese woman’s bound foot.  The notion of beauty in this culture is little more than a form of crippling bondage.

I had no intentions of getting on my rant when I started this post.  These are themes that I spoke on when I was at an event in Indiana on a visit a few years back.  I don’t get many opportunities for public speaking these days, I guess that’s why I’m ranting about it here.  There is such a thing as Beauty that is a blessing and not a curse, but this world doesn’t see it on TV, in the movies or peruse it in their magazines.  It shines from the spirit of strong vibrant women everywhere.  We are creative, bold women who are fearless and unbroken by the demands of pop culture and skillful marketing.  We refuse to accept another ideal other than this: to live into the design with which we were created and to bring to fruition EVERY DROP of potential within us by our expiration date.  We may have some pudgy spots, our hair may be weird colors and our teeth may be yellow, but we are beautiful.  And if pop culture does not agree, then they can kiss our big healthy unbound feet!!  (As we dance right on by!)

Now go out there and live like the vibrant, beautiful woman you are! 

And a tip of the hat to the fine gentlemen who drop by to read, please consider the women in your life.  I’ll bet if you look beyond the pop culture vision, you’ll know the women around you are beautiful.  Tell them so, tell them why you think so, do it today, and please do it often!  (And thank you, Handsome!)

With Love,
Carmen Rose

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