This is a follow-up post to my post on the phrase ‘real bodies.’
I’ve noticed a big trend lately for loving your body = revealing your body.
You see it in shows like “How to Look Good Naked”, where women who hide their body under baggie clothes learn to celebrate it by doing a ‘boudoir’ photoshoot that is displayed on large screens in public places. It’s a big part of the burlesque community, where you celebrate yourself by taking your clothes off.
And these are fine, and there is something great to be said for anything that helps women to feel comfortable with who they are, but I’m not entirely comfortable with their message, both for personal reasons, and in a wider societal context.
Personally, I’m quite a private person. I don’t really tell people what’s going on with my life. I hold new people at a distance until I really assess my character. I hide my privacy in real life, and on the blog, with ‘public’ stories. It’s amazing how people think they know you if you mention that you just had a dreadful cold, hate fringe and tell them what a merkin is. ;-)
Along with being private, I’m private about my body. I feel funny showing you fitting photos where I reveal my stomach. I almost always wear surf shorts over a swimsuit. I wear tunics over pants, not leggings, and avoid tight jersey clothes. This isn’t about not liking my body (well, mostly), this is about feeling that my body is mine. It’s private. It’s like my private thoughts and feelings: I only want to share them with people I really know, and like (and of course I like you guys, but who knows who else is on the internet ).
So that’s my personal reason for preferring to dress a bit more modestly.
In a wider societal context, I see the trend to promote loving your body through showing it off as part of a bigger emphasis on sexualising women: on our worth being based on how alluring, and available, we make our bodies. Once again, it bases our perception of worth around our bodies on how other people view them.
I can see this movement having real value when it helps a woman who has never seen herself as alluring and desirable to feel that way, and to experience that about herself. At the same time, I think its very important not to focus on ‘sexy’, on ‘alluring and desirable’ as the most important attributes of a woman. We’re so much more than that, and any movement that can’t get that across, and can’t celebrate all those other things, is selling us short. Because I want all women to feel that they can love themselves, even without being sexy.
I’m not advocating dressing like a Quaker from 1840: sometimes focusing on dressing non-sexually and modestly can put just as much emphasis on it as taking everything off. Both are about how the outside world sees you: not how you feel about yourself. I’m advocating taking control of your own body, and celebrating what it is, in any way that makes you feel comfortable.
So I’m going to wear things that make me happy. Skirts that end below the knees (though I got quite brave in Oz and bought two dresses that end above the knees). Necklines that dip quite low, because I don’t have enough bosom to feel sexualized and ‘revealing’ in décolleté. Surf shorts over my one-piece swimsuits. And I’m wearing them for me. Because they make me love my body.
And those are my thoughts on dress and revealing your body.
I have a hard time writing posts like this, because they are very revealing about me. They break my privacy barrier. But while I don’t think that the only way for women to celebrate themselves is through sexualising their image, I do think that it is important to learn to celebrate yourself by trusting the world and showing them who you really are. So this is me taking off my metaphorical privacy sarong. Please ignore the mental cellulite.
I had a lovely time on the super holiday, relaxing part of our Australia holiday, but the real highlight of the trip for me was getting to meet fellow blogger Steph, the genius behind 3 Hours Past the Edge of the World.
Steph and I on the farm in our version of grubby casual vintage
I’ve been following Steph’s blog for at least two years now: ever since she started commenting on mine in fact (side note – I try to check every blog that gets linked to mine in a comment, and most of them I end up following).
Steph’s blog fascinates me because we have so much in common, and some very distinct differences, both as people, and as seamstresses. We are both expat Americans with antipodean husbands. We’re about the same age, and have been married and in the Southern Hemisphere for about the same time. We both teach and sew, and share a love of vintage styles, and for making vintage styles work in a modern context. We also share a belief in sharing: in making our knowledge as accessible as possible.
At the same time, our knowledge and practice are quite different in some ways: I’m a very unscientific, un-technical, intuitive seamstress, whereas Steph knows all the the formulas, all the technical tricks, and figures out her sewing in such a precise mathematical fashion. I just guess and feel how patterns should go together: she knows.
Steph described herself as being ‘star-struck’ meeting me (awwwwww!), but the feeling was definitely mutual – her knowledge is so precise, and she’s so up-to-date on the sewing world, and not afraid to innovate and try things. Despite being in total awe, I felt instantly comfortable with Steph – we chattered away like magpies for the whole afternoon, and looked at the same fabrics and patterns and wrinkled our noses or drooled in mutual aversion or appreciation. I didn’t feel like I needed to hold back for even a minute – she’s definitely a kindred spirit!
Only a truly awesome person would do silly poses right after meeting!
Meeting Steph in person I realised we have so much more in common: so many things that we don’t share on our blogs, or that the internet can’t quite convey. We also have so much to teach each other, and share.
The whole experience really made it clear to me how amazing the blogging community is, and how much it has done for me. I learn so much every day from the comments you leave, and from reading other people’s blogs, and when I am lucky enough to meet other bloggers. We all have so much to offer the world, and when we get together and share ideas it magnifies the output so much.
Steph and I developed some amazing ideas for future projects that I’m sure you will be super excited about, and talking to her helped me to clarify some things I am working on, and and thinking about. So watch out – total awesomeness now coming as a result of this trip! (and also hopefully totally awesome Steph coming to Wellington for a visit – I can’t wait to show her where I live and work and the things I love!)
After an afternoon at Steph’s, checking out her sewing room and wandering to the local fabric store where I discovered Kokka fabrics and consequently spent a bit more money than I had planned to on gorgeous cotton linen blends with adorable bird prints, we headed down the coast to her parents-in-law’s organic farm.
Also, Steph's daughter may be the world's cutest child.
It was paradise. I was in heaven. The middle of nowhere – ducks, chickens, cows, goats, horses, frogs in the semi-outdoor shower – it couldn’t get any better. I’m such a country girl!
I’m going to tell you all about the farm with photos in a few days, but this post was getting too long, because I’m just too excited, and have too much to talk about, and think about!
We’re back! And Australia was very interesting, and not at all scary (except for their love of polyester, which was very alarming!), and most enjoyable.
The first part of my holiday was pure, brainless holiday: sleeping in, long walks on the beach, visiting national parks, etc.
Mr Dreamy on the coast
The dreamstress by the sea
Being me, I was most interested in and excited by the wildlife. We saw birds and beasts and bugs and it was all most excellent.
Right outside our hotel their was a baby myna bird in a lauhala (pandanus) tree, cheeping like mad and making his parents constantly scurry for bugs to feed him.
Spoiled little myna-bird
Further away, in the parks in the hinterland (anything 15 minutes drive from the coast!), there were birds that had found an easier way to get food: just bug the humans for it!
Female bush turkey. Common as muck.
It was most disgruntled to find I was offering it a leaf. You aren't allowed to feed them.
There were also more attractive birds that didn’t remind you quite so much of rats or pigeons.
Kookabura sitting in a...(well, I don't know what it is, but it's not a gum tree)
Then the beasts:
A shy little pachymelon
We were extremely privileged to see not one, but seven pachymelon, which are miniature rainforest wallaby (and wallaby are miniature kangaroos). Pacymelon are very shy and solitary, and hide in the trees, so are quite hard to see. We saw two mothers with joeys just out of their pouches, which was particularly lovely.
I was so thrilled and excited to see the pachymelon, and thought that would be our highlight. At the visitor centre I was told that I wouldn’t see wildlife outside of a zoo – there was no-where to go for herds of kangaroo (OK, I don’t think that is the proper collective noun), except the zoo. How dull. How touristy. But we drove out to a secret valley in search of a permaculture centre, and what did we find?
Herds of kangaroos!
Well, not herds, as the proper collective noun is actually court (what a great collective noun!).
Kneeling roo grazing a few metres from me!
While I communed with the courts of kangaroos and acclimated to the distinctive stinky-curry smell they have, Mr D had a nap.
Mr D with lantana flowers
I woke him up by sprinkling lantana flowers all over him.
I also saw a koala up a tree, but couldn’t get a photo of it. And later in the trip I saw a water dragon. I almost stepped on it! But it ran away before I got my camera out to take a photo. And I didn’t scream!
In addition to things that flew and hopped and scurried and crawled, we saw some spectacularly beautiful scenery (taking into account that what appeals to me is quite bucolic and gentle and pastoral).
The Glass-House Mountains stick up from the coast
Hayley mentioned that one of the loveliest things in Brisbane this time of year are the jacarandas. They were even lovelier in the country up the Sunshine Coast
Jacarandas and gold & silver trees are two of my favourite things
Pretty pretty jacarandas
There were also staghorn ferns, which remind me of my childhood. I climbed a tree and made Mr D get a picture of me with one.
Look at my fern!
In a few days I’ll tell you about the rest of the trip, the best part, where I got to meet Steph and share creative ideas.
And that was the holiday. It was hot and sunny and lovely and I want to go back (but maybe in the winter when it isn’t so hot).
I still don’t want to go to the outback though!