In my post yesterday, I mentioned that I’ve been experiencing a bit of a writer’s block lately. So this morning I decided to start a new project as a way of unclogging the creative pathways. A week or so ago, I came up with the idea of doing a series of self-portraits with something written to go along with each one. The goal was (and is) to give tangible form to parts of myself that tend to remain at least partly veiled. My queer self, for example, is given free expression within the fictional and poetic realms but not so much outside of those. My masculine and feminine selves are often at least somewhat obscured by a layer of what is socially expected. And so on. By creating the self-portraits, I hope to push myself beyond those boundaries.
I went shopping yesterday to perhaps find some things that might better express who I am today. I didn’t find too much during that little excursion though my antipathy toward glittery, faux-feminine clothing remains intact. But as I made my way through the store aisles, I decided that I wanted the theme of my first self-portrait to be “never too late”. As in: it’s never too late to fully embrace who you are.
Because here’s the thing. I’m the person who put aside creative pursuits in order to build a career and attain the financial success that my family wanted me to have. To prove that I wasn’t a disappointment. I’m the person who ultimately put aside significant relationships in order to avoid the disapproval that my choice of partner would have garnered. I’m that one, the one who followed the expectations and saved any emotional life for my dogs. Yikes. Yet here I am, at 62, opening up about who I am and in a public forum no less. So no, it’s never too late to embrace yourself.
Anyway, here is self-portrait number one. I chose the clothing deliberately because it so contradicts what I was exposed to as a child. When I was growing up, I learned that older women were expected to be sober and dull in both behavior and appearance. Long hair was not “appropriate” for mature women. Fashionable was okay as long as it was kind of staid and stuffy. I’m very thankful to be aging at a time when those types of expectations have gone by the wayside and women like me can wear whatever. And hopefully one day, those who come after me will be aging in a time when how you live and who you love are no longer measures of success but simply aspects of a life well and fully lived.
(Vanity note to self: perhaps a little eye make-up for the next one. And make sure to straighten the sunglasses again after shooing off the canine interloper. LOL!)