Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Mirror, mirror; me

Amidst the looming stress around me, I have a sense of peace. I do believe that everything is going to be all right. I feel a separation from all that I have been grasping onto; the identity that I once adhered to, is quickly fading.

My first steps on this road began when I began to explore my identity. This project has taken me down a road that I have been longing to travel, yet have been afraid to explore. During these past few months, I realize that I have been running away from myself. For nine years, I have been avoiding the recognition of my own identity. I have been searching and striving to find the perfect version of myself, the ideal representation of self, the one that will be best accepted by society, and even, by the ones I love. Blonde to brunette, side swept to full bangs, unmarked skin to a tattoo, shy to comfortable, afraid to peace—so many changes are taking place since the decision to return to me.

Who have I been trying to be—what identities have I been adopting; what have I been hiding behind?

I realize I have been living in fear. I have been harboring a deep fear that came as a result of my fragile existence behind the facades I created. I was constantly afraid they were transparent, so I kept running, striving, pretending, out of fear that if I paused too long, people might actually see me, or if someone came too close they would see behind that which I used to hide. I was a scared soul, afraid of myself, trying to fool the outside world. And all the while, deceiving myself.

Where did this come from? For nine years, I have been here, or I have been there, successfully hiding from myself, existing, camouflaged in the world. I am beginning to experience freedom and peace as I slowly return to myself. "Love your neighbor as yourself," I realize I need to love myself as neighbor, as I have been under the influence, and unable to see, me as I am, fearing that others will judge me just as harshly as I judge myself.

How did this all begin—why did I start hiding? I initiated the fabrication of this facade in junior high. This was the time when I became self aware, and it was the time that held the initial creation of the internal image I have been comparing myself to. Like most American junior-high-age girls, I developed an image that defined beauty. Beauty to me looked like my friend—Lauren R; the tall, skinny, blonde, outgoing, athletic, cheerleader, who captured the hearts of every boy in our class. I can now admit, I wanted to be her—or at least look just like her. But I did not. I was short, not incredibly thin, brunette, with bangs, and shy. I was the opposite of her, yet we shared the same name. She, in my mind, was the beautiful Lauren, and I was the other.

Validating this perspective of what I was beginning to believe was the idealization of beauty, were the fashion magazines that I allowed to saturate my life. Recognizing a consistent definition of beauty that surfaced amongst the various publications, I adopted the belief that the social ideal was one that aligned with the characteristics of my friend. I did not possess anything that remotely aligned with this definition of beauty, and therefore, grew to despise my appearance, and slowly, my entire self.

The transformation began. My mission to achieve beauty began the summer before I began sixth grade. I was determined to be beautiful, and this meant that much needed to change. I was going to be attractive, and therefore, I was going to be blonde, I was going to be tan, I was going to be thin—I was going to become the beautiful Lauren.

Nine years I have been working to maintain this identity, fooling the world and disguising myself. For nine years I have been striving to uphold this image of beauty, until I realized what I had been struggling to uphold, and upon deciding to let go, I am watching it shatter.
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Recently, I made the decision to begin the long walk home. I have awoken to the realization that I had been running away from myself, avoiding the recognition of who I am. I feel as though I had been held in captivity, under the intoxicating influence of the fashion industry, and the definition of beauty that is communicated. This definition was one that I did not naturally fit, and therefore felt irrelevant, and which led to a deteriorated sense of self. This project, and the research I have been conducting for the past six months has been a restorative journey for my soul.
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I am once again brunette. I once again have bangs. I am not struggling to be this person I am not—I am no longer being crushed by the weight of the false definition I have been trying to live into. I am defining my own.

It is easier now, to get dressed each morning, as I am not trying to pick the perfect costume to hide behind, I am simply dressing for the role of myself. I ask myself who I am, and wait for the answer. The voices are beginning to quiet, and I am listening to my heart—to the definition of beauty in which God has created me.
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I had the realization this past week, that my capstone project will not change the world. I can not break the entire system of monarchy we live within; I can not liberate our nation from the control. But, I can choose to be free. I can step into anarchy and choose to fight against the dictatorial control that I have allowed the fashion industry to have upon my life.

I may not be able to change the world with this project, but it has changed mine.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Storybook beginning

Again. Another change. Again, I have developed a new idea. This is the challenge I combat that so often prevents me from moving forward. This indecisive mind that sees possibility, and this passionate soul that sprints so quickly in the new direction, and these eyes that are intrigued by all that is around me.

My most recent and exciting change was inspired by the film, American Beauty. I have realized that the issue I am combating is so much larger than something a poster will impact. I want to encourage people to think, but I do not feel prepared to put this into the world yet. The most powerful thing I think I can do right now is to collect and record all that I have been researching, observing and inquiring about during these past few months.

I am going to make a book.

I want to tell a story—I want to reveal the stronghold that the messages communicated by the fashion industry have upon our society and the power they have in shaping our definition of beauty. I have been impacted so intensely by this research, that I want to write a book that records my thoughts and findings.

I was beginning to lose heart, with the realization that my guerilla marketing campaign was not going to be enough to change the world.

This, I am passionate about.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Revealing anger

I have reached a point with this project, I am fueled by something more powerful now. It has, as I've mentioned, gone past personal. Now I'm fueled by anger.

The impact that the fashion industry has upon our society is outrageous—it is the leading cause of mental illness through eating disorders. What is this? Why is it happening? Why are we allowing it?

A 300 billion dollar industry as the source of this insanity. People are dying, people are in bondage, people are controlled by mental anguish—and for what? They are just clothes.

What have we done

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Our journey continues

Hello dear Friends!
Thank you for joining me thus far on my adventure of inquiry. It has been a long road, and the journey continues. Although maintaining the same quest, I am traveling a new path...

I have created another blog, which is the result of the thoughts and dialogue that has occurred in this space. I will still post my inquiries here occasionally as well, but my main focus, after these months of research and analysis, is on the final product that is now finally taking shape.

Please join me in this as well, http://canvasofwhite.tumblr.com/

Be ready to question your definition of identity—I look forward to hearing your thoughts + insights. Hoping to hear from you soon!

Monday, May 3, 2010

True influence

What am I influenced by?

Well obviously the monarchy. But how—how am I influenced?

I have been battling for longer than this project. Being a woman, I believe it started when I was began elementary school and started interacting with others, realizing that the external sources had influence, and that I was therefore influence-able.

I remember when one of my friends told me that my dress made me look pregnant. I was in third grade. I was mortified. Yes, it must have been sometime in elementary school when I became aware of my clothing and how it made me look.

This is it.
'How it made me...' that phrase, this is the problem. It didn't make me anything. I existed independently from it. I did before I wore it, I did after, and I do now.

So today, what am I influenced by. What have I bought and why? What are the stories?

This will be an interesting look...

Heart of the anarchist

This project became painful the moment it became personal.

Although, thinking of it now, it has always been personal for me. What happened then? Why is it seemingly more difficult right now for me to move on this? Why am I afraid to act upon the plans I have developed thus far?

Maybe it's because I realize how much am still controlled by the monarchy. This realization has me afraid of the very anarchy I propose—the very thing I have been encouraging to take hold is the source of fear I am experiencing now.

I wish it weren't this way.

If I could I wish I could just be analytical about this, and logical even. I wish I could simply set out and accomplish the task before me. I can, and I have to. I will, but this project has been infused with emotion.

I need to channel this. This passion, this emotion, this fear, this anger, I need to channel it to result in progress. I have been making progress, but not taking action.

Today, I will.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Freedom of speech

I have designed the cards for the guerilla campaign and now just need to find a way to print them and gather a group of brave friends to help me embark upon this mission.

I have to be careful in how I go about attempting this, as some have fear that I might be doing something illegal. I do not really see how this is illegal, as all I am doing is encouraging thought by posing questions of inquiry. How could this be illegal... does it not fall into the category of freedom of speech under the First Amendment? I am not defacing property, or vandalizing merchandise, I am just asking questions.

Okay. I just looked up the definitions of vandalism, defacement, and hooligan—none of which my mission or myself align with. I checked the laws regarding vandalism, and I feel that the only account for which I might be possibly charged is the decrease of economic gain. This though, is not my intent. All I am attempting to achieve through this campaign is to ignite thought—to make people pause in their moment of purchase and actually question where their current belief of fashion came from. I want to make people wonder how their belief was developed and think about who it was that told them what was or was not beautiful.

Is this illegal? I think not.