Tuesday, April 7, 2015

My Conundrum

    I have made it my project, as you know, to present the idea of Attire as a language, one we all speak every day, whether we are consciously aware of it or not.  And I am really committed to that idea.  I see it bear out in real time terms around me, every day. So, insofar as that is a truth, I can move forward with pleasure, and try to help others to understand this wildly complex thing we do.
    But, there is another aspect to all of this, a darker, less savory aspect of which I am fully aware, that makes this commitment hard at times to move forward with.  Its the inescapable reality that this language does not get to be fully spoken by everyone, for reasons of economics, and socialization.  As well, the whole huge edifice that is the apparel industry, with all its satellite industries, like jewelry, make up, and all manner of accessories, deliberately edge many people as far from the conversation as possible.  And finally, the massive advertizing industry has no desire whatever to present ideas of physical beauty that refer to reality as it exists in the world.  The industry is still rife with racism, sexism, agism, and body shaming.

     That said, I find myself then, holding opposing views.  On the one hand I see quite clearly that this language functions, and operates every moment of every day as a semiotic method of communication, that works wordlessly, and tirelessly, to help us understand each other better.  I see also that that same language gets used to categorize, and sideline many people, because of the very words they have chosen to express themselves.   And I see too, that nearly everything about this Attire language as it manifests within the structure of modern retailing, is not about making people more beautiful, or allowing them greater expressive freedom, its about profit, regardless of whether those other goals get tended to at all or not.
     So, it is hard, at time, for me to stay fully engaged with this byzantine visual tongue I call Attire.  I want to be able to address all of us, but I cannot.  I want to bring everyone into the conversation, but that's impossible because the culture we live in excludes huge numbers of people for entirely arbitrary reasons.  People get excluded because they don't fit the narrow paradigm of acceptability, or they aren't influential enough, or wealthy enough, or talented enough, to get a pass.  
    So, if I sometimes seem to be contradicting myself, this is why.  I am completely aware of how internally opposed the motivations that drive the Attire language are.  Yet, I cannot simply walk away from this thing that is clearly of such importance to us all, even if it is one of the chief causes of distress for workers, and one of the greatest polluters on the planet.  Perhaps its because I am at heart a positive thinker.  I want so much for us to win through, so I will continue to try and find ways for us to make this system work more for us, than against us.
    That's my pledge for myself, and to you.

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