You are what you wear
I am one of many women who face a particular conundrum: we want to be appreciated for our personal qualities and our accomplishments, and at the same time, we love dressing up. Yes, I cannot deny that I like clothes and shoes and make-up and handbags and jewelry. Am I — and the other women who share my passions – pandering to those elements in society that prefer to treat us as sex objects and eye candy?
I had the chance to address this issue when curator Kathleen Reckling invited me to participate in an important exhibition called “SHE: Deconstructing Female Identity.” I selected fifty outfits from my closet, and I brought them to the site of the exhibition – ArtsWestchester Gallery in White Plains, NY. After hanging my clothes on the wall and on a clothes rack, I was ready to present an interactive performance called “You are what you wear.” At the opening reception and on two other occasions, I invited gallery visitors to select different outfits for me to wear. Each time that I changed my clothes, I asked a few people to share their impression of me. I found that these responses varied dramatically, according to the type of clothing that I was wearing. This may not be surprising, but it is worth thinking about! I am the same person, but people will respond to me in radically different ways – according to my attire. These folks are judging a book by its cover!
Ultimately, I believe that “You are not what you wear,” but it can be hard to convince others of this fact.