Ohmygoddess on high.
Those of you reading who do not know me well yet, and who haven’t been my good friends throughout my reinventions of myself over the past 30 years, will not appreciate this as much as those who do know me well, including all my self-reinventions. Which does not at all mean you won’t appreciate this!
Feminists should love this project! I cannot imagine why we would not! It is the best! And fundie women, all kinds of fundie, will love it! And progressive, socially conscious women! Around this project, so many women can enjoy a thoroughly satisfying group hug!
Alex Martin, the woman who is the subject of this post, is beyond a woman after my own heart! She rocks! She rules! I cannot say enough good things about her and her project! I also cannot believe I did not hear of this project until today on my busride home from work, when I read about it in the Seattle Times. And most of all, I cannot believe I didn’t think of this project myself! It’s so obvious! It’s perfect! It’s brilliant!
Alex Martin’s project? (And, as she describes it, “performance”)? She designed, made and wore one dress for 365 days straight. Every single day. She designed it with the idea that it would work alone, would be comfortable, durable, reasonably cute, would work when she was dancing (she is a dancer), gardening, cleaning, taking care of her baby, would work spring, summer, winter, and fall.
Here is the “mission statement” she wrote one year ago, when, on her birthday, she began wearing her dress:
I am making one small, personal attempt to confront consumerism by refusing to change my dress for 365 days.
In this performance, I intend to reject our sweat-shop-supporting economy of over-consumption, and the bill of goods that has been sold, especially to women, about what makes a person good, attractive and interesting. Clothes are certainly part of this image, and the expectation is immense. The economic resources required to regularly purchase newly-manufactured clothing in retail stores are staggering – a hundred dollars for one new shirt?
As a brand new working mom with a new family budget, these economies are coming sharply into focus for me. Even my beloved second-hand shopping requires time, effort, and energy that saps my attention from the more vital parts of my life – being with my family, making artwork, tending the garden, growing my community, keeping a watchful eye on the government, reading new books, learning new skills, singing new songs . . . I intend to make good use of my energy saved!
Influences – The project is influenced in part by the art/anti-fashion movement “Grey Sweatsuit Revolution”, in which participants attend a social event or public gathering wearing un-flattering sweatsuits as a statement against fashion trends and dictums. It is also inspired by my view of our brothers and sisters who are citizens of the third-world, many of whom literally do not have a change of clothes. Historically, I am bolstered and supported by the generations of human beings living in every part of the world before the industrial revolution, who wore day after day, year after year, only what they or their family members could weave, sew, or knit by hand.
For those of you who have known me for some years, this is real and true “simple living,” as I have believed in it, and taught it to thousands of women, and lived it myself, however imperfectly. This is “what do I have in my hand?” personified. This is beautiful, responsible, and so, so freeing. If you read Alex Martin’s journal, her journey is the journey of all women who — in whatever way it happens, including via patriarchal religious systems — find themselves free of concerns about clothes, fashion, how they measure up, their own personal appearance. Projects like this, entered into voluntarily as opposed to imposed, coerced and enforced — a whole ‘nother kettle of fish — can free us from looksism. They are a way through, and out, of patriarchal beauty standards. Lived out day by day, they are consciousness-raising like no other.
Well, you owe it to yourself to read Alex Martin’s journal of her 365-day journey. On her birthday, coming right up, she is taking off her dress in a performance that is open to the public.