Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Community of Women—Or, Why Post Photos of Our Clothing?

I’m not sure how to answer the question I posed yesterday:  why do people post photos of their clothing? 

But since I asked the question, I’m going to try to answer. 

Remember Jean Albus, the tremendous artist I featured in February?  (If you didn’t see Jean’s art then, please do have a look here.)  Jean’s also known for her self-portraits, and that’s what I want to look at now.


Jean Albus. See lots more of her work on Flickr here. 

Jean has this to say about taking pictures of oneself:  “’I think when you’re alone with the camera things have a tendency to emerge that normally wouldn’t.  What surprised me…was how I came to disregard the image of myself as something personal.’”

“Albus says that the exercise [of doing self-portraits] also illuminated her philosophy on inner beauty—that humor and kindness make an image shine. She stopped posing for the camera and let herself be candid. She laughed wildly. She accepted her face in all its middle-aged details. And when she finally “got over the self-portrait thing,” as she puts it, she was ready to move on to a less literal idea of herself.”  quoted text excerpted from this article by Erika Frederickson in the Missoula Independent. 

Here are some of Jean’s other self-portraits, which I adore (clicking on each photo will take you to Flickr where they are online). 

soulmadeofgrass jean6 nomoresecretstoconceal jean5

Now back to why people post clothing photos. 

Many readers commented about this today, and I agree with all those thoughts to some degree.  I’m a regular chica, almost forty-six, navigating transitions in my roles, life style, and body.  You better believe I want affirmation and inspiration.  And I’d rather have it from women than anyone else, thank you very much.  

Most of my friends and I have spent years working in serious pursuits—often surrounded by men—in matters about ecology and money and programs and war and peace and good education.  I’ve spent a long time consumed by this sort of thing.    

But now, at midlife, I finally don’t care if it’s frivolous ALSO to have fun with my clothes and show them to other people.  It’s okay to be impractical, whimsical, colorful, unscheduled even if my inner critic is doing this:      


I like Jean’s words about self-portraits (and I interpret that as clothes as well as one’s face) as a way to grow.  It’s time for the inner critic to be quiet!


Imogen Lamport, AICI CIP said...

I find it interesting that so many people label any thought about clothing as frivolous, yet when you look at the psychology of clothing it runs so much deeper, even down to the survival instinct!

Zuzana said...

I think you answered your own question most perfectly.;) I think the mature woman has a beauty, that escapes the young; the inner beauty that comes from being relaxed in who we are. One that comes from the experiences and the wisdom that only life can bestow upon us.
"The best is yet to come" is such an appropriate phrase at our age, don't you think?;))

Gal Friday said...

Nice to see your "befuddled" countenance, Sally! It truly looks as if you are holding aloft a huge mirror and peering into it.

The WalMart Vegan said...

Beautifully put! I was going to write a post about this on my blog today but I can't say it any better.

Good, bad or otherwise -- my clothes get to be an expression of me and I'm not spending any more years waiting for perfection.

Woman in a Window said...

Now I like this very much. Goes beyond clothes. I can see it now. Recently I took a few photos of myself and I can really understand that there is so much in between the subject and the camera, even if the subject is yourself. Interesting. And yes, her self portraits are amazing. Thanks for that.

A Woman Of No Importance said...

I like that stern, studious pic of you sallymandy - Very interesting, as are those photographer's self-portraits you have showcased.

I am inspired, thank you so much - I am gushing because my OH just gave me a nice second hand digital camera as a gift, and you have given me something to think about, because I really hate pictures of me taken by other people - And perhaps I need to experiment, in order that my grandchildren (when and if I have any, I am 46 this year too...) do realise they had a younger grandmother, and not someone who just arrived fully formed at the age of 60, grey haired and loose of tooth!

Thank you.

Seeker said...

Love this post, I think no one put it better than you.

Love those self-portraits, thank you for sharing!

46 years!? You're a young woman yet!!!!!!!!!!

YEAH for " self-portraits... as a way to grow"

Love your pictures this one is funny, and you have a gorgeous smile and look so beautiful on the one on the side bar!!!!



Eleonora Baldwin said...

Thank you for the Jean Albus portraits, they're something else. And finally we get to see your lovely face, brava!

sallymandy said...

Imogen: I agree with you, though I know that I fight to overcome some deep-seated self-judgment about clothes and frivolity, which I'm sure came out in the post.

Protege: thanks, wise words from a wise woman. I liked what you said on yesterday's post, too.

Gal: The befuddled look comes naturally!

Modest Mom: same for me.

WIW: yes, I'm just starting to have a deeper understanding of all this, and it's pretty fascinating. Thanks for visiting.

WNI (Fhina): I never thought of that about photographing ourselves for our grandkids...but I'm so glad I have pix of my grandparents when they were young. Priceless!

Seeker: Thank you; you're always so generous. Your thoughts on this subject are really valuable.

Thank you Lola! I love Jean's work too. I have a birthday coming up and may buy myself one of her photos. But which one??

Gal Friday said...

Had to come back to look, after reading The Seeker's comment about your other photo on the sidebar. You are indeed beautiful in that one, too(I suppose my comment earlier about your befuddled look didn't come out sounding quite right..). Love your tousled hair, too.

Jean said...

So, thank you for sharing my work in your blog. I love that you are sharing the great relief in being true to oneself inside and out.

Mervat said...

I had been tossing up whether to have a fashion blog for a long time thinking what people would think especially family. Then months after joining blogger I started posting pictures of my clothes only,ie. the choices I had put together and even followed other bloggers' challenges. All along I asked myself why did I not want to be in the photos. Why just put pictures of my clothes up. In the end they are meaningless without me in them. From something as superficial as whether they suited my skin tone to portraying to other bloggers how I felt in them. And, after my 16 year old son took some photos, asking me to 'just have fun mum', I thought, just take your own child's advice. And I am so glad I did. I feel more true to myself since starting my fashion blog than I have ever felt. The best bonus is getting honest feedback from my fellow bloggers. Thank you for this thought provoking post.


Duchesse said...

First, thanks for introducing me to Jean Albus' work.

The bloggers on style that I follow sooner or later face the "is this superficial?" issue, and I did too.

We reassure one another that we are people of substance, capable of running things, and engaged in the Big Issues... who also happen to enjoy shopping (whether in thrifts or elsewhere‚ shake our heads over various fashion "rules" or trends, and want to know what to do with our hair.

Relyn Lawson said...

I find it a fascinating thought. The way you just equated photos of your clothing to a photograph of your face. Some time ago, I might have really disagreed with you. Now, I see your point. Our clothing is a choice we make, the tangible, controllable way we represent ourselves to the world. Interesting ideas you've sparked off in me. I've got to go. I have some pondering to do. Probably some writing, too.