A year ago, almost to the day, I had my shoulder length blond hair shaved off. It was one of the most freeing experiences I have ever had. I didn’t know what I would look like with a bald head (Or actually buzzed, as my friend used a #2 razor) but I didn’t care. I had to do it. I was so tired of seeing women in the media (and elsewhere) objectified for their appearance. “Portia Di Rossi cut off her ‘signature’ locks,” “Charlize Theron shaved off her gorgeous blond hair.” Why is this news? Why aren’t these amazing, strong, intelligent women talked about for their talent, their character? Why is the front page on Yahoo, the cover of magazines in the supermarket always about a woman’s appearance? Why is society so hellbent on judging people based on their looks?
The Bald and the Beautiful from Kristine Schomaker on Vimeo.
A couple months ago, I blogged about an experience I had in the parking lot at work. I was leaning in my car to get something, and an older man looking for a parking spot stopped right in front of my car and said “Hey man, are you leaving?” I stood up and he said, “Oh sorry, lady.” I posted this story on Facebook and had a lively discussion. This weekend my mom and step dad came to visit me and see my new loft. We were talking and this particular post came up. My mom didn’t know if she should tell me or not, but she was sad and hurt that someone mistook me, her daughter, for a man. She didn’t want to see me go through that. I explained to her that that is exactly why I shaved my head. I want to change people’s perception/perspective. She didn’t think this was possible. I told her that I know I can’t change everyone’s way of thinking but even if I change one person that is a start. This is what my work is about and I realized my life is one big performance art piece.
I want to empower others to be themselves and surpass the medias expectations of physical beauty. I love this quote by the late Margaret Kilgallen “Often I feel like so much emphasis is put on how (physically) beautiful you are, and how thin you are, and not a lot of emphasis is put on what you can do and how smart you are. I’d like to change that, change the emphasis of what’s important when looking at a woman.”
For the last year, I have continued to get my hair buzzed. I have gone back and forth between letting it grow 1/2 an inch and getting it bleached, letting it grow out then getting it buzzed off again. I was going to grow it out a bit, then I overheard a conversation a couple people were having about their looks and thought, yep, time to get it buzzed again.
People obsess over their looks. They spend hundreds and thousands of dollars to look younger, thinner, muscular, ‘beautiful’? What happened to growing old ‘gracefully’ and being yourself? I think people get caught up in trying to impress others. If someone doesn’t like you because of how you look, they aren’t worth knowing. Now I am not saying, don’t dress up, wear makeup, do your hair, etc. Do these things for you. Not because the magazine tells you you will find a sugar daddy if you wear their product. Be yourself, be strong, intelligent, creative for you. Be happy.
I totally admit, I am still trying to wrap my head around the complexities of beauty, identity, labels, etc. My art, my work involves my avatar from the virtual world of Second Life. I have always said, my avatar Gracie is my ideal self. Deconstructing that one little statement, I am saying that I am not ideal, I am not perfect. Gracie is the person I want to be. Doesn’t that totally go against everything I have said above? I am a 5’4″ curvy, overweight woman. My ‘ideal’ self, my avatar, is 6′ tall, blond curly hair, thin, bigger breasts and long legs. She can wear anything she wants to and look great. She attracts a lot of men. For my Masters Thesis, I did a performance where I changed into my avatar. I had my hair done like her, dressed like her, got my nose pierced and make-up done.
Yes, I want to be attractive, beautiful, sexy. I want to date guys and get attention. But I don’t want to adhere to society’s/medias conditions for beauty. I don’t want to kneel to their level and change who I am. Why do I have to have long blond hair, big breasts or a big butt? Maybe that means I will be single for the rest of my life. If that is so, so be it. Maybe that means I will be happy the rest of my life…LOL
Maybe this is all just one long performance art piece where I am keeping the dialogue going and challenging society’s perceptions of beauty. Beauty is more than a magazine cover. Beauty is more than skin deep. Beauty is your character, your personality, your attitude, your behavior and your intelligence. Beauty is your smile. You are beautiful. I am beautiful. Everything else is irrelevant.
I almost forgot to mention… keep an eye out for a new performance art piece I am planning… it may involve nudity 😀
I just have to find a venue for it!!