Speaking of glitter...
Frida Kahlo's closet was recently opened after 58 years. There's an exhibit at the Frida Kahlo Museum in Mexico City, called "Appearances Can Be Deceiving: The Dresses of Frida Kahlo." It's not just dresses on display, though--there were all kinds of personal items in the closet, and some are in the exhibit: sunglasses, shoes, a purse. The exhibit is built around the themes of "ethnicity and disability," according to this article. Here's a boot Frida Kahlo wore on her weaker leg (she'd had polio as a child, and survived a severe traffic accident):
Frida Kahlo was a painter and also a serious fashionista. I fell in love with her when I was in high school. She was a woman artist of color who was around in the 20s and 30s, my favorite time period then, and still one of my favorites now. The other person I sort of identified with was Josephine Baker, but mostly because people told me I looked like her. (And there was and always is Zora Neale Hurston, who has had and will have her own posts.) But it was Frida Kahlo who really absorbed me, I think because she was so fierce and dedicated in her work and because she did not joke about her clothes. She made herself in her own image. And thinking about this today, I'm reminded of a lecture I missed, one that a colleague told me about, where people were talking about Gayatri Spivak and somebody, a professor, a man, sneered: "Well what she says changes with what she's wearing." Or something like that. And I was really outraged and thought, I wish I'd been there! I would have said, excuse me, WHAT does it matter what Gayatri Spivak wears? But to be honest, I am a little curious.
Is this what he's talking about? Does it really make a difference? Where is the research on that? Is it offensive even to think about that kind of research? Does the idea just do more damage, I mean, a woman in academia, actually successful on the highest level, and then you talk about her clothes? Or is there a way to be interested in this that is, obviously, different from the way it was being used in the lecture I missed? If we agree that it matters what you wear, then is the best approach to pretend that it doesn't, to preserve everyone from embarrassment? What do we miss by doing that? Where is the body? The body in the clothes, the body that dresses, the body that thinks, the body that paints, the body that writes.