Tuesday, 23 June 2015

On Books and Covers

There's this certain thing I see that I'm trying to wrap my head around and you'll have to excuse me because I'm not thinking before I type, I'm just typing, and sometimes that can be good and sometimes nothing ends up making any more sense than when it was in my head.

I've spent some time, the last weekend or two, going with Jason to take photographs of some groups/communities of people I wouldn't consider myself a part of.  And that's a whole other story of my nerves and worries but it, combined with gearing up for Burning Man, has me thinking about dress, and how these sort of sub cultures, or whatever you're supposed to call it have their uniforms.  For lack of a better term.

And it's how we call out to each other.  "Hey.  See?  I like the same things you do.  I probably value similar things to you, but for sure, I like what goes along with the people who wear what I'm wearing."  And it's perhaps how we keep ourselves safe.  And keep others away.

And it frustrates me.

It frustrates me because I see a lot of groups who talk about how they're accepting of anyone and everyone and then they're not.

Because if I show up to your event in my plain outfit, I don't look like you.  I don't get a visual scan of approval.  Sure, I can "earn" my way in by being myself, turning out to be a cool/nice/interesting/whatever person, but I'm not "in."

And I know these groups all say that's not how it works, but as an outsider it sure feels like it.

I mean, name yourself a group.  And think about what style or type of dress you'd associate with them.  What outfit?  What gear?  Accessories?  Colours maybe even?

I was explaining to Jason that it happens just the same at Burning Man.  Or at least it feels to me that it does.

If you're interested in the electronic I don't even know the correct term EDM? (electronic dance music, yes?) music you have your styles, your fashions, and sure, I could go see those DJs or performances in my plain white t-shirt and plain jeans, but I'm somehow "not getting it."

Or the peace loving, yoga doing, love and accept everyone type of folk have their gear.  Their style.  Their way of indicating to each other here... here I am, and I'm one of you.  We can be comfortable with each other.

Which is frustrating.  Because I just want to be seen for who I am, not how I've chosen to dress myself.  Because, at Burning Man, for example, I don't have the "earth child" gear, or the "mad max" gear (which, oh man, I bet there'll be an extra ton of it this year) and let's be honest, I don't even really have the "wear whatever you want to represent who you are inside" because I feel like I have to look a certain way and I don't know what that way is and I don't know how to find those items and I don't know if they'd suit me and I don't know how they'd feel in August in the desert in Nevada.

But it's the same here.  Jason took me to an event this weekend where he knew everyone.  It was a music show and he talked about how these folks were all very open and accepting and you just had to be cool and you'd be accepted and I said before we went that that's not how it works.  Humans don't work that way.  Sub groupings of humans don't work that way and we talked the other night and he said, yeah, I was watching and maybe we're not as accepting of anyone/everyone as I thought.

No, you're not, because if you were, you wouldn't take so much care in how you present yourselves.  You wouldn't feel the need to look a certain way to "represent."

I'm sure there are sociological studies around this.  I'm sure I'm not the first person to notice/experience it.  And I'm sure that sometimes the exclusion is accidental.  After all, you are a group of people getting together to share and celebrate something you all love, and the advertising of that love most often shows up in the way we decorate ourselves by dress, hair, makeup, etc.

But man it upsets me.  Because I want to go get drunk with those Mad Max hardcore flame throwing dusty guys.  And I want to have sweet, loving, humans are awesome hugs with the hippy yoga earth loving people.  And I see their eyes pass over me because I don't look the way "they" do.

Which, I suppose begs the question, how do *I* look?

And not to fit in with anyone, but to feel how I feel inside me, do I have to wear particular things to show my allegiance?  To show that I'd be more into staring at the stars than going to an electronic music dance party?  Is it necessary to visually shout out to people at Burning Man who I align with?

It may be.  Sort of.

But what about the rest of the time.

Did I think about what I would wear when Jason took me to shoot these events?  You bet your bottom dollar I did.  But I didn't try to imitate or fit in.  I tried to be neutral, with perhaps a slight hint.

When I'm here, I just want to be comfortable and look good.  When I'm in Black Rock City?  I want to feel like I'm me, and that I look good, and some other complicated things that I don't really know how to explain or even quite yet understand.

But yeah.  The whole "don't judge a book by its cover"?

Can we just admit that we fully do?


Blogger Jason Langlois said...

It's not a new observation, but it's a very true observation.

I've also noticed that groups that talk about their tolerance and inclusiveness a lot ... seem to be pretty intolerant and exclusive, when you turn out to have even a little disagreement with them.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015 8:55:00 am  
Blogger Victoria said...

Another fair point.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015 7:46:00 pm  

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