This week I have been thinking about women in space. Not outer space, I mean how much space women take up. I have been thinking about this ever since writing “Thank God for Ronda Rousey”. To revisit this idea, it astonishes me how much it astonishes me that Ronda Rousey owns her space, evidenced by the way she takes her seat during her interview with Jimmy Kimmel like a warrior woman on her throne. It astonishes me that I have NEVER seen another woman own her space like Ronda Rousey.
And yet, I never notice when men take up space this way. They spread their legs (now notoriously in subways in NYC) and arms. They sit in a chair on television like they own that chair. They naturally take the space that is given to them. And why the hell not? Of course they do. But why don’t woman do this? Watch woman on television and everywhere in real life and you notice that we are constantly shrinking in on ourselves. So much so that we don’t even notice it. Legs crossed, arms crossed, and shoulders shrunk in.
In extreme and all to common ways, this manifests itself in obsessive physical deprivation to shrink away in space. Lily Myers knocks it out of the ballpark sharing her personal story with this in “Shrinking Woman”. All the women in her family are shrinking, physically and emotionally, and she is caught watching and learning from the women her life, emulating and perpetuating the cycle. We have to fight our urge to not take up space.
This idea has invaded my head and all week I’ve been catching myself shrinking in the space I am in on the phone, in a meeting, at a photo shoot, writing emails. Slumping my shoulders, crossing my legs, folding my neck and arms in. What the heck? And the physical symptoms of this play out in the way I talk to people, the emails I write, the way I walk. I see it everywhere. By Thursday I found my anger and frustration, yelling to a friend on our walk, “I have had ENOUGH. I am tired of shrinking. I am going to take up F-ING SPACE. I DESERVE TO TAKE UP SPACE.”
So you may be thinking, “Here she goes again, veering way far away from apparel.” I promise this has a point. Riding Jacket feature: shoulder pads. I KNOW that woman can take up space, be confident, courageous and brilliant, AND be feminine but I have to fight with that truth. When I design, I design for what I aspire to be. I used to think that women wearing garments with shoulder pads intended to obtain power by emulating the strength men have in their upper body. Perhaps this was true. Now I realize, when done right, they enhance the beauty and curves of a woman’s body. The strong shoulder provides a contrast with the curves at the waist and hips. Power and femininity.