June 19, 2016

On a train to Bar

Conversations, Inspiration

It’s been a while since I’ve been meaning to write this text. But as the cauldron of emotional whiplashes I’ve personified in these past weeks, I simply couldn’t. I postponed.

The thing is, postponing had become a huge part of my life in the past year and a half. I postponed exercising until I couldn’t recognize my own shapes; I postponed talking to my therapist about one of my major dilemmas; I postponed that difficult conversation (and boy, did I); I postponed saying what I really felt and wanted; I postponed my physical need to move on.

I’m currently on a train from Belgrade to Bar, in the coast of Montenegro, it’s an 11-hour journey so I guess I’m allowed to divert myself from the spectacular landscape and from the Serbian travellers, with whom I’m sharing the train booth, to spend some time in front of this “dull” screen, as someone well pointed out.

When I left Belgrade this morning something big struck me, right there, in the middle of my chest, in that part where eating and breathing become one. And it hurt like hell, damn it still does. Walking to the station was a torture and this train journey has been one of the most difficult I’ve ever gone in my “sheltered life” – my “life” here characterized by that same someone. I entered this train feeling suffocated, and because of so much deferment, I’d had enough. As I’m travelling alone I get asked all-the-time: “why alone? Why?? What’s the purpose?”

Yesterday and the day before I unloaded, heavily, and it was pretty ugly, but also incredibly beautiful and rich. It was confusing and it took me a 10K cycling by the Sava to get rid of some of the heavy baggage I brought with me from my now “old life” in London. I had that heavy energy with me and maybe even my body might have been heavier these past few days. I craved cigarettes; I craved things I never craved before. The sweet and sour scent of a poignant sweat and smoky hands suddenly began to taste too good. The Serbs smoke like there’s no tomorrow and cigarettes are cheaper than chocolate.

I might have hurt someone in my path to self-discovery, and if I did I am deeply and honestly and full-heartedly sorry. I too am hurt, because I did it without noticing and without intent. Because sometimes our best weapon is our weakest and, it backfires. Sometimes the most awkward situation becomes the most delightful of moments, sometimes pleasure has no name, it comes without warning, and desire can be self-consuming. Desire for the new, for the old-new, for that damn cigarette, for whom I’ve always been and always wanted: myself

A desire that becomes lustful, and might inadvertently result in intense masturbation; a desire that sees no boundaries when expressing itself to the world. This desire, beware, it puts you in the strangest of places: I looked like a fool, like a 16-year old version of myself, so naïve. I had no make-up on, but wore mascara for three days – craving darkened eyes… – my tongue had no limits, its anatomy doing what it does best: to explore. And this alien language that is Serbian, how deeply it touched the hesitant pulsing of my little “srce”. Because I am small, I am puny; I am a grain of sand compared to the vastness that is this ancient landscape outside the train window. And how tiny did I feel when wandering around the puzzling buildings that make Belgrade what it is: a never-ending brick-over-brick recollection of memories and futures. As I’ve put it so well, “we Serbs are too attached to the past”.

So, for those obsessively asking me “what’s the point of your journey?” I can only tell you: there is no point if it must have a point.

Journeys like these are not jobs, they’re not made of plans, and if they are they will not work out. Trust me, I relied on a plan and I’m now massively frustrated and sad. Indeed, you can say I’m very fortunate – in current Western jargon, I am privileged – after all not many of us can afford “getting lost” in Europe. You’re right, do point fingers at me, I won’t refute because you are right. But if you’re asking me this question in these exact terms, I invite you to reassess your idea of Europe and have a look at the places I mentioned in the beginning of this text. And, please, don’t you dare judge me for my choices, I never judged yours: I’m jobless and refused a job to be here, I still have thesis’ corrections to finish, I have an article I will not deliver because I cannot stand it any longer, it hurts me. I have a broken heart and a shattered soul scattered all over, and I have passions that make me impulsive and alive. I don’t have possessions any more, I gave them away as I left my life behind, and I already had so little, I already had given so much… I have no house, no commodities, but a bottle of perfume that was not cheap, but it’s all I have. I left a piece of me in Belgrade and I don’t know how to get it back

I got lost in there. I am lost in here. I sob as I write this text – my Serbian companions offer me tissues and share their meal with me. The train stops and they leave, waving me the sweetest goodbye.

Suddenly, I feel human again.

August 14, 2015

‘Breast issues’

Beauty, Conversations, Inspiration
IMG_2044

Long hair and loose linen Ts are always a go for concealment, if you know what I mean.

 

I cannot remember the times when I did not worry about my breasts. Yes, this is a quite revealing and intimate text, but then again this is a blog and we’re supposed to be honest with that, right?

Garance Doré has been talking about her breasts for years, sometimes positively, sometimes with an almost melancholic tone. Her readers are always very positive in their feedback which leads me to think you’ll be too. Well, I NEVER talk about mine. Rarely do I mention them in laid-back conversations with my friends even when the conversation calls for it. But that doesn’t mean I’m not thinking about them.

So I just read this article from The Guardian  entitled ‘Why does fashion ignore big breasts’?. Eleanor Morgan (the 34D author) blew my mind with her simple yet precise and incredibly honest comments on how fashion mis-treats breasts. While I still struggle to understand my own anatomy, I found myself in bliss with some of Morgan’s arguments. The first, and for me the one that speaks for myself more than any of the others, is

 

‘It feels like breasts are a subject often left out of body-image discussions, especially when it comes to clothes. I wonder if this is because we’re worried about cup size being equated with weight’.

 

In my personal history this explains EVERYTHING revolving around my breast issues – I’d say body but my body is pretty good for my standards, the breasts are my only target. As a semi-troubled teenager who faced parents’ divorce, moving houses, taking care of my then already really old grandma and having to deal with the insecurities of my own mother, I obviously had some sort of mild eating disorder. I stress mild because, like Leandra Medine, I never really went down that spiral from which many people are never really able to come back. I overcame all of this. Somehow. But the breasts have always remained an issue. My body issue.

 

Jourdan Dunn was famously ditched out of a Dior couture show due to her 'breasts'. Seriously though...

Jourdan Dunn was famously ditched out of a Dior couture show due to her ‘breasts’. Seriously though…

 

Now you must be wondering: what size are you, really? Well, it’s not as big as you’d imagine after all the previous ‘rhetoric of the abnegated breasts’. European standards in place, my breasts are actually bellow the average size – not sure about Brazilian standards though. For someone who’s idyllically in love with the Scandinavian androgynous body type, which I reflect in my sartorial choices, the obvious (to me) association of breasts with weight seem strikingly realistic – not to mention cruel. It’s really tricky to dress outside the comfort zone of COS and Acne T-shirts, especially in menswear; it’s tricky because cleavage is not a goal for most of us who can actually afford to parade it. And depending on what you put on you really do look like you’ve got more weight than you actually do – think about dresses. But let’s be careful here: having more weight is not the problem; the problem is the value implicit in such a statement, the detriment of reading one’s social status or value through their body image.

Sartorially speaking, T-shirts and loose fitted shirts are a must have, not in the shallow ‘blogger-like’ way. And the geometry behind balancing measures from upper and lower body is worst than the worst math test you had during high school. Therefore finding designers who really do think about realistic women – and not ‘special women’ like some brands like to name us – is really hard. Stella McCartney is praised exactly because of that (and also because of her philosophical and ethical choices): women with breasts can fit most of her designs. I’d say Céline is also generous with us in those terms because cleavage and hyper-sexualized women’s image is not their forte, I mean, Philo is very reluctant to the real connotations of such images therefore she avoids them. Yet we all know Céline is a serious investment, it’s beyond most budgets. So what are the alternatives?

All this sounds too immature for a 30-year-old woman who should already have learned to deal with such things. Right? Wrong. Perhaps it’d have been easier to overcome them if I didn’t really care about fashion. Perhaps it’d have been much easier if the industry, mostly the economy of values and imagery were different. But like Garance (who just turned 40, by the way) I allow myself some extra years to learn how to deal with them, both.

 


Dunn’s image source: http://www.themodeofficial.com/magazine-editorials/campaigns-2/jourdan-dunn-lands-calvin-klein-underwear-fall-2014-campaign/

 

 

August 11, 2015

Why do I need to get rid of my belongings?

Conversations, Inspiration

DSCN2379

 

I decided to use the noun ‘belonging’ in the title of this text because it encapsulates two of the main things I will briefly address here. To belong can simultaneously mean ‘to be rightly placed in a specific position or space’, and ‘to be the property of’. Of course the OED provides us with more detailed information regarding semantics, but let’s just take a moment to consider the above meanings in one context: housing.

Since moving to London in 2011 I’ve switched places six times. That’s right, six different houses in four years. I could spend this entire text listing the reasons, but let’s focus on what matters: what can one do when one needs to move out of places so often? Fortunately (or not!) my situation is not at all unique in this city – I’d say 80% of young people living here face similar problems. Somehow housing spaces seem to get smaller and prices higher. Unless you’re a millionaire or has an old-decadent-super-rich-lonely -ant living in the city who’d be able to accommodate you, be prepared to become best friends with a ‘man and van’.

Recently I’ve faced my sixth moving and only then I really (REALLY) stopped to philosophically analyse this strange movement of being an eternal nomadic who never actually leaves the same geography. I’ve always been known for being quite detached from material things, since my early years I’d give away my personal belongings never really accumulating too much. But we live in a world of cumulative behaviour where we’ve changed our attitude from gatherers to hoarders. Permanent hoarders. Seasonally I’d organize give-away afternoons where I’d separate what didn’t belong to be anymore.

In London this pattern gained new dimensions accompanying my process of self-discovery (yes, again) and the slow but continuous curatorship of my wardrobe. To this point I’ve managed to select things in a way that now pretty much all I own can fit into my 5 suitcases – two big ones, three cabin size – however I still own too many books and all those small reminiscent objects of my previous flats. I realised people could be such assholes in judging one another’s personalities through their personal belongings. Dah, I know I didn’t discover the wheel here, but still… I’m so beyond fed up with people telling me ‘you have too many things’, ‘why do you have too many things?’. So, allow me to briefly explain to you, asshole enquirer, why I have, to your point of view, ‘too many things’:

  1. I’ve been living in London for 4 years, which means I’ve managed to acquire books and a livelihood of stationary and bathroom products that for me are quite essential things in my current life
  1. To understand what is or isn’t essential to someone’s daily routine, consider that person’s household. For someone who’s constantly on the move, small moveable belongings become the staples of a home, since carrying furniture is a sine qua non embargo (to use technical import/export terms).
  1. When you live in a house of your own you create space for things. In the end things end up getting lost in the small containers of our own house and it’s more likely we don’t remember we own those things anymore. Once you live in a small place or a shared flat you become more and more aware of what you have. Why? Because you must develop strategies when going to the bathroom and so that you don’t leave your L’Occitane shower gel or your Aesop facial cleanser to the mercy of your flatmates. This means you need an extra space in your room for it, as well as for all your other super personal things. The kitchen is another matter, much more liberal and prone to detachment.

 

Considering these three points and after a long-term process of reassessing my personal belongings I ask myself this question: why do I need to get rid of my things? Why having 5 handbags suddenly becomes a sin to so many people who actually own more than the triple number of handbags? The other day Leandra Medine while interviewing Carolina Herrera confessed she finally counted the number of shoes she owned and said she counted 236 pairs. Herrera praised her stating she actually needed good shoes to leave the house. Well, I must be either really poor or too naive (I’d rather stick to the second), but my jaw literally dropped and I thought to myself ‘and I’m feeling guilty for owning 5 handbags??!!’.

Judgments cannot be avoided I reckon, but understanding them is an option. Every time an asshole tells me I have too many things, despite knowing how many things I own in fact, I come to the conclusion that it’s a torpid Freudian echo of someone who is indeed projecting their own anxieties towards my current status. Unless the person is a Buddhist monk, I’m 100% sure that the whole ‘I only have two suitcases with all my things’ is the outmost fallacy and that, like the lady from Eat, Pray Love, they only travel as a free spirit with one backpack because they’ve left their entire flat in a storage somewhere or in their mom’s house.

I guess what I really wanted to say is that the things that surround your life are not the ones that make up who you are but they’re definitely the ones that help you identify yourself with a certain space and a certain measure of yourself that no one else in the world is capable of understanding. So let’s be free with or without our things and if you ever feel like detaching just do it. I did, I do, I’ll do. But only because I want, not because I need.

 

 

 

 


 

* Apologies for the very bad language.

** The box in the picture is from a medieval casket with love scenes engraved on it. This will be my next moving box – a real challenge and mission in life.

 

 

 

Up