let’s talk about standing up

standing up
quoting

Fearless Girl by Kristen Visbal

Photo by Federica Valabrega

fearless 

Fearless. Iconic. That’s what the picture of Nancy Pelosi, standing in a room full of men, opposite the president of the United States, pointing her finger at him, is already, iconic. Let’s talk about standing up.

There have been many iconic moments like this involving women recently. In my last post, I talked about women acting. In this case, let’s talk about the act of standing up. From Christine Blasey Ford, standing, hand up, swearing to tell the truth in front of Congress, to Greta Thunberg at the U.N., shaming her adult listeners, to the statue,” Fearless Girl, on Wall Street, hands on hips, facing down the Bull, all iconic. 

Recently, I was forced to revisit a time, more than 20 years ago, when I started a consultancy whose focus was “using the body in leadership.” This was well before Amy Cuddy’s “iconic TED Talk,” where she introduced the whole world to “power-posing.” The consultancy never really got off the ground. But I continue to believe in the power of the body and the intelligent use of its intrinsic power, especially for women.

That’s another thing that women have been denied for far too long, feeling, using, and relishing the power of the body.

Let’s be clear, looking pretty, dressed in a “power suit” and high heels, is not enough. Although Nancy Pelosi, in her solid primary colors, suits, heels, tailored, not “frothy” but still “feminine” style, exudes confidence, that’s just packaging.

If “clothes make the man,” women have always needed much more to be able to stand up, something coming from a deeper place. 

While “fake it ’til you make it” by power-posing in the bathroom before a crucial presentation, and wearing a kick-ass suit at an important meeting, can work, when it’s time to stand up, they’re not enough. Nancy Pelosi understands that. And so do other women and even young girls. I bet Greta Thunberg was brought up to feel good in her young body.

There are exceptions to the rules about women and the use of the power of the body, whose allowed and who isn’t.

Although not exactly my area of expertise, I have to mention prostitutes and

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please support me in my attempt to empower you

Uplift by Ferdinand Cacnio

please support me
i made
quoting

paying attention

When you grow up an only child, in a family that is a perfect definition of “dysfunctional,” you rapidly become both icily independent and ravenously needy, at the center, of course, is a kind of numbness, a kind of strong, cold silence. But the numbness and silence of dysfunctional “onlyness” teaches and allows you to observe things closely.

In my case, that environment produced in my a quirky ability to be both empathetic and critical, while singularly detail oriented. If you can imagine an itinerant social worker, with a kind of refined sense of right and wrong, in a world where people don’t pay much attention to anything that doesn’t directly concern them, that’s me. 

I admit to both what is just romanticized “independence,” as well as clumsy, and, honestly, pathetic neediness. And I see a lot of need in the world.  

So like many women, I ask, what to do? I ask others to please support me in my attempt to empower you, how can I help you? And would you mind helping me? I’m an imperfect creature though, and most times neither my attempts to help or requests for assistance, work out. Why? 

support

We hear a lot about “support” everywhere these days, particularly in social media, but also in popular literature, as well as in the “serious” press.

Fifty years ago were people constantly offering so much “support” to individuals, communities, ideas?

Today, it’s all about support, and we do our part. We know that we must support our children in their quest for their individuality, that makes sense. And we support the neighborhood food bank, that’s surely a good thing. We know we need to support teachers in their work to educate youth, of course. We support our temple, or church, and our YMCA. 

It’s when the support is applied to ever larger circles of people, ever more distant from us, and even ideas, mostly vague ones, that support starts to become an unstable structure

empower me empower you

Do you support the “me too” movement? Yes, of course. How? Do you support the people of the LGBTQ communities? Yes. How? How do you support the women in Syria? The troops? Here’s my current favorite “support structure”: “I support women.” It has become as dreadful, as meaningless as the widespread “empowering women.” A sentiment that is hard to define and feel. Define. Feel.

“Let’s start a group to empower newly divorced women.” “We want to help empower women entrepreneurs.” “We empower women to be their “best selves” at any age.” 

Lest you think I’m being heavy on my criticism side, and less so on the empathy, I’m probably as guilty as anyone of supporting, all of the supporting that we are all doing. Perhaps like you, I’m quicker than I used to be telling people what I do and don’t support. And I’m totally into the idea of empowering women and girls!

Hash tag that, thumbs up, smiley face, heart.

Yes, I do believe it’s a kind of

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when the truth eludes you

Detail of a work by Thornton Dial at the Met Breuer

when the truth eludes you
quoting

pay up

What do you do when the truth eludes you? When you just can’t get the unvarnished truth, when it seems to be almost hiding from you, when you suspect that there’s actually some truth on both sides?   

This is the situation I recently found myself in, when I got in between a small, emerging fashion brand based in the United States and a small manufacturer based in Nepal. Here’s a condensed version of the story that grew rapidly and became relatively big, fast.

While scrolling through my Instagram feed last week, I came upon a picture of a small group of Nepalese women, holding signs urging a fashion brand to, essentially, pay up.

The text accompanying the picture said that the brand had ordered, received, and had been selling garments on-line, garments for which the women who made them, presumably the women in the picture, had been waiting for payment in full, for a long time.

These kinds of pictures float through my feed all the time and fairly often, I repost them. I don’t do so mindlessly. I read the accompanying text, pay attention to which brand, designer, or manufacturer is being accused of what. I do some research myself, or I make sure I know and can trust those who have, and I take into account how well documented the alleged, egregious behavior is. 

Calling people, companies, politicians, organizations, and even governments out is one aspect of social media I believe in.

“greenwash” it

I believe also that one has to be careful in the way they do the “calling out.” I did, and still do feel fine about reposting the Nepalese women’s post. I have no problem pointing out that too often this is how the business of fashion, especially fast fashion, works and the kinds of things it’s guilty of.

Go to a poor, “third world” country, find a manufacturer who works fast and cheap, don’t ask too many questions about how the women are treated and paid, and you have yourself a “relationship.”

If you want, you can even “greenwash” the situation.

You can tell your customers that every aspect of manufacture is done ethically and sustainably, the workers are housed in nice dorms, in the lovely countryside, the

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there is only space for the truth

Visiblemend

quoting:
stockman
translating 
rachel peru style

truth

“We all know that this is the end of the comedy. For Everybody. In one hundred years from now, everybody’s going to be bald. This is it. And you know that you have to use every speck of your life to do the things that you want to do. There is only space for the truth. There are no more games. The games kind of disappear, and you just concentrate on things that are really important.”

—Antonio Banderas

Antonio Banderas had a heart attack for all of us, and we should be grateful. People who come back from heart attacks, cancer, an accident, or any kind of “near death experience” always have something juicy and incisive to say.

Banderas took it to another place, a truth filled, poetic place.

I admire his eloquence, and I love the way he phrases things. You can tell that English was not his first language, yet he expresses himself so well. And how good is this: “We all know that this is the end of the comedy.” 

dummies

Fashion Institute of Technology

translating

“Known worldwide through knowledge unique to the House passed down from generation to generation, the Stockman mannequins are used by the biggest names of high fashion and the fashion industry. Hand-crafted in the shop located next to Paris, the Stockman busts have the elegance and refinement of knowledge do the French.”

—Stockman

If you’ve ever been around dress forms, or “dummies,” as they have been often called, you’ve seen Stockman imprinted at the neck. Because, like a lot of designers, seamstresses, and fashion type people, I have a thing for dummies, I had to find out more about this mysterious “Stockman.”

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