women working, lady in blue
She’s sweeping, just like some of the other women working I take pictures of. What I love about this picture is the lapis blue and gold tunic she’s wearing. The red of her necklace and the tips on her broom and dustpan standout against the relative dark of the background. The gloss of her hair and the gold band of her topknot are perfect.
This scene looks like something you could see in Italy or Spain, but it’s my neighborhood. I’m lucky to be living in a place that never fails to astound me with its diversity and beauty. There’s always something to be inspired by, or calmed by, just when you happen to need it most. Her face is the light in this picture. Women working are the light in this city.
women working, a member of my tribe?
Ethnic beauty, diversity, different definitions of beauty—concepts that are dear to me. I’ve written about the feeling of sisterhood that I experience when I see women who look like they come from my tribe.
I saw this woman out of the corner of my eye, tending bar in a local restaurant. She caught my eye, well, because I’m always alert to #womenworking, and I was once a bartender; but there were other reasons this woman in particular drew my attention. She’s beautiful, yes; she was doing her work in a steady and highly competent manner, yes; but there was something else.
I didn’t immediately realize what it was, but I knew I needed to speak with her, and as soon as I did it became obvious. She’s Polish, and Latvia, the place I come from, the place whose “face” I wear, shares a border with Poland. We were sisters.
At this time, it’s not always cool to identify people by how they look.
I understand that, but I also believe that different types of beauty need to be acknowledged. I’m a member of a tribe, and that membership, and pride, has taught me to respect and appreciate the beauty of other tribes. How do you feel about your tribe identity and how does that affect your idea of beauty?
I’ve been thinking about a “bathing suit for us” for two or three years now. In my mind I would design all kinds of possible variations—but I’m not a designer and my designs would just be filed away in the won’t happen file. Then I met Germaine DeNigris of Arkins, a young designer with talent, a collaborative spirit, and an open mind.
Who, I thought, would want to design for women over fifty? Who would want to design edgy, slow and ethical fashion for us?
Germaine did! I was afraid maybe I’d overwhelmed her with my “enthusiasm” and detailed accounts of what was filed away in my won’t happen file, but we settled on that quintessential example of the kind of thing women our age want re-designed for us, the bathing suit.
Germaine took the challenge on and told me it could happen.
I was recently at a gathering of predominantly young computer hardware wonks called Hard Talk. I was there to hear a woman engineer talk about a new product I am interested in—the Caeden Sona bracelet, a “connected bracelet for mind and body”—which I hope to write about when it starts shipping in August. The meeting took place at WeWork Soho, the first WeWork site ever.
This woman working was the photographer for the meeting and panel discussion. I was happy to see that not only were there women on the panel but lots in the audience as well. The photographer moved around like a slim cat, contorting herself into improbable shapes while looking comfortable with her height and long legs. In my next life, I want legs like that!