I seek to understand a core restlessness which has defined my life- the hyper vigilance, the never feeling safe in my own skin. It’s a struggle integrated into the DNA of my identity. Here, I explore a fundamental question of the feminine experience.
I wear a denim mini skirt in the summer because L.A. is very hot. I’m not trying to be sexy. One day I walked up a staircase as a man walked down. He had stringy white hair and a white 5 o’clock shadow. He wore a straw hat, a Hawaiian shirt and shorts. I did not like the look of him, but that might be something I’m laying over the memory because of what happened next.
I felt weird, so pulled my skirt snug around my thighs and looked down. He was looking at my bare thighs and deeper, into the center of me.
And in that split second we locked eyes.
His face contracted, blood rushed up from his neck. He blinked and his head shot round as if he’d been slapped. He felt ashamed, but until I caught him, never imagined how I felt.
It’s just one of many tiny moments that happen throughout the day, hundreds of times a week that create a kind of overall self-consciousness about being female. It’s worse for younger women, especially the pretty ones. Their day features an onslaught of visual and verbal assaults most of them can never articulate. I know, I used to be one. They’ll carry those insults like shrapnel and the infection will fester.
After a lifetime of this I don’t feel like I can get my skin tight enough around me to cover up my insides.