Glitter Bomb for Fajo Magazine
We live in a challenging world, that's never been news, but in this post-Weinstein world, I think we found a whole other gear here in America. It's been two months and change and there's been no pause to the carnage. And momentum. And discussions. And public and personal attempts to dissect and process the life-altering background noise of sexual harassment, abuse, and implied abuse that women, almost universally, deal with their entire lives. It's incredible. And it's been something that I myself have been attempting and failing to articulate until the editor's at FAJO more or less made me (but in the best way).
FAJO Magazine just ran my story Glitter Bomb in their December issue (it even made the cover). Along with the images, they requested a paragraph about the inspiration behind the shoot, where it was shot, the crew, etc. What came out was a lot less about my shooting process and a lot more about how I use my work to process emotional events, and how I'm dealing with all the auxiliary conversations that our national examination has unearthed, which I feel are much more challenging and revealing.
So here is the unabridged rant:
Other than the fact that it somehow manages to get absolutely everywhere, you can’t be angry about glitter or sparkles. February in New York can be bleak. When NYFW rolled around bringing with it a parade of beautiful fanciful collections, many heavily featuring all manner of sparkles, I couldn’t help myself. I was inspired to create a sexy shoot with the kind of frivolous 70’s excesses that could provide a valuable and much-needed distraction from real life.
This editorial was shot before the Weinstein story broke, before #metoo, before the parade of firings of predatory men in positions of cultural power and prestige; before the conversation had really surfaced about the ubiquitousness of sexual harassment, it’s effect on women, and it’s effect (and that of the male gaze) on media as a social and political tool. We shot this before women across the country started sharing stories of their paths to womanhood (often involving the reclaiming of one’s power when the world takes our girlhood) and how female sexuality can exist as something apart from men, something that belongs uniquely to each individual woman and is not a performance for all men.
However, while we were all on set, surrounded by rolls of gold mylar and with Paula in full hair and makeup, the team and I found ourselves effected by the infectious joy of the sensuality of the garments. We were playing an elaborate game of dress up. The same childlike joy was there, marveling at the clothes themselves, but it wasn’t just about wearing pretty things. The joy and fascination came from embracing the power and layers of cultural meaning that they communicated and in our ability to create beautiful images from the individual raw materials. From the Scarface-esque silver slip dress, to the couture Morticia Adams scarlet gown, to the sheer shimmery dancing queen dress with the pink sequined hot pants, we were reminded of women who were not only confident in their sexuality, but almost luxuriant in it. And throughout the shoot Paula was sexy and challenging, and cheeky and happy, and it was somehow all for her. And in that moment it was exactly what I had wanted to create, a shoot where a woman was depicted as an entire person somehow free from the realities of the news cycle that have been getting us all down, and yet still relevant for where we are. I made the escapist fluff that still provides a way to combat the policing that many of us still feel even in this moment of reckoning; by being our unapologetic selves and not letting anyone take our power or our joy from us.