Feminism

Tale of a TV Screen

God. If the reflections bouncing off of this blank TV screen were an actual show, I would have changed channels long ago. Staring at my expressionless, painfully average features against the white wall behind me, tinted grey against the cold black glass – it makes me realise how much editing must go into a shot before it is worthy of the big screen.

But then again, I’ve had a very similar reaction when I‘ve watched episodes of Geordie Shore or Big Brother. For me, it was a struggle to watch for more than a minute. Watching people go about their day to day business with almost obsessive interest, picking at the very fabric of their being like a starving vulture. Not really my cup of tea to be honest – I’ve got better things to do than watch So-and-So off of that reality TV program go for their morning poo.

But having said all of this, maybe there is something beautiful in studying the mundane? The more I stare at this reflection in the TV screen, I start to notice minuscule and interesting details: The way the light radiates gently from the florescent lights above, the fact that the wires holding them to the ceiling are invisible in the reflection, the way that all of the hues and colours of everyday life are transformed into an array of monochromatic shadows through the black glass. With no airbrushed augmented reality to compare it to, it looks kind of pretty.

Maybe it’s all right to turn off the TV and be okay with the image that is still sitting on the screen? It’s kind of sad that my first thought was that the unedited version of my face wasn’t good enough to be there. I bet people all over the world feel exactly the same way. Taking a million snaps and only putting 1 of them on social media is daily practice, because nobody will love us if we put that one up where we look like we’re trying too hard.

Also reflected in the TV screen is the window to my right. It’s pouring with rain outside, tinting the scenery grey, just like the black glass of the TV. I remember walking through the sleet this morning, agitated at the fact that my hood wouldn’t cover my entire head. My mood worsened when I finally reached shelter and had to wipe mascara from my cheeks, which I had so carefully applied an hour earlier.

Having taken the time to stare at this TV screen, I’ve made a promise to myself. I will walk home today with my hood down. I will jump in every puddle I see and let the icy wind blow my hair back into its natural, chaotic state. I’ll get home, pour a cup of tea and settle down to some rubbish TV. Only this time, I’ll remember to see the bigger picture – in full colour.

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Fashion & Freedom

Fashion & Freedom, an exhibition displayed at Manchester Art Gallery, explores the profound effect that the First World War had on women. The onset of war in 1914 brought many significant cultural and social changes across British society. As men left home to fight on the frontline, the women of Britain joined the industrial workforce, taking on jobs as bus conductors, ambulance drivers and window cleaners, as well as in offices and factories. New responsibility gave women new freedom and led to new ways of dressing, as silhouettes and social codes changed. Spanish director Rei Nadal unites with designer Phoebe English, to explore ‘The Fall of the Corset.’

As the film begins, we are greeted with a slow and harmonious orchestral melody – the music instantly struck me with sad undertones that made my soul sting. As the motion picture progresses and the music continues, we are introduced to a young girl who is wearing little else but a corset, being tugged and pulled into it by several men. A lot of the threads are bright red in colour and very frayed, instantly conjuring the subconscious image of lacerations. The makeup choice is also very poignant, the pale complexion and red-rimmed eyes tell the tale of a woman who is tired and in pain.

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The girl’s expression is world-weary throughout the film, portraying a character who has been in pain for a long time and is too tired to fight what she is being subjected to. Once the corset has been tied, the men tie strings to the girl’s limbs. They begin to pull and manipulate her, as if they are puppeteers and she is a puppet, further conveying the girl’s lack of power over herself. Scenes of the girl sat on a child’s rocking horse and a swing are pictured, all the while the men are still acting as puppeteers and the girl is still looking weary. By this point, the robbery of the character’s innocence and lack of her control is so hard hitting that I have to wipe tears away.

Despite the character’s obvious fatigue, she eventually pulls the threads from the puppeteers’ grasp and begins the arduous process of removing the corset, concluding with her exhausted naked body sprawled across the floor. I love how this part of the video is choreographed. To me, it reads as a metaphor for the women of the war who began their journey to freedom and independence. Although the act of removing a corset may seem like a simple task on paper, it is portrayed as a long and soul wrenching process that is a great struggle for the already drained young woman. For me, this is an accurate and respectful demonstration of what the women’s suffrage had to endure – a lonely, gruelling battle that wasn’t always appreciated for the heroic act that it was, to get to the point at which we are at today.