the blue stocking

aug-21 | #inmystudio #foxfield #selkirk 
#contemplativephotography #conceptualphotography #abstractphotography #paintingwithlight #softfocus #macro #visualpoetry #visualhaiku

The Blue Stocking is a series created as part of an ongoing healing journey in my relationship with my body, much of which has been focussed on a profound ambivalence toward (and distorted perception of) my legs.

As a 17 year old, I received the highest mark in the whole of New Zealand for my final year national University Entrance English exam. But this was the late 1970s and I was a (very) good girl so when my father sent me to secretarial school instead of higher education, I didn’t question it. My younger brother went on to university but I became a shorthand typist because my father didn’t want me to be a ‘blue stocking’ which the dictionary defines as ‘an intelligent and well-educated woman who spends most of her time studying and is therefore not approved of by some men’. It was certainly not a path he approved of. He probably also had (unspoken and unacknowledged) fears about the sexuality of these (in his mind) highly unconventional and deeply unfeminine women.

9BD5A3F7-00EC-42A4-9BF3-6F4AC4776B3AIt is so easy to look back in hindsight and see how clearly this set me on a trajectory toward 13 devastating years of chronic bulimia, with all the low self-worth and body-image issues that accompany such an illness. The parallel between these early experiences and the extreme measures I have taken over the years to keep my legs (and intelligence) hidden is not lost on me. I was 60 before I allowed myself to wear a (short-ish) skirt and stockings confidently in public but it is extremely symbolic that when I did so, it was on a visit to the Glasgow Women’s Library.

Exhibited as part of the Whose Body Is It project, curated by the We for Women collective.

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