For those of you who haven’t been hanging out in women’s change rooms recently there is a phenomena that I think is new, which one might call extreme modesty. I was describing to a friend the dynamic at yoga studio I go to. The room full of twenty something women are incredibly fit and gorgeous, carefully tattooed. Most of them go to great lengths not to be naked. They will change in the toilet stalls or awkwardly put a bra on over a towel, sliding the towel out once their boobs are well covered.
I suppose this surprised me, given how media-sexualized their lives have been. It strikes me a tad prudish, and not very body-positive.
A few blocks away is the Plant pool change room ancient Chinese women sit starkers on benches with their knees a foot apart. They are jowly, lumpy. They scrub their balding crotches vigorously in the open showers while the young women creep into the closed stalls with their clothes. I wonder if the elder’s lack of self-consciousness stems from a history of more communal living. Or perhaps life has given them bigger fish to fry than the meticulous hair plucking focus of younger generations.
But something in me is relieved and humoured by these women, and maybe even healed by their insouciance.
People often have questions about how I choose what to paint. As I was painting this hammer head, “Why this?”. I love the shapes, the challenge of building up the neutral tones, bringing colour to the steel or the white background. Why this? My ancient Chinese mentors changing amentors at the pool came to mind, as did the title: Beauty Redefined.