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.

When I was 17, 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.

It 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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