When I think of ‘shaping’ what comes to mind is sculpture.
There is obviously a type of sculpting that is additive… I picture an artist applying lumps of clay. But the image of sculpture that I have is, well, subtractive, which is not a word that rolls off the tongue.
Somewhere, long ago I heard or read a sculptor describe the act of sculpting as finding, exposing, uncovering the figure or object that is inside the piece of wood or marble. That is the way I have always pictured sculpture…
Finding what is hidden inside the raw material and exposing it, setting it free.
You can see where I am going with this, I suppose. This wasn’t a conscious motivation when I felt driven to write about the childhood experience that laid down the law for me about the importance of female appearance. But it makes sense to me today. Those ‘formative’ experiences are what shaped me.
My personal experience may be more singular than other girls’, but I can state with confidence that each of us received that layer of shaping at some time in our youth. It still assaults us from multitudinous directions. The best that I can say is that today it is possible for a girl to also receive the message that she is more than her looks, that she has intrinsic value as a human being.
But honestly, on this November day in 2016, it is too easy to yield to the belief that the tide has shifted. The wave has pulled back from the shoreline that we have spent so long approaching. Okay, perhaps I’ve gone a step too far with the metaphor. My point is that the volume of regressive voices seems so much louder than the progress we have made. Girls now can hear positive messages about their value, but the din of female value = appearance has never lost it strength.
You know, I didn’t intend to rant like this. I guess it is the sound of another layer of anger being scraped off. At this point, that seems to be the essence of ‘shaping’ my life. It is about removing each lamination that has been applied over the years, in order to expose my true self. Like a sculptor with a chisel facing a slab of marble or a beautiful piece of wood.
Chip, chip, pause; step back and look.
What is inside there to be discovered? Me.
I’ve provided links to the eight women sculptors that I have featured here. Their work is breathtaking and moving. They are each amazing.