To live as a woman in Italy today is quite confusing.
Miss Italy was on TV on my first day since my return. Also a discussion if muslim women are oppressed by their men and obliged to cover themselves. A series of violence cases against women poured some gasoline over the fire during the next days. Some of the news programmes now are mainly about that. A 15 years old girl was shot yesterday.
I felt this tension in Moldova as well where a culture of perfect pretty women predominates. Women trying to please the tradition, the family and the whole galaxy. If in Moldova the tension has to do more with traditions’ transgression here it is more of a sexuality problem. I did not feel anything like that in Czechia or South Korea for example. There I just mingled with the crowd and it felt good. Even if I am a head above the street level.
I am quite tall, can’t cut my head or my feet. Walking on the street becomes here a declaration of existence. As if I have to justify me being, walking and breathing. I feel people’s thoughts trying to pigeonhole my presence. Buying something at the supermarket becomes a live commercial.
Yesterday I was waiting in line at the supermarket. A tall, well built, well dressed, financially abundant woman in her early 40s I would say, was at the cashier. I guess she is accustomed with attention, maybe she enjoys it even, by the way she looked around through her expensive sun glasses. Her presence was like a weak electric shot confusing little fish. People here clearly have a weakness, or were trained so, for rich good looking woman.As if they have to watch out and pay attention suddenly .
I was looking at the cashier. Another woman. They did not interact in any way. The luxurious one not wanting to interact, as any human customer would do, with so low levels of existence. She did not even say thank you.While the line was getting longer she took all the time she needed, without trying to move a little faster, to put the products she bought inside the bags. Right in that moment the cashiers changed. The new one had her eyes red and a little swollen. Deep under eye bags. Her voice was wet.
Today I find this supermarket newsletter at the entrance.
Of course, I think to myself, if a woman will use these products advertised inside, she will of course become as beautiful as this photoshopped, nothing to do with the reality face!
I believe this newsletter arrived in many Italian houses today. A lot of women saw this face and had a moment with themselves, doubting or congratulating themselves for keeping up.
I, a former modelling worker and survivor (yes, maybe I did not have the resources to continue, maybe I did not believe in the authenticity of it all) feel the responsibility to talk about this. For sure, buying and believing that some beauty products will make one more lovable, more precious, more interesting, more visible is only part of the created confusion we are now living in. I am not saying that we must stop taking showers and take care of our appearance, I am saying that the exterior can do just as much as the interior has to offer.
I feel a deep confusion around this subject here in Italy and not only. As if womanhood is some kind of hot potato that we really don’t know what to do with. I see women rejecting their feminity or overdoing it (how they dress, treat their body, their minds) because it is scary to be a woman, an attractive one even, while not knowing how to react to the bull**** coming towards you.
When at my window, looking at the Romanin badanta across, in the building facing me, I try to understand what is her life about. Since I last saw her a year ago, she is now heavier, her hair shorter, her movements stricter. She is still coming out on the balcony talking Romanian in such a heavy, strident voice. The other Romanian woman, living in the building across as well, is also still there discussing in a loud voice on the balcony. She gave birth to a second child leaving behind a huge chunk of Romanian meat.
I ask myself what is this newsletter doing to these women or the little ones? What is the Italian macho culture doing to their women? What are we doing to ourselves?