Sunday, April 30, 2017

Rei Kawakubo: Costume Exhibit

Hey Brainiacs,

I apologize for how long it's been since I've been regularly posting, but I've had to sell my soul to my university's newspaper this semester and it's really taking me away from my true calling: fashion.  Tragic, isn't it?  Anyway, I'm back!

I figured I'd come back with a bang, so let's talk about Rei Kawakubo and this year's Costume Exhibit at the Met.  Maybe you know exactly who that is, or maybe you're thinking to yourself, is that a person? A type of animal?  An innovative new bathtub cleaner?  You're so confused, you're embarrassing yourself. Allow me to explain.

Starting to make sense? Of course it isn't. Rei Kawakubo is the designer behind Comme des Garçons, French for "like the boys."

Comme des Garçons was started by Kawakubo in Tokyo in 1969 and has been defying fashion rules ever since.  The label is known for its imaginative work with texture and fit, rendering audiences speechless during runway shows.

(Comme des Garçons Spring RTW 1993)

Here's how the Met ties into the whole thing: if you're a human, you're aware (I'm hoping?) that there is a Met Gala every year on the First Monday In May. Fashion editors, writers, actors, politicians, and artists of all creed gather to celebrate the opening of the exhibit, each strategically dressed to match the theme.

This year, the theme is Kawakubo.  While most of the costume exhibits of years' past have been centered around a broader theme, such as last year's "Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology,"this one is dedicated to the designer and her womenswear label.

(Comme des Garçons Spring RTW 2000)

Kawakubo has never been afraid to do what she wants to do in her designs and the presentation of her models, and her shows are always widely received.

(Comme des Garçons Fall RTW 2014)

Her fearlessness has paid off, earning her this honor which will be on display May-September at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Fifth Avenue.  Kawakubo is the second designer to have only her designs on display in the Costume Exhibit (the first being Yves Saint Laurent) and the first female designer to do so.

In honor of this milestone, here are a few of Kawakubo's most imaginative designs.  What are your thoughts on them? Would you wear them? When putting the designs on your body, would you know where to stick your limbs properly?  Is it possible that all these years, Kawakubo's models have just been putting the clothes on backwards?



Thursday, April 20, 2017

Done Hiding

The problem with anorexia is that it’s almost glamorized.  It’s a gorgeous model skipping lunch, it’s a bombshell in a bikini eating a stick of celery.  In reality, anorexia (and eating disorders in general) is hideous. 
I’m guessing your first question is, How did this happen?  Or perhaps, WHY did this happen? 
            Maybe you’re thinking to yourself, Doesn’t this only happen to people with really low self-esteem? Teenage girls with a history of abuse, daddy issues, depression?  But it’s not that simple.  I started out a normal girl who wanted to get in shape, and anorexia turned me into something I wasn’t.  It made me that teenage girl with all the issues.
            At first, cutting the calories felt really good.  The weight, which I was convinced was “way too much,” shed very quickly and the compliments came flooding in.  This encouraged me to keep going, not seeing how much I was restricting myself.  I guess I figured, if I can look good on this amount of food, won’t I look even better with a little less?  It seems simple enough to tell that version of Taylor: No, dumbass.  Less food doesn’t make you feel better.  It breaks down your muscle, results in hair and nail loss, puts your fertility rate in danger, lowers your blood pressure, and eventually messes up the chemicals in your brain, causing a body dysmorphia so crippling that even death sounds better than getting “fat.”  But I didn’t know.
            I kept going, and nothing was good enough.  All of the aforementioned symptoms happened to me and more.  My social life came to a screeching halt.  I didn’t have the energy to go anywhere or do anything.  Simple conversations exhausted me.  Everything either made me angry or completely apathetic.  I couldn’t even feel anymore.  All I could think about was why I wasn’t losing weight fast enough, why my stomach wasn’t completely flat, why there was a layer of fat around my biceps.
            Although I devoted all of my energy to my body, I never felt good enough.  The goal was to be skinny, but that goal was NEVER fulfilled.  I guess that’s what makes it an illness, right?  Most of the time I felt huge.  When I wasn’t feeling huge, it was because someone was telling me how horrifically skinny I looked and how I should get help.  Then I felt even worse than huge: I felt unattractive.  I felt unappealing, frail, and unwomanly.  I felt like my body was offensive, so I covered it up with large clothing so I could keep starving in peace.
            I mentioned before that my social life came to a screeching halt.  When I say screeching, I mean screeching.  People would ask me to go out, get dinner, have a drink, but the anxiety that came along with the thought of going out for a meal (I didn’t want people to see me eat) was enough to make my head spin.  I spent most nights at home, so bloated and in so much pain from the torture I was putting myself through that I couldn’t even think about seeing anyone. 
            They say the people who develop anorexia develop it because they’re perfectionists.  They need everything to be in order and in control, including their eating.  I tell my stomach when it needs to be fed, not the other way around.  Because of my perfectionism, my need to always be on top of things and to excel at everything I do, I never let anyone know I was struggling.  I never even admitted it to myself.  Instead, I became mean.  I was very cold and distant from people who are dearest to me.  I didn’t want to talk about my emotions because I didn’t have any.  I couldn’t empathize anymore because I couldn’t remember what it was like to feel sadness, happiness, love.  I didn’t even want anyone to touch me, let alone be part of my life.
            I was cold all the time. I stopped wearing makeup, stopped caring about my outfits. Stopped going to parties, stopped laughing, rarely smiled.
            I hope by now I’ve answered those initial questions that I basically forced you to ask.  There are many reasons eating disorders can happen, and they’re developed in a twisted, cruel way unique to every victim.  I’m not proud of what I did—the people I pushed away, the damage I did to my family, and the damage I did to myself.  I didn’t allow me to love myself anymore, and that’s something I am determined to get back.
            Almost two months ago I decided enough was enough.  Or rather, it was decided for me.  I began to notice trouble with my breathing but I ignored it, thinking it would go away.  A few days went by and things only got worse.  Eventually I was in the passenger seat of my friend’s car when I realized I couldn’t see straight.  There was a strange, throbbing sensation throughout my body and it felt as though ice cold liquid was running through my veins.  Later that night I noticed my heart rate was unusually slow.  I looked it up—a side effect that can result from being severely underweight. 
I went to urgent care that night.  Thankfully, everything was fine.  But it so fucking wasn’t.  I realized that this, my life, my health, wasn’t something to play around with.  Before things got fatal, I needed to stop. 
            The first thing I noticed when recovering was that I could see colors again.  It sounds cheesy, and maybe it is, but I remember going to school one of the first days in my recovery and looking around in wonder.  There were actual people around me, going to class and living their lives and eating enough calories to get through the day with a real smile.  Reality wasn’t a dull blur anymore.  I was no longer living in the fake world my eating disorder created for me—I was actually back on Earth.
            When eating disorders develop, they’re not taken seriously.  A man or woman decides to skip a meal here and there or reduce their calories a bit.  Most of the time, it’s okay, but sometimes, it gets out of control.  It keeps going and going until it’s consumed you, changed you, taken over your entire life.  But this is a serious issue and I’m sharing my experience not because I WANT anyone to know, but because I want to be there for anyone else who might be struggling. 

It’s not easy to talk about and it can feel impossible to overcome, but I understand that.  I’m done hiding, and I’m here.