I didn't realize that I'd be one of the only folks at the office in costume for the whole day (our office Halloween party was that night), but I think it gave me time to really sit with Frida and in my creativity, and I have some reflections I'd like to share.
Perception is a very funny thing. Rocking a uni-b takes serious confidence, and I, not being the most appearance-minded person, for the most part, could handle it because I forget what I look like until I'm in front of a mirror. And it was pretty easy going under the radar of my coworkers because only a handful of people even knew who Frida Kahlo was! I know...
To add to that, some didn't realize I was in costume at all, and others guessed Maya Angelou, and - wait for it - Aunt Jemima. Yes, the slave on the pancake syrup. Because that's a thing. Anyway, I couldn't help but think about how Frida viewed herself and how others viewed her. (When you're dressed as someone for a day, it's hard not to!) Her work was focused on herself; she painted self-portraits because she was the person she knew best. Simple as that. Why do we as 'modern' women have to endlessly justify our focus on ourselves, even in the advancement of our careers? It's one thing to defend your use of company's resources for professional development, but it's deeper than that. Have you or a woman you know ever been looked at as audacious? Audacious is a funny word because it has two meanings. Either "showing a willingness to take bold risks" (me AF) or "showing an impudent lack of respect". In the eyes of some, in their heart-of-hearts, behind their eyes and appropriateness, I know I'm the latter.
But WWFD? She would paint her own reality. I paint my own reality every day. Media and surreality TV shows paint the image of what I am in the eyes of many. On paper, I am a black female millennial. And if millennials are all the same, black women have definitely always been the same. You get summed up enough, you might believe it to be the truth. Or moreover, believe that their perception is the keystone and yours is ornamentation. BUMP THAT. From Frida exhibiting her truest self in her art and life way before our time to Bey and Sol now showing everyone who didn't know: POC can be anything we want, in front of everyone, despite the constant scrutiny of eyes that don't matter.
"What they disparage doesn't penetrate the Disparate." - Devanne Pena, Frida the Audacious & Me