“And the verb became flesh”.
When studying for teacher, I thought that this was an extreme statement, a shocking expression to make the theory better understandable, even to make it popular. You know… a french sociologist, making pilosophy, in the 70’s, speaking about “structuring structured structures”… well, just an adv. Words don’t modify bodies.
Even when teaching, discussing on gender issues with teens, especially young female students at vocational training, now I see the habitus was there, but I did not realize it.
One of its properties is that, you don’t see it, it’s “natural”. It’s completely transparent.
My perception did not change with Aina, my daughter. At four she suffered and cried when their little friends from school said “this shirt is not pretty, you are ugly today”. At five she angrily scolded her mother about daily clothes, and at six she had decided what kind of haircut would suit her all life long. Heavy reactions for a 6 year girl, but I thought it was just her, her personality, her sensibility, competitiveness and perfectionism.
One summer day, on holidays at a coast village, we happened to go into a small hairdresser. I was waiting outside, closing eyes to develop some seeing, and suddeny I felt rage, disguise, compassion for her… mama was outside, Aina was alone with two clerks, they were telling her (gently, but telling, not asking) what they were going to do. She was suffering. The place was oppressive. Green nasty light, plenty of mirrors, technical furniture, appliances spread and room covered with large posters of beautiful hair models in entrance and exit, it was clearly a jail, a doctor Frankenstein’s machine in a hair dressing room. I shot hitting the hairdresser. I felt so much angst when postprocessing that I painted exageratdly blue her face, and all the place with sickness, disease light.
It was not just her. Habitus was acting. Yes, words may change your mind. But certainly words modifies bodies. Then I decided to shoot on habitus. It’s not a project, it’s a perception that reveals regularly in the diverse shootings I do, and some shoots jumps out to a conceptually consistent body of work.
Sometimes, during insomnia nigths, I fear about Aina becoming anorexic when she grows up.