thoughts

"i am going"

"i am going"

When people ask how my trip to Paris was, the only thing I can say that is truly honest is that it was a lot of things.  and many of those things weren't positive, but no one really wants to hear that.  They want to hear that you had the time of your life and you didn't want to leave and that it was magical.  And maybe for some people it is, but for me, this time, it wasn't.  

I love travel.  I feel pretty pro at travel.  Growing up in Alaska going anywhere meant flying there.  Or road-tripping for about a week.  My first solo flight was when I was in 6th grade (I think) and I was so used to flying that I didn't realize that traveling as an unaccompanied minor was different.  I filed off the plane with the rest of the passengers, met up with my mom at the gate and we went on our merry way until the panicked flight attendants caught up with us and confirmed that I was leaving with the proper guardian.  I've flown to countless cities and road tripped from Alaska to Florida and back to Washington State solo.  

consume less, create more

Well, the weather outside is frightful and I'm curled up on the couch with a cup of lukewarm tea listening to the wind whipping against the house.  It's late and I'm waiting for sleep to sound enticing.  I was scrolling facebook, clicked a link that took me to a video of a ballet routine and then at the bottom of the article they posted the ballet video that went viral earlier this year to Hozier's Take Me To Church, which I'd seen months ago, and I watched it again.  It struck me how that song was played over and over and over again on the radio back when it came out.  I liked the song.  I felt it was moving.  I enjoyed when it came on the radio.  But the forces of consumption require new things to take the place of older things and that song was eventually taken out of the regular play cycle, relegated to who knows where.  I haven't heard it on the radio once in months.

Perhaps it's the time of year.  Consumerism runs rampant during the holidays.  I can barely listen to ads they're so obnoxiously pushy about selling me All The Things.  Events like Black Friday and the general climate anywhere near a shopping center this past week make me disheartened.  I don't get the need to buy things for people that they don't need, just because it's a thing we do.  I understand that giving gifts communicates love.  I'm not a gift love language person, so gift giving is relatively unnecessary in my world anyway, but I understand the concept of showing love through giving, whether it's items or time or acts of service, etc.  But that being said, Christmas these days seems like an extension of our fast fashion, fast food, made-to-break (so you can upgrade), cultural obsession with consuming more more more.  Kids want the new toy from the super popular kids movie that came out that year, marketed to them during their cartoons, plastered on their cereal boxes, blasted in their eyes and eardrums at every possible moment.  You have to have this movie and all associated toys.

Christmas makes it super obvious, and it gets a bad reputation for it's transparent consumerism here in the states, but really, it's just a symptom of the culture we've created that devalues everything so that we feel like we must buy more.  Clothes aren't designed to last more than a year or two because, well, they won't be in style after that, and because it's easier to sell you ten cute dresses that are cheap than one nicely made dress that costs more.  And the goal?  Sell you things.  Lots of them.  So businesses create a system in which things are designed to break or become obsolete.  Why do we need a new phone every year when the old one is perfectly functional.  Waste from our discarded tech toys is filling up landfills all over the world.  3rd world countries don't even want our old second hand clothes anymore.  There are simply too many of them and they are too poor of quality.

Dan and I haven't done much in the way of Christmas gift giving in the four years we've been married.  Neither of us are gift giving love language people, and we feel a bit silly giving each other things neither of us need.  That might change when we have kids.  Christmas morning is a pretty magical experience as a kid, I will admit.  But I'd rather foster my kid's sense of creativity and wonder through their presents, by getting them things like art supplies, building sets, and books, rather than toys from a movie that will go out of fashion in 6 months.  I know, I'll be singing a different tune when my kid is dying for THE toy from THE movie in 2020.  The most noble parent is the one with no kids.

Still, I want to opt out of the consumption madness.  I want life to revolve around making things and being content with what we have (which is so so so much).  I want memories of times spent together, not silly gadgets unwrapped around a gussied up fir tree.  I want to hear music on the radio that came out last year, or even 6 months ago. I want to create a world where musicians don't get chewed up and spit out after their big hit starts to fade from the charts because the next viral song is amping up.  A world where fads in fashion don't change every few weeks because someone in a factory in Bangladesh that's one tremor away from collapse can pump out H&M's new trend capsule in a week flat.  A world where kids aren't targeted by ads telling them to want want want need need need.  I want that world.  I need that world.  I'm not sure how to create it, but for now I know I can opt out of the consumption as best as I can.  Consume less.  Create more.

(gr)attitude

(gr)attitude

I hope you guys, whether you're celebrating the holiday or not, are cozied up with your loved one(s) today.  While Thanksgiving itself has a troublesome history, giving thanks and expressing gratitude is always a wonderful idea and that's what I'm spending this day doing.  There is so much to be thankful for.  I'm most thankful for my sweet love and our little floof.  They bring me so much joy and happiness on a daily, hourly basis, I can't imagine life without these two

Living in the Pacific Northwest and being a part of a creative community puts me into contact with so many incredible artists, entrepreneurs, and makers.  One of those people is Tiarra Sorte and last Saturday we met up here in Tacoma for an in-home photo session.  Dan and I hadn't had photos of us together (other than tripod photos that I took of us) since our wedding, and I wanted to have photos of just us together before we decide to make a tiny human.  We've also been talking about moving to Seattle sometime next year for a new adventure, and so I wanted to have photos in our very first (owned) home.  

sacred femininity

Perfect Fall Outfit | Liz Morrow
The response to Wildbride has been so wonderful!  Everyone has been so encouraging and I'm so excited for it to grow and to expand and bring it even further than the west coast!  My favorite thing about Wildbride is that every woman comes to me with a story of why they want to do a Wildbride shoot.  Each one is so beautiful, and it feels really special and honoring to be trusted with those stories.  I think sometimes as women we're used to hiding our stories.  So often in movies and television the main stories being told are men's stories, or the stories of women surrounding men.  It's not very often that we hear women's stories purely told by women, about things that are central to being a woman moving through the world.  Sure, sometimes that involves men because men are humans who we interact with, but there is so much more to women's stories than how men fit into those stories.  

Sometimes I get men joking with me saying things like, "why aren't men allowed to do Wildbride shoots?  I want a Wildgroom shoot, LOL!" and it makes me pretty salty.  Like, hey guys, can this one thing not be about you?  This is a space for sacred femininity and you are not invited.  Go find a photographer whose calling is creating photos for sacred masculinity, that's great.  But I'm not that photographer and I'm not about that.  I feel like it can be hard for women to feel comfortable and safe enough to be vulnerable with their stories, bodies, and femininity.  A lot of women have been injured by men, physically or emotionally, and the idea of men being allowed to enter into the Wildbride space creates a space that is no longer safe for women to be vulnerable in that way.  The thing I love about Wildbride is that it's for women.  It was designed and crafted to be for women.  Something magical happens when women are around other women.  Walls come down, hearts open, laugher reverberates.  

Perfect Fall Outfit | Liz Morrow
Perfect Fall Outfit | Liz Morrow
Perfect Fall Outfit | Liz Morrow Perfect Fall Outfit | Liz Morrow
Perfect Fall Outfit | Liz Morrow
Perfect Fall Outfit | Liz Morrow
Perfect Fall Outfit | Liz Morrow Perfect Fall Outfit | Liz Morrow
Perfect Fall Outfit | Liz Morrow
Perfect Fall Outfit | Liz Morrow

All items thrifted or old.  Photos by me | Liz Morrow Studios

my hairy body: an exploration of personal and cultural conceptions surrounding women's body hair

Female Body Hair: Love it or Leave it?, Arm Pit Hair on Women

This summer I decided to take on a "project."  I called it a project because I didn't really know what else to call it.  An experiment?  I'm not sure.  What I was sure about was wanting to see my body in its natural state.  I thought to myself how weird it would be to go my entire life never seeing my body in an un-hairless state.  In an untouched state.  I'd talked about body hair on the blog before, but I'd never jumped into the deep end and stopped removing hair altogether.  I had always been an au-natural gal when it came to "below the belt," if you will, but letting my legs and armpits run wild was something I'd never considered for myself.  Shaving seemed to be, well, just something I did.  Just... because.  But "just because" seems like a really odd reason to do something for your entire life without thinking about it.  I started to feel strange about the patriarchal pressures on women and how they've influenced us in ways that we don't even think about any more.  I wanted to see if I could feel beautiful and love my body as it was naturally.  

Could I?  The answer turned out to be way more complex than I anticipated.  I went into the "project" with feminist spirits high, feeling pretty gung-ho and "fuck the patriarchy, yeah!!"  As my little hairs grew I'd continue going to the gym in tank tops, rocking my baby pit hairs with (a bit of) confidence.  But as it went on, I started feeling less and less confident.  It's not something that is subtle, especially for a lady with thick, dark hair.  Perhaps it has something to do with my introversion, but I got to the point where I just didn't want to risk having a stranger bring it up and have to talk about it.  

Another side affect was that I became hyper aware of other women's shaved legs.  I did this over the Summer, which might seem like ridiculous timing, and it probably was, but it really starkly highlighted how different I was, or at least felt.  I'd see girls with short shorts and tank tops and envision their body with hair and how that'd look.  I knew I didn't like the way it looked, the hair.  And my conflicting emotions about it all were frustrating.  I hated that I'd been brainwashed to see my body and the bodies of other women as unattractive when sporting their natural body hair.  I thought about how ridiculous it was that women were "gross" for going unshaven, but men were "normal."  I felt ragey, sad, annoyed, self-conscious.

Female Body Hair: Love it or Leave it?, Arm Pit Hair on Women
Female Body Hair: Love it or Leave it?, Arm Pit Hair on Women

Early on in the project I'd sought out psychological studies on women's body hair in our culture.  I was feeling such strong emotions about it I couldn't imagine there hadn't been studies on this phenomenon, especially because I knew there were incredibly strong reactions to women's body hair by both men and women.  I ended up finding a study that was recently conducted which actually paralleled my own project.  

The first part of the study just collected responses from a diverse cross-section of women regarding body hair.  By and large their impression was that removing body hair was a choice that women had, but that they'd almost always choose to do it and the consensus among the women was that it was undesirable, un-hygienic, or even disgusting to not shave.  

The second part of the study was experiential.  Women in an upper level women's study course were offered an extra credit assignment–– don't shave for 10 weeks.  They were to journal about it, record their own reactions and others' reactions.  One of the big impressions the participants noticed was that shaving felt very compulsory.  While in theory it is a "choice," the reality felt very different.  Not shaving was much harder in practice than many of them anticipated.  Quite a few received extremely negative reactions from loved ones and significant others communicating undesirability, inability to find or keep a mate, and social pressures.  

I was very thankful for Dan's positive reaction to the project.  He was all for it, which I was not anticipating.  I figured he'd be intrigued by it and think it was interesting but prefer my shaved self. Instead, he constantly expressed unwavering love and physical attraction, regardless of the presence of hair.  I didn't have much conversation with my parents about it, though my mom did express that it was important for my husband to find me physically attractive and that if not shaving was unattractive, then I should maybe just shave to please him for the health of our relationship.  My women friends are all radical chicks so they were stoked on it.  Dusty had no notable opinion.

One situation I found myself torn in was my professional life.  I was photographing a wedding on a hot day and normally I would've worn a sleeveless, knee-length black dress, but I realized that my clients and/or their guests might think that I didn't care enough about the event because I hadn't even bothered shaving.  Or just that body hair was unprofessional and unsightly.  It reminded me a lot of the conversation surrounding ethnic women's natural curly hair in the workplace and how it's often seen as unprofessional, messy, and unruly.  I've never worked somewhere that gave me that impression for my curly hair, but I definitely felt that pressure with my body hair.  I was worried my clients would see it as rude or unprofessional.  I wore tights and a blazer with my dress.  Is my work the right time and place to fight the patriarchy?  Do I risk bad reviews or unhappy clients over this?  More questions.  

Female Body Hair: Love it or Leave it?, Arm Pit Hair on Women Female Body Hair: Love it or Leave it?, Arm Pit Hair on Women
Female Body Hair: Love it or Leave it?, Arm Pit Hair on Women

I didn't go into the project with an end date in mind.  After reading the study, 10 weeks seemed like a good period of time, but I didn't keep track, though I think it ended up being about that long.  Maybe a little less.  I didn't go into the project planning on doing it forever, though I thought it could be a possibility.  It felt like caving to the patriarchy, to our weird over-sexualized culture, to shave.  I knew I wasn't a "failure" because there was neither winning or losing, I'd just wanted to experience my body in its natural state, but I still felt like I was crawling back to the abusive master in a way.  I want to (someday) raise kids who see natural women and don't think of them as abnormal, weird, or gross.  Does that mean having body hair myself?  How can I tell them one thing and live another?  Ugh.

It was weird to shave again, but also felt kind of relieving.  Back to being "normal."  Back to the routine.  Back to not having to think about my body hair every day.  Aside from social pressures, there were some other reasons I wanted to shave again.  For one, my armpits stank real bad.  I work out pretty hard 5-6 days a week for 1 hour a day and it was incredible how much more my body smelled.  I've heard that Americans are just not used to smelling their own body scent and that when you're surrounded by it constantly it goes unnoticed. This makes sense to me.  I used to ride horses and I was so acclimated to the smell of the barn that I didn't even notice it, but after I came from the barn people could smell the horse on me like whoa because they weren't used to it.  

Strike two: my legs were so. itchy.  Also: in the summer walking around outside I just felt like I had bugs on my legs  c o n s t a n t l y.  I was on high alert for spiders all the time.  I missed smooth legs and putting lotion on and having soft skin.  I actually felt more self conscious of my leg hair than my armpit hair which seemed opposite of most things I'd read.  

And lastly, Burlesque.  I'll be honest, I really want to do a hairy-girl-political-statement-act.  And I think someday I still will.  But it's definitely a statement and I'm doing an act for a show on Halloween and I didn't want it to be about the body hair.  It's frustrating to me that having hair makes everything about the hair.  Like, why can't it just be?  Why does it have to be a political statement.  Can't it just be normal?  But it's not.  Not here, not yet.  "Well, you should be part of shifting the norm by rocking the hair."  Yeah, I know.  I'm not sure if I'm there yet.  

Does shaving mean I hate my body?  That I'm supporting an oppressive, anti-woman, patriarchal, over-sexualized culture?  Do I feel like I'm a bad feminist for choosing to shave?  Part of me feels like the answer is sort of, "yes."  I don't know if I'm able to overcome the programming that makes me want to shave, feel compelled to shave.  Maybe it's just going to be a matter of raising girls and boys who don't feel compelled to shave, who aren't programmed to feel like female body hair is anything other than normal and regular.  Who knows.  I think I raised more questions within myself than answers in the past few months.

I did a couple photo shoots over the months I was growing my hair.  I think some times we need to work shit out through our art and photography helped a bit.  This is the last self portrait shoot I did with my hair grown out.  Looking at these photos is so odd to me because I'm not all that bothered seeing it in photos.  I feel very separated from it, in a way.  Some people may think it's disgusting, some people may think it's amazing.  I'm still working on figuring out how I feel about it all, but in a way I'm happy to free up the brain space I spent brooding over my hairy feminist badge of honor for other creative thoughts and ideas.  Huge props to you ladies who rock it.  I'm still working on getting to that point, but I have a whole new respect for women who let their body hair flag fly.  Lately there are more and more conversations surrounding women's bodies, and issues like how women's natural bodies are seen as undesirable, and I feel a subtle shift.  Women taking back ownership of their bodies, challenging the status quo.  While, for the time being, I'm back to being back in my mostly-shaven body, I hope that the conversation continues and we keep pushing back against patriarchal systems and social structures that marginalize women.

Female Body Hair: Love it or Leave it?, Arm Pit Hair on Women
Female Body Hair: Love it or Leave it?, Arm Pit Hair on Women