How To Practice Invisibility

From Plato’s shepherd to J.R.R. Tolkien’s Frodo Baggins to J.K. Rowlings’ Harry Potter, fictional characters granted the superpower of invisibility are almost exclusively male.
Female narratives of invisibility, it seems, can only ever be metaphorical and tragic. Many women experience aging as a compulsory disappearance act. There’s even an old hollywood film genre dedicated to it. Think of Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard or Bette Davis in The Star. Cautionary tales of fading film stars who at 40 shut themselves away in remote villas, unable to bear parting with their fans’ admiring gaze. 
 
“See what happens when all you care about is beauty?” These stories cruelly warn us. And we want to listen to them. To change our perceptions and transform our admirations. The young women we look up to today are much more than golden-ratio faces. They’re the smartest. The funniest. The bravest. The truest. We feel compelled to know their every idiosyncrasy: their wondrously odd taste in clothes; their singular artistic talents; their political opinions and actions; their skin regimes and blemishes; their honest poems; messy meals and bedroom decor. We care about their preferences and their flaws, their relationships and mental health issues. We want to take in so much more of them than beauty. But…wait a minute. Could it be that our captivation by these highly visible, shareable qualities is yet another form of looking? Could they even exist outside the realm of sight? In other words, can we love what we can’t see?
The important question isn’t so much about our habits of fandom but how these affect the young girls whom we watch so closely. People’s gazes are powerful. They posses a magnetic-like pull. What others notice about you might become the most important thing. The only thing, even. The parts of you that have eyes pointed at them — it’s like you feel their existence more strongly. I know I did, as a teenager. I still do sometimes. 
 
There’s no doubt that fighting for visibility is crucial for groups of people who are being socially  and culturally ignored. But isn’t simultaneously invoking invisibility’s mythical power just as important? Isn’t fighting for invisibility’s refuge just as crucial?
 

How? I’m not sure. But, I bet we’ll know it when we (don’t) see it. It isn’t necessarily about hiding, deleting your social media accounts or trying to ignore what you wear. It might have to do with cultivating mysterious practices that cannot be documented or noticed. Only felt. With allowing yourself to become immersed in whatever’s in front of you, disappear into it. With loving secretly in wifi-less spaces. With eating soft food while forgetting the world exists. It isn’t “dancing like nobody’s watching.” But, just dancing. Alone. In a room with no mirrors. Or filled with them, doesn’t matter. It’s about taking just as much pride in what you don’t share, can’t explain, and won’t remember. Getting excited about the tiniest secrets. Paying the closest attention to all of those precious parts of yourself that nobody will ever be able to see, touch, influence, harm, caress, or take away.

Share on

Facebook
Twitter
WhatsApp

Taken from Issue 02

Share on

Facebook
Twitter
WhatsApp

Taken from Issue 02

Share on

Facebook
Twitter
WhatsApp

More of the things that matter

Rare Poise

A modern label is draped in the elegance of yesteryear.

Hidden Revelation

Donning robe like fashions of undulating folds and layers, the photos are a study in thoughtful concealment.

Passion Fruit

The consumption of Mediterranean fruit reveals more than meets the eye.

Sand Castles

Oblivious to the power pulsing through their long legs, soft curves, swollen lips, teenagers in the desert tilt their heads toward the sun, until their bodies radiate the heat of the terrain.