Friday 22 June 2007

My identity and clothing

Because this project requests others to inner self-reflect and share their perceived identities with others, I feel that it is only sensible to do the same.

After writing on my reflections of identity, I asked myself, who am I? I am a student, I am a photographer, I am a researcher, I am a friend, I am a mother and I am Susan.

Of course, here in Jerusalem I am a stranger, a tourist, and a tenet. Some consider me as an activist, a journalist and others still view me as an archaeologist.

I have already included photographs of my archaeological world and my abode. I have included photographs of the streets that I walk down and of the wall that I am interested in.

What you cannot see are the recordings of the call to prayer, the siren for Shabbat or the church bells on Sunday. In photography, you cannot see the sounds, or listen to the wind; you cannot feel the heat or the evening breeze.

I live in E. Jerusalem, where one “should” dress modest in respect to the Christians, the Jews and the Muslims who all reside together. But not only in respect to the religious branches but also to one self. Unless of course, you are a woman who is not feeling very attractive, a bit down in the dumps and need to know that you “still have what it takes” to get some looks….Let me tell you, E. Jerusalem is the place to boost up your “ego” and feel like a queen in beauty! Here is an example:

Today I have trying to catch up on some writing on the Rwandan conflict, a much-needed assignment that is very very late! I needed to go 1.5 blocks down the hill to buy some chocolate milk. I was wearing a nice cool summer dress for the 35-degree weather. I slipped on my sandals and contemplated if I should not cover myself better. (It is a residential area, but many cars drive on the street where I walk) I felt a bit lazy and thought to myself, aughh it’s only a few blocks. I can just run down there, grab my milk and come right back. Its not that I am tromping down Salah A Din!

As soon as I stomped down the long flight of stairs, opened the gate and put my right foot onto the sidewalk. A car just stopped right in front of me, I glanced inside and the man who was alone in the car just stared at me. I shooed him away and shook my head. Not to mention speeding up the pace of my steps towards the sanctity of the market. I continue on the adventure, feeling a bit naked? A car slows down, and another one, a car honks their horn, another car turns around to drive by again. I am not THAT Beautiful, I think to myself. Geez.

These actions, were not those of beauty causing a car accident, they were of being inappropriately dressed, a request for looks, and a demand for attention and so dearly out of place.

I learned my lesson. Now I understand what it is like to have to go out, all covered up in 25-degree weather, arms, legs and all while sweating up a storm. Only to rush to the home and remove all the clothing to cool off and dress like one should on a hot summer day.

Today my identity is a foreigner who wanted to hold on to her core self, by dressing according to the weather and not the cultural environment. Today, I was in rebellion to pushing my being aside and compromising with those around me.

I was also a beautiful woman walking down the street!

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