My last blog entry about women’s krewes and the Women’s Movement 1960s and 1970s left out my amazement and admiration for the marching dancers. Their stamina! Their fitness and musicality! Girls and young women ages 10 and up run the gamut from wearing Peter Pan collar shirts with plaid skirts to marchers with tight, short team costumes and leotards to sequined, formfitting plunging neckline costumes, butts poking out, bare legs with boots. How do these young women descend almost to the street they dance on, swirl around and jump up out of crouching positions. So proud and free! Their freedom is palpable.
It’s stupefying for me, 77years old. I wear long pants and 3/4 or long sleeve tops—no short dresses—to cover up! I recently had to make myself put on a bathing suit to swim with my grandchildren and my daughter Jenn’s family and friends—because yes, I have to give myself time and prayer to knock out my reactive shame one more time. Body shame still shows up for me and all I can see is my loose flesh, swollen ankles mapped with purple veins. Is this a hangover from my teen decade when I swallowed down Dexedrine from ages 10 to 19? From the days of being weighed by stepfather and pediatrician? Here I am now full of gratitude for the beauty and functionality of my aging body!
These young women’s faces radiate with joy. It took many hours practice for them to get here, and my guess is that the discipline and physical exertion will serve them well. I chuckled when I saw two or three sit down on the street during a parade pause—exhausted! But they pop back up and continue to march when the floats rolled. Is their freedom an outcome of the Women’s Movement 1960s and 1970s?
Speaking of women, Newcomb Art Gallery at Tulane University where I graduated hosted an exhibit called Per (Sister): Incarceration Women of Louisiana. Thirty women bear their imprisoned selves to the world through art, writings, costumes, handwritten notes, photographs, staged prison areas, stories. They stage their own parade and talks and raise the consciousness of those of us who take in any part of their offerings. You can imagine that for those of us who have grown up privileged as I was in Uptown New Orleans many of us have a great deal to learn from these strong women. Hats off to Newcomb and Tulane for sponsoring this exhibit.