The* way we saw it when we were in our 20s, femininity had to be about toughness and independence. Manicures were for Stepford Wives, high heels a sure sign of mental deficiency. Our role models were Siouxsie, Blondie, Aimee Mann, the Throwing Muses, Nina Hagen, and while going out entailed fierce make-up, killer minis and torn fishnets, combat boots and some version of a motorcycle jacket were also de rigueur as we had to be ready for anything: being badder than the bad boys, walking miles in the snow, waiting for a train all night in sketchy company.
Mainstream fashion was an oppressive paradigm, its adepts little more than brainwashed sheep. We lived outside the box, and pitied our sisters who didn’t know any better than to take the likes of Vogue, Glamour, and Elle seriously. Of course we weren’t entirely deaf to the Condé Nast siren call, and mingled with our disdain was the fear that, in time, we might actually turn into one of those women: lapdogs…slaves to the male gaze…victims waiting to happen.
Then we started growing up…getting jobs…and one night I met Tatiana. In a cleverly tailored frock that both molded and revealed her perfect cleavage, she glided over the Crosby Street cobblestones in superb stilettos like some marvelous emissary from a future avant-garde. Sex in the City was still four years away and her look went against everything I stood for, yet without question Tatiana owned the mean streets in ways I couldn’t begin to fathom. I asked her, almost quivering with indignation: “Aren’t you scared to go out in those heels?” To which she answered serenely, giving me a rush I would never forget: “I am a woman. I am always in control.”
Now I’m in my 40s, and the sight of certain Roland Mouret and Alexander McQueen creations can move me practically to tears; my shoe fetish allows nothing under three inches into my closet, and my Vogue collection includes several issues from the 1930s belonging to my late grandmother, another fashion queen whose obsessions I clearly inherited. Along with this age came my pictures. They’re a gift of maturity: possible now that I’ve mastered my sexual power, therefore my style. Far from being a puppet acting out oppressive rituals of female enslavement, I find myself saying at each click of the shutter: I am a woman…I am always in control. And it gives me a rush every single time.
*esta nota en español