The other day I posted the picture above of artist, milliner, reflexologist, and community chef Debra Rapoport on Facebook to mixed reviews. Most people commented on how they were constantly inspired by Debra’s creative expression and bold and artistic approach to adorning herself, while others left comments calling her a “freak show”, while describing her look as ridiculous and stupid.
My whole project is about creating a dialogue about aging, personal expression and vitality and I always encourage people to share their opinions, comment and become part of the conversation. I’ll never understand why some people are moved to leave such nasty comments with such little regard or awareness to the fact that the subject’s of the photos may be seeing these remarks. Does it come out of fear, self consciousness, wanting to teach someone a lesson, or rather a passionate display of what they are feeling in the moment? Each person will definitely not relate to or understand every outfit or person that I post, but I believe that there is a kind and constructive way to share our opinions. After the the negative comments were shared, people rallied in defense of Debra and advocated for a more positive manner of sharing critical feedback. Now it’s Debra’s turn to respond:
I dress for myself as a meditation first and then a creative statement. I can’t say it is fashion or trendy but that is not what I am about. I have always been an artist/sculptor and my body is part of the form. Growing up I was never told don’t do this, don’t wear that, put on a navy blue suit to be accepted and normal. I couldn’t do it. I felt abnormal and uncomfortable.
I don’t dress to turn heads or get attention. I do want to make a statement about the body and clothing. It is one of my means of expression. It is from an inner source even though it is an outer expression. It is my CREATIVITY. I do get looked at, sometimes stared at.
People often have a smile on their faces and wish to start a conversation. As Ari says the “3C’s” Creativity/Communication/Community…that is what will keep us vital and human. So people look up from their IPhones and actually make eye contact and we have an exchange. COMMUNICATION… we exchange cards and stay “friends”, COMMUNITY. So what could be better.
I don’t dress to be visible but if I get noticed it is a positive experience. Some people want to blend in and not be noticed. It might make them feel vulnerable to dress creatively. It is very personal. Some people think it is purposeless; it is showing off and egotistical. Many people would rather be anonymous for whatever reason – insecurity, shyness, not wanting to call attention to themselves. Some people are threatened feeling “why do we need to showoff”. I am not bothered by these thoughts or comments. I realize that some people are more reserved, conservative and stuck in an old paradigm of what “OLD” should look like. I have always lived in NYC, been an artist and been free in my thinking so this is who I am. I live at a time where one can self-express.
I don’t mind if I get laughed at. I don’t mind if I get ridiculed. If someone responds to me negatively or positively, I still feel empowered and complete. There are no rules to creativity.
Dressing “normally” doesn’t feel comfortable to me. I feel like I am inhibiting my creativity; stifling my energy.
I can dress simpler but not in jeans, T-shirt and hoody!! I need color, texture and layers. Maybe it is just habit since I have been doing it so long!
I have used recycled/re purposed materials since the 60’s. I believe there is so much “stuff” in our immediate environment that we can appropriate and use once we begin to look and see. It is for the fun, enjoyment and protection of the planet. This also keeps me stimulated, creative and joy filled.
Where there is creativity there are no rules. Where there are no rules there is no fear! -Debra Rapoport