Saturday, June 27, 2009
This week I visited the National Museum of African Art. I love staring and gazing into art; I often find myself getting lost in its mystery and beauty. There is no right or wrong answer or black-and-white with art. Everybody sees something different from their cultural lens. Lens that dont come off, they're embedded within all of us. Sometimes we can adjust or shift focus, but nevertheless we still peep through those same lens.
A major highlight for me was the notion of "Mami Wata." Mami Wata is an icon that takes on different identities for various individuals. With her roots founded in African and Caribbean culture, she represents a saint to some and an evil to others. Often symbolized as a mermaid, she is known as a water spirit who is even worshipped by many.
To others, she is viewed to be evil with her wiles and seductions to manipulate men. In my eyes, she merely represents another popular culture icon of women. Women are admired for their beauty and form, yet castigated to be seductive and manipulative if their beauty matches that of society's image. I feel that women are constantly under the watchful eye of the public; picked at when it fits one's purpose and admired when she's left unspoken.
American popular culture doesnt promote the image of beautiful women with brains. Instead, they advocate the notion of beauty in an unspoken silence that is simply cosmetic. And to that cosmetic effect, can be modified to fit society's image of "perfection." There isnt a single channel on television, where girls and women today can watch without being reminded of how they need or must change their looks or beauty. We are always being reminded that there's something "wrong" with us, and that we must work to fix that.
And if we do come to accept a woman's beauty as she is, we still find criticism in her motive. That one cannot be pure in intent and beauty. I think as we continue to breed this notion of corruption, it'll only spread. We must change the image we portray of women in media and inter-personally for little girls with their role models if we really want to be true agents of change. I strive to be a part of this revolution by aspiring to be the very same role model that I speak of... I know change begins with me.
"Cut your chains and you are free, cut your roots and you die."- African Proverb