I don’t want to write a post that begins with, “I know I haven’t been posting as much substantive material as I’d like lately, but I’ve been BUSY, and…” But that is exactly what I am doing. I’m sorry. The truth is, I’ve been working a lot, doing some traveling (I am on the road as we speak.), and doing quite a bit of reading and research related to the topics I’ve been discussing here over the last few months. I haven’t dropped the ball. I swear.
I feel as though I am on the verge of putting something together (Oh, how often do creatives and divergent thinkers feel we are teetering on the edge of something transformational?), but it is still very much in-process. I would, however, not be able to forgive myself if I didn’t publish in the interim. And, if I waited until next week, when I will return home from my trip, too much time will have elapsed in order for me to justify my absence from The Used Life. That said, the rest of this post is made up of a train of thoughts. Thoughts intermingled with questions. No more and no less. If you have insights you’d like to share, please do. They may be exactly what I need.
I’d be lying if I said the phrase, “self-fashioning,” came from some sort of epiphany. Rather, like most good phrases, it took root in my mind innocuously as I was reading a biography of Coco Chanel. Self-fashioning. Such a good term. The kind of phrase that makes a writer’s imagination tingle with possibility. Now, if only I can figure out what it means. To fashion oneself. To mold oneself. To fuse the disparate parts of oneself, of one’s life. To make oneself into the person of one’s dreams. But, isn’t that what it means to create oneself? Isn’t that the very ethos of creative living? Yes and no. It is that plus.
The process of self-creation, I think, is different for women than it is for men. The more I read about and reflect on the writings of women who understand the subtleties of their nature, the more I am convinced that 1.) embracing our sensuality, our erotic selves, is imperative to living fully, creatively, and powerfully; and, 2.) the process is one of intellectual and intuitive fashioning, sculpting, alchemy.
Indeed, “alchemy” is a word I’ve recognized as prevalent in Anaïs Nin’s diaries for some time now. The alchemy of transforming one’s sexuality. Of overcoming internal and external obstacles. The alchemy involved in creating a stunning and impactful persona. (That’s why I made it an integral part of my concept for The Vixen Diaries.) Nin knew herself and possessed the rare ability to articulate that knowledge better than almost any of us. “Alchemy,” I think, is a fitting word for the transformations we need—and often perform—in an effort to become most fully ourselves.
And isn’t what I am trying to do here on The Used Life, anyway, by elevating the feminine traits and emotional experiences that I view as neglected by the masses? Am I not trying to perform my own kind of alchemy in transforming those often unarticulated and disparaged feelings into something valuable? Because they are valuable. They are critical.
When I think of what took Coco Chanel to the heights of fame, I am awestruck by her use of the same kind of alchemy, of self-fashioning, in building a fashion empire. It was not only her business acumen, but a vastly impressive knowledge of herself (and other women), plus an ability to wield her sexuality so effectively that the women who surrounded her wanted to be her that catapulted Chanel to success. She embodied her brand. Her personal essence, her intentional stylizations of her own sexuality, in conjunction with her knowledge of a similar need in other women, made her an icon.
I have to ask myself how many women recognize that we have within us the same capacities as Nin, as Chanel, though perhaps not to the same degree. How profoundly would we benefit from knowing that our sexuality is not only a cause for celebration, but a force to be commanded? And, how many of our feelings, of our internal experiences go unexamined, unlegitimized, simply because we don’t know how to talk about them?