"Eyeliner as black as my heart, lipstick as red as the blood of my fallen enemies... my fall look today is winged eyeliner, plum lipstick, and a look on my face like I’m fucking your boyfriend and can’t wait for you to find out... I need a drink and a shade of lipstick that will put the fear of God in a man’s heart... she smiles like she knows when the world will end. Or that she’ll be the one to end it."
This piece deals with the image and the self. Using the often sardonic vows and aesthetics of weaponised femininity and violence,* there is a serious character to reclaim here. Smokey eyeshadow shades her eyelids alongside the bruises that shade her temple. Blood-red lipstick flames alongside the dripping of its real counterpart. She is content this way. She has the power to make you think of what has happened, to question, or to be convinced by what she is. She has the power.
She might be a lady. She might be a victim. She might be a fighter. She might be everything or nothing. She has the power.
Self-presentation always twists with actual self. Is how we look and act really true to who we are? What if you were to take that into exaggeration, and then into reality – you were a survivor, battered but never beaten, still living and determined to be dressed up and not put down? What if you decided to embody that physically, confront the world with it? What if your story is one of hurt and of elegant strength? Your wounds might be as special or essential to you as your ability to move past them. There never seems to be enough room in the world for stories about both, especially for women. Her story is hers to love or hate, to hide or to show.
We know the fighter story. Just blood. Just bruises.
We know the elegant story. Just the cosmetic, the sometime warpaint. A smile.
Which makes us more uncomfortable?
One, or both?
She might be a lady. She might be a victim. She might be a fighter. She might be everything or nothing. Let her be whatever she is. She has the power.
The accompanying song is Bertolt Brecht’s Pirate Jenny, covered magnificently by Nina Simone. The piece wasn’t developed with the song in mind, but rather a listening of it after reaped some nicely dark parallels. It’s a woman’s story too, one of a small town hotel girl’s vengeance.
She could be a victim, a fighter.
You gentlemen can say, "Hey gal, finish them floors! Get upstairs! What's wrong with you! Earn your keep here!” You toss me your tips and look out to the ships; but I'm counting your heads as I'm making the beds.
She could be a lady.
You gentlemen can wipe off that smile off your face cause every building in town is a flat one… only this cheap hotel standing up safe and sound… you yell, "Why do they spare that one?"
You see me stepping out in the morning looking nice. With a ribbon in my hair.
She could be both.
They move in the shadows where no one can see and they're chainin' up people and they're bringin' em to me, askin' me, "Kill them NOW, or LATER?"
I’ll say: right now.
Then they pile up the bodies and I'll say,
"That'll learn ya!"
In any case.
*Further experiences of weaponised femininity:
My online scrapbook collection: imperfecthope.tumblr.com/tagged/irene+adler+vibes/
A mixtape and accompanying artwork I made: tessconnellanjournal.tumblr.com/post/74326170912/lipstick-of-blood-a-kickass-ladies
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