Then, in my thirties, I hit a wall. When friends asked, “What are you wearing this year?” He would reply, “I am the costume of the future! My job is to perfect the details of who I am. ”It was a joke, but also a response to the fact that I had looked at me all my life, because of my curved spine, orthopedic boots, arrhythmic limping, short movements – in short, everything, because of which I was unacceptable.I felt that no matter what I was wearing, the spectators were just subtracting the costume from my body.What was the point of putting a monster over a monster?
Why do I say “monster?” Because that’s how I was treated.
Now, however, I claimed for myself that he was a “monster”. I wrote the book “The Golem Girl,” which came out last year. In it, I follow the history of the legend of the Golem and how the concept of an artificially constructed creature was woven into Western culture. This is how I see myself – as a rough body made of clay, a being both built and born.
Halloween is, of course, monster time. Creatures with damaged bodies, faces with scars, clumsy gaits, missing limbs; animals that salivate, emit miasms, bleed, leak, show psychiatric conditions that place them beyond acceptable society. Frankenstein (golem); his bride (huge); Borg (Golem and also Mr. Data); Dracula (infectious); Wolfman (infectious); Darth Vader, Captain Hook (amputees); Freddy Krueger (facial distortion and mental illness) bom I will stop there. If I were to list all the disabled villains, I would be here until I was Golem but a ghost.
One real disabled person who appears in costumes – on Halloween and all year long, if that matters – is Frida Kahlo. But I would never have known she was disabled, injured from a wheelchair collision at a young age, and later from surgery, gangrene, and chronic pain. A search of “Frida Kahlo costume” reveals hundreds of Frid in her Tehuana dresses, Frida holding cigarettes and monkeys, Frida’s eyebrows, Frida’s flower crowns, even Beyoncé as Frida – but not a single back brace, plaster, cane or prosthetic leg during him.
I first came across Frida Kahlo’s work 40 years ago when, as a young painter, I was looking for a visual language that would allow me to explore my own experience. Her work has shown me that disability can be portrayed with beauty and honesty. I know that Frida asserted her allegiance to her Mexican heritage in Oaxaca clothes, but I think she also found poetry in the loss of her body. The more it hurt her, it seems to me, the more she adorned herself than to send prayers for joy. Her costumes allowed her to look the way she wanted – and as desirable.
She knew, as I know, it’s so hard to leave the house if you don’t want to be seen. Open my closet. You won’t see any set sweeping the floor, but there are a lot of unusual clothes. Dramatic black coats. Jackets with light prints. Evening dresses with beads and sequins, including a bright red formal dress with a cape on the shoulders. Three velvet cocktail dresses (one sprinkled with pearls). Clothes that are the opposite of hiding.
The most eloquent are my boots – black leather to the knees with thick soles. The left is a few inches taller than the right, due to my considerable difference in leg length. When I was a kid, I tried to hide those legs, to deny that I wore huge orthopedic devices. But the Golem is strong only when he walks the world, not when he hides in the dark. So now I decorate my boots with a whole wardrobe of laces, from the rainbow flag Pride-Flag to gold-silver glitter.