As a woman, I’m used to being observed.
Everywhere we go, we’re assessed, documented, judged, and noticed. Even in the most mundane things — taking a trip to the grocery store, leafing through a book at a book store, waiting to cross the street, going through security at the airport, sitting in the doctor’s office, ordering a coffee — we’re rarely granted the luxury of anonymity. We are relentlessly seen — not just by men, by everyone.
And being aware of, and then responding to that visibility is absolutely exhausting.
Even if we’re like, “Screw it. I’m going to go pick up some $5 merlot and tampons just like this — in the slippers grandma got me for Christmas, greasy, disgusting hair be damned,” we’re still painfully cognizant of the effort we didn’t make because other people reflect it back to us.
That’s why being at home, or even in the company of other women in some cases, feels like such an exhale. No one’s volleying their opinions back at us; there are no judgements to deflect. We are allowed to take up all the space we want with exactly who we are.
And let me tell you, it is glorious. I don’t care how happy your marriage or relationship or roommate living situation is, that moment when you are finally alone, or with people who aren’t trying to voyeuristically see you, is freedom.
And it is for that reason that I am absolutely in love with Sally Nixon’s illustrations.
Each one is a quiet acknowledgement that women’s lives, all the tiny, beautiful parts, are significant enough to document. That our aloneless does not make us less.
We don’t only exist in proportion to the gaze of other people.
If a tree falls in a forest and no one is there to see it, it does in fact make a sound. A loud, unapologetic boom.
These images make you feel like you’ve been let in on a secret. And you have.
This is us without you. And we are fine.
I am still interesting unmade-up. Stomach relaxed. Eating. Without you.
And thank God for that.