Dickinson College Humanities Program in Norwich

I got it from my mama

September 1st, 2009 · 9 Comments

Since I’ve studied Italian for five years, hearing that we had to attend an Afro-Caribbean version of Carnevale caused me to instantly form a few preconceptions. I mistakenly thought that they would be similar; the parade’s commencement immediately smashed this idea. I’ve never seen a gathering so crowded and openly risqué. The sheer number of people was staggering to me, as were the number of food options. I could barely keep up with all that I saw as I was walking, and I enjoyed taking in the smells, sounds, and culture in general.

One thing that irked me, however, was the role of the women in the parade. Scantily clad and dancing in high heels, they wore a full face of makeup and clearly had put a lot of effort into their appearance. They all strutted down the street confidently and didn’t mind posing for pictures. I can’t decide whether I think they were liberated or confined by their role in the parade.

On the one hand, these women line up almost exactly to societal standards of sexuality. Their unnatural appearances reminded me of magazine ads: airbrushed, changed, and deliberate. They literally covered only the barest necessities of their bodies, and there is no doubt in my mind that they were sexualized, both by the parade in general and the infinite number of gazes upon them. Everything from the way that they looked to the way that they moved exuded sensuality.

However, they were entirely unbothered by it. Perhaps their ability to flaunt their bodies in such a way was actually a form of liberation. Some of the women were far from the stick-thin models we are pressured to look like, yet they still flaunted their assets, no pun intended. The fact that they were able to put society’s standards for women (which are normally at least somewhat hidden) completely on display was very interesting. None of them showed the slightest glimpse of shame or regret for their actions, and their confidence was almost inspiring.

I think their role in the parade can be seen as a release, but I’m curious to hear what others thought.


Tags: Amy