Cabe column: A needed night of celebrating all things female
On Friday night, I watched a woman walk down the runway at the Green is the New Black Fashion Extravaganza sporting a white cloak with “nasty woman” scrawled in red on the back, and I noticed two men jump to their feet and applaud her as she strutted by.
Later, friends of mine who were in the audience said there were far more than just two men on their feet in that moment, but I hadn’t seen them through the tears welling in my eyes.
I was surprised by how emotional the moment made me; it was like a switch had flipped within me and I felt a sudden wave of relief. I was among sisters (and brothers) in arms against this new administration and what it stands for.
I can’t remember a time in my life when I’ve needed sisterhood more than right now.
The election of Donald Trump as president was such a personal blow to me as a woman. Trump has spent his entire life in the spotlight as a figurehead of misogyny, and now he is the figurehead of my country. What does that say about my worth in the eyes of my fellow Americans? Certainly nothing good. And that has been a painful idea to grapple with.
But on Friday and Saturday, at the fashion show themed “SHE,” I felt so full of hope and love. This was my third fashion show, and though I’ll never match the raw excitement I felt when I saw this incredible production for the first time in 2015, I can easily say this year’s was my favorite because its message was so very necessary.
Amy Kimberly, executive director of Carbondale Arts, said when she and her team came up with the theme, they were thinking the fashion show might take place during our first female president’s term. The fact that the election didn’t turn out that way only makes the theme, focused on womanhood and the breaking of gender norms, more poignant. Now, more than ever, I needed a night celebrating all things female.
And it was a joyous celebration, but it was also a night of incredible storytelling. Spoken word poetry accompanied projections and contemporary dances.
One dance in particular beautifully depicted the struggles and triumphs of motherhood, this divine experience that only women will ever know. Another dance brilliantly and bluntly laid out the gender norms that harm both men and women. “The rules are different for you,” a Siri-like voice flatly says, once to the men in the room, later to the women. This is true; the rules are different. But the damage from those rules can be described as separate but equal.
The clothing lines were also inspired by female empowerment and breaking gender norms, with some playing with the idea of androgyny, others examining hypersexualization in our culture and more.
Sitting on the bleachers on Friday, watching this incredible production unfold before me, I was overwhelmed with feelings of support and belonging. More than anything, I was just so grateful I was able to witness such a thought-provoking, challenging, inspiring show. My face flushed more than once throughout the night as I fought back tears of relief at the humanity I saw in front of me.
Thank you, Carbondale Arts and the massive team of models, dancers, designers, volunteers and community members who made this production a sold-out success and for spreading a message of love and determination to be better than we’ve been — during Women’s History Month, no less. It was just the inspiration this warrior queen needed to re-energize for the next four years of resistance.
Jessica Cabe is a former Post Independent arts and entertainment editor.
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