Is this me I’m looking at?

Today I made a walk round the block with my daughter. On just an ordinary Sunday late afternoon with the intention to visit a garden in the neighborhood and after that drink a beer at the café where I spend some of my days while researching and writing on my new novel. I seem to run on one café per novel.

I took my photo camera with me as I do quite often these days. I knew the garden was beautiful and when I’m together with Eva I also know that inspiration might start flowing. The pictures simply get better with the right company and I just love it when she comes along taking her sketchbook with her to work on some sketches. I see her work improving when allow ourselves to discuss it.

photo © Eva Verheij 2012

And sometimes we take photos of each other. So she made a couple of photos of me and one of these surprised me when I saw the result. Because of the neutrality of it. Many thoughts went through my head and I couldn’t get a grip on what it is that brings emotion to me while looking at my own photo.

At the cafe it did some post production editing on some of the photos and I am quite happy with a few of them. There is a series of water drops on leaves with amazing colors and some surprises in them that I will publish on Facebook as a series. The title will be ‘Emma’s Tears’ because I associate the drops on the leaves with tears and the photos were taken at ‘Emma’s Hof’ (Emma’s Court) close by.

‘Naked’ photo © Alice Verheij 2012

And while looking at the result of this photo escapade in the early hours of the night one photo drew my attention. It took a while but then all of a sudden it hit me. It’s a photo of a tulip in the wind unveiling it’s inner parts through the gaps in between the flowers leaves and through the sunlight that falls on the flower. For some reason I felt a parallel between the photo Eva made of me and the photo I made of the flower. The words describing that parallel is: fragility and vulnerability.

Because that is what I see when looking at myself on the photo made by my daughter. I can see that I have aged over the past few years. Quite rapidly. I can see that I’ve lost so much of all the layers encapsulating me. Looking at this photo I see myself emotionally naked. All the non relevant things have gone and what’s left is a face that shows vulnerability. A fragile face with traces on it of experiences that have been difficult. An when I look into my own eyes I see pain and a kind of softness that does not connect with the image I had of myself. The image of a strong woman who can do it all and who cannot be brought down.

The past evening Eva and I watched the movie ‘Untouchables’ and I realized that it must be easy to get hurt in the situation of both main characters and that it must be just as easy for me to get hurt. Because I lack the defense against bad times. Maybe that’s the reason why my next book is about a young and beautiful woman who was a great model in Victorian times but who had to face the reality of life, the reality of growing old in a difficult situation.

Things seem so much connected these days. What I do and make, how I write, the photos I take and even the music I listen to and the films I watch. I feel like that tulip, vulnerable and visible. I guess that’s what happens to some people at a certain moment in their life. And I feel tired of the fight for my existence in the past decade.

Alice © 2012

Media stigmatization of women.

Please just take a look at the following photo.

I guess that most people will see a beautiful woman. Some people will probably see that it’s a photo of Audrey Hepburn the 20ht century moviestar. Fashionistas will most probably see Audrey as the Dior woman she was: stylish and feminine. And I wouldn’t be surprised if some people, probably most of them men, will see a woman with gorgeous legs.

Now look at the following screenshot made from the homepage of, one of the most visited news websites in the Netherlands.

In this case we see a pair of pretty good looking legs and a policeman. The text next to the photo read in Dutch ‘Large police action human trafficking Eindhoven.’ The byline reads ‘Distric Attorney’s office has information on abuse prostitutes.’

Apart from the loose use of the Dutch language by leaving out ‘unneccessary’ words the text next to the picture has a weird type of stigmatization connected to it. As if women with great legs wearing black stockings are prostitutes. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a male editor with a fetish for black lingerie ans stockings who made this news item.

The crazy thing is of course that somehow the second image is supposed to make the reader do a mental jump and let him or her associate it with prostitutes. It is of course an all too common way of manipulation of thought by the media. And also a very mysoginistic approach of the female image. Sexism is the word and stigmatization. It demontrates very clearly the juvenile approach to woman in general in the media. Because is does not stand on its own. No one can let me believe that the image on the side of the trucks of Hünkemöller, the lingerie reseller, is like it is because it’s the women who like to see this. Ok, personally I do like it a lot. No, that add on a truck was made from a male perspective and when people say it’s sexist I guess they’re absolutely right.

Now, I don’t mind a little sexyness in advertising and media. Absolutely. After all I love women, sorry guys. But what I don’t like and actually disapprove is news media that sexualize feminity and use that to label women as whores. It’s cheap, it’s stupid and it’s an appaling way to make news. Media stigmatizes women and does that by imaging like the above photo. And whether the guys believe it or not but if I wear sexy lingerie, stockings and maybe even garters or anything like that, I do that because I like it. Like most other women who do so, not because I’m a whore.

Alice © 2012