Much of the magic of bodies lies in the variety within each species. And I have an impression that those differences become more and more divergent with age. However, there is also a parallel process of knowing ourselves better.
Despite all the clichés regarding the ailments-centered conversations of the elderly, it is a great topic because it is a way of revealing ourselves to others. Body complaints are a simple way of saying “to get closer to me, you should know that I sleep little, I do not digest milk well, and I get a headache before thunderstorms.” Obviously, these conversations are a bit like telling dreams: ours matter a lot while those of others tend to be quite boring.
Our body is of vital importance, of course. Hence the constant and increasingly conscious body scanning. I find it so fascinating that the body seems to occupy 0% of our attention when everything is fine and almost all of it when something fails. That is why I speak of being so comfortable in your clothes that you forget what you are wearing, it is the best indication that you are really comfortable.
All this has come to my mind because I wore sandals for the first time this summer, and my ankles very clearly communicated that this pair won’t be tolerated anymore.
I never thought of my ankles until 2017. But in September of that year I had a sprain that changed everything. Seems that there was a treatment failure right at the beginning, and now there are lifelong consequences. I have limitations in certain swimming styles, in certain yoga poses and in footwear. I had almost always preferred flats and sneakers, but it was just that, an aesthetic and political preference. Now it has become a real need and an acute awareness that it is something I must pay attention to.
My current sandals are this fake pink Birkenstock pair that I very happily picked up at a clothes swap just as my previous ones were disintegrating (that pair got an entire post here). It was September 2019, I got to wear them six times before the end of the season and a lot more – 50 times – last year. They were never perfectly comfortable but my ankles weren’t complaining.
I have put them on twice in the past week and have been warned that it is not a good idea. My ankles have told me loud and clear that those sandals should get out of my closet and that the only sandal that will be accepted here will be something more orthopedic. And I have to obey, my daily well-being depends on not ignoring these warnings.
What are the requests of your body? Yes, in plural because you probably have several. There are the ones you were born with and acquired ones, there are more or less annoying ones but every body has needs that deserve to be heard and accommodated.
What have you done for the good of your body recently?
To disabuse you from the profoundly flawed idea that businesses and philanthropists are here to change the world read Anand Giridharadas’ Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World (2018).
One day last September, while reading Odell and Chayka, I got into an internet hole reading up about the validity of the mythical place that Thoreau’s Walden has in the imagination of the modern minimalist and, connected to that, the apparently very important question regarding Thoreau’s laundry, so here you have Rebecca Solnit in 2013 (Mysteries of Thoreau, unsolved) and Kathryn Schulz in 2015 (Why Do We Love Henry David Thoreau?). And the latter drove the internets mad: In Defense of Thoreau, Everybody Hates Henry David Thoreau and In Defense of Henry David Thoreau. Long story short? The books you think you know might not be what you think they are.
I am very easily excited about actual innovations and at the same time very skeptical of them ever becoming ubiquitous, here is an example of that mix: Turning Off The Tap On Fashion’s Wastewater
And that’s it for this week! I hope that you enjoyed reading and would be very happy to hear from you, regarding bodies or anything else… in the comments below, via Facebook or Instagram, or via e-mail at luize.ratniece [a] gmail .com
Guardarrr is a weekly bilingual newsletter dedicated to sustainability and mindfulness in fashion. It is written by Luīze Ratniece, a sociologist and textile activist based in Barcelona. Guardarrr is both a tool for reflection and a crowdfunding channel for the wardrobe tracking app that Luīze is building. If you read this newsletter and value it, please consider going to the paid version to fund this project for a monthly equivalent of a coffee + pastry. Each subscription warms my heart immensely and helps going on, thank you so much for being here with me!