Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

06 Feb 2005, 21:48 p.m.

The Flesh Is Weak

Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2005 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.

I neither wanted nor needed to keep the mannequin limbs, so I gave them to a friend of a friend and they will probably end up decorating a nightclub.

I kept the legs covered with my spare clothing until I put them into the car. I enjoy seeing the human form celebrated in art, but I don't feel comfortable carrying nude fake body parts on the street, be the medium plastic or marble.

Yesterday evening, while reconnecting with old acquaintances, I watched a belly dancer and joked that an authentic Middle Eastern belly dancer would wear a burqa. Hours later, I saw several women wearing very low-cut shirts. I actually warned one of them that her right breast was threatening to escape its minimum-security prison. She thanked me and adjusted her display levels. In my memory the red of her tank top arrests my vision. It seems bad user-interface design to make a tank top that can't hold in a woman's chest, but the tank top does implement good UI for the rest of us; we understand and quickly process the wearer's self-labeling as sexually available.

When I read What They Did to Princess Paragon, before anyone had ever told me I was gorgeous, I agreed with one character's argument that Amazonian superheroines would either go nude for comfort or dress warmly. As a binary-minded pragmatist, I welcome the victory of form over function in women's clothing. But now I also want to attract glances, once in a while, and can clumsily calculate the signals I send in draping different cuts of fabric over my flesh. I know that eros comes from stimulus and mystery, that desire can be like a spark that only catches fire if I act the miser with its kindling.