Friday, 9 March 2018

Women having their day. And hugging!

Yesterday was International Women’s Day. There were demonstrations in Vigo centre. lots of women with flags.

Almost every day is international something or other day.

The V & A in London is holding an exhibition of the belongings of Frida Kahlo, often held up as an example of a successful woman artist. Which of course she was, with her own style and exhibitions of her work all over the place. And yet I always have a sneaky suspicion of her not being quite so famous as her husband (later not her husband and then her husband again) Diego Rivera.

Her belongings - clothes, jewellery, makeup and her prosthetic leg - were sealed up in her house, the Blue House, for more than fifty years. This is the first time they are being seen outside of Mexico. After Frida Kahlo died in 1954, aged 47, Rivera locked up her belongings in a room and said it should not be opened until after his death. That in itself says something about his control over her. A sign of the times, I suppose.

In the event, it was not opened until 2004.

The thing is that Frida Kahlo herself was a work of art. She was injured in a near fatal bus crash and suffered great pain throughout her life. But she covered it all with her own distinctive style of dressing. Even her prosthetic leg was clad in a red leather boot. You have to admire the little woman. Many would just have given up!

 Frida Kahlo: Making Herself Up will be at the V&A from 16 June to 4 November. I must try to get there! I wonder if TheresaMay will go. After all, she has the bracelet!

Here’s something else. I read yesterday about doctors in the UK being warned not to hug patients, even when trying to comfort them as they give them bad news, because it may lead to legal action later!!!

I find it really strange. If you walk around the streets and see young people meeting, they hug each other far more than previous generations ever did. Girls in particular squeal their greetings and hug each other as if they had not met for years. But boys are not immune to this social contact thing. I can remember my brother being averse to hugging or kissing anyone, even family, for years after someone told him that only sissies kiss people. It all changed when he discovered girls but he was never a great hugger within the family. But now they all make physical contact on greeting.

So on the one hand we have young people hugging all over the show and on the other doctors being warned not to offer physical comfort to patients. And then there are the teachers, who are advised not to hug their pupils. Keep everyone at professional arm’s length! But now the mental health professionals are blaming many of the mental health problems of the modern age on precisely that lack of physical contact. Here’s an article about it.

We have a big loneliness problem: half a million older people in the UK, I read, go at least five days a week without meeting or touching a soul. And it’s not just in the UK. A Spanish friend of mine spoke to me recently about the number of elderly people in Vigo who live alone and rarely see anyone. Centres are being set up in some countries for people to go and be hugged.

Ours is a strange world!

“We seem to have been creating a touch-averse world,” said one expert. “It’s time to recover the social power of touch.”

I think I’ll just keep on hugging family and friends!

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