It occurred to me that I haven’t posted about my recent trip back to nola for mardi gras, which is a major misstep on my part, and I apologize. Contrary to stereotypical portrayals, mg does not consist of mass female exhibitionism and rivers of urine running through the streets. If you see women showing their boobs for a 50 cent pair of beads, you can be pretty certain they’re tourists and not an accurate representation of the mg culture in New Orleans. (I love love love Ellen DeGenerous, but as a native southern Louisianan with a MAJOR platform, it’s kind of disappointing that year after year she perpetuates this misconception about flashing). It may seem like I’m really emphasizing the “mardi gras is not all about the boobs” idea, and that’s because I am.
I’m frequently asked what it was like to grow up in New orleans. To be honest, I didn’t realize there was anything unconventional about it until I moved to Denver for college. I don’t mind this question, but the thing I hate about it is the insinuation that people who choose to start families there have confused their priorities or are in some way irresponsible. I consider myself extremely lucky for my upbringing, and some of my fondest memories as a child are from mardi gras. When I explain this, I’m usually met with horror and confusion. But let me just say, as a child (and actually to this day) I have no memory of seeing one single boob. Not one. And while drinking is always a prominent fixture, it’s not the drunk vomit fest people like to pretend it is. Once you realize that mg isn’t a city-wide act of deviancy, you’ll see just how beautiful it really is.
Instead of ranting about what mardi gras is not, I’d like you to know what it is. Sure, it’s a big party, but that’s simplifying it. Once mg starts, the whole city shuts down. Absolutely no other thing matters.Grandmothers start cooking weeks in advance to prepare. Parents drag around ladders so their children can see over the crowds. There are endless supplies of fried chicken and biscuits. And everyone is friends. Everyone. Whether you know the person next to you or not, it isn’t long before you’re both shouting out the lyrics to Sweet Caroline, holding their kids on your shoulders chasing down a stuffed animal, and dancing together alongside the 610 Stompers. So when people try and turn it into something dirty, it just makes me really sad, because it’s not. It’s a testament to how good people can be to one another despite race or sexuality or religion on a HUGE scale. Especially now, I think it’s important to recognize the incredible moments like these, instead of the rare instance of boobs.
(Stay tuned for new art).
(Note: I am of the belief that the female body is not innately sexual, but is sexualized by societal institutions that perpetuate the idea that women are property. I have no issue with nudity, be it my own or someone else’s. I think that female nudity can be extremely empowering and can reteach women how to love themselves. That being said, I think that the exposing of breasts for a perceived reward only reinforces the sexualization of the female body.)