what i communicate

What did beauty mean to you when you were in your 20s?

During puberty and my early 20s I mainly wanted to distinguish myself from the rest. I think this was partly part of my personality and partly in being a twin. I had a strong need  of developing an own identity. I wanted to be different with my clothes. I didn’t wear well-known brands (those years everybody at school had Levi’s pants and Nike shoes) but liked colourful clothes and strong contrast.

I had shawls/scarfs (cotton handkerchiefs with different prints and long shawls with painted prints) and also home-made earrings, made with beads and rubber. I didn’t wear make-up; to me beauty was “Puur Natuur”. I wore sailing clothes for a while to identify with the people in that world (for example sailing coats with brands like Gaastra, Helly Hansen and Musto).

My idea of beauty was influenced by movies. I thought Leonardo Di Caprio (Titanic) was beautiful. For me the ideal beauty image was long, blond hair (I’m blond), a small waist and long legs (I don’t meet those requirements). It didn’t mean that I didn’t feel attractive/beautiful. In general I was content and didn’t spend a lot of time on outer beauty, but studied and developed (creative and musical) talents and spiritual (church) activities.

What does beauty mean to you now?

I enjoy beauty in/of: materials, nature, art, theatre, but also in diversity of people. Outer beauty for me has to do with radiance. A strong personality radiates power: a passionate person with a vision on a certain project/goal; someone with compassion for the weaker in society; people with great faith; a dependent/open child; a burst of laughter…a treasure inside that reflects a twinkle in the eyes or a loving act. This is also how I want to express my beauty.

Besides that, I like to wear clothes that I like. At festivities/celebrations, I wear something special and pay more attention to my hair and make-up. I think you can accentuate inner beauty by taking care of outer beauty.

If different, why have your ideas about beauty changed over the years?

The difference to me is especially the calm and the depth I found in the meaning of beauty and finding my identity, in knowing  who I am. At first it was a desire to distinguish/accentuate my uniqueness. Now I experience the freedom to choose what I really like and make my inner beauty stronger. I found it’s not whether you follow fashion/trends or put on make-up, but it’s what I radiate and how I appear to those around me. A beautiful impression is defined by my physical appearance, but more importantly, by what I communicate.

What I want to communicate is: love, peace, happiness, power, integrity, wisdom, reliability. That’s beauty for me. My belief in God helped me to think differently. I´ve appreciated sermons and books about identity (for example, who am I in Christ). My education and contacts with fellow-students/friends and how/what they think about this has helped contribute to a different view.

A period of “rebelling” against the mainstream with regards to outer beauty (i.e. media) and a clear choice in difference of clothes and hairstyle concerning my twin-sister helped me to find my uniqueness and by doing that, choose what I really like.

Lieske, 30

The Netherlands


La avaricia del mercado

Click here for version in English…

¿Qué significaba para ti la belleza cuando tenias 20 años? 

 La belleza era para mi un estado innato físico estereotipado a causa del bombardeo de los medios de comunicación y la percepción que tenia (y aún tiene) la sociedad de ella; cuerpo perfecto, medidas perfectas, cara angelical, ir a la moda…totalmente superficial. Los cánones de belleza han ido cambiando y se han adecuado a la época, tradiciones, religión, etc.

 Mi sensación a los veinte años era de una imposición encubierta de estándares, a través de la publicidad, para que la sociedad quisiera ser distinta de como es, quisiera cambiar su físico para sentirse mejor. Pero lo más indignante era que el hecho de conseguirlo viniera ligado con la compra de productos y servicios para alcanzar este fin. La avaricia del mercado; crecer, sobretodo crecer exponencialmente y engañando. Lo más fuerte es que la publicidad, los medios de comunicación, los estereotipos…tuvieran y tienen suficiente poder de manipulación, opinión y divulgación para hacer cambiar el chip de las mentes de la sociedad creando de esta manera necesidades básicas para augmentar el consumo y haciendo creer que son ellos los que eligen. A mi modo de verlo es una fórmula de negocio muy frívola.

 A mis 20 años no me preocupaba demasiado el tema físico (superficialmente hablando), soy una chicha del montón y en esa edad era muy consciente de cómo era y cómo me veían, o como creía yo que me veían…en fin, en mi cabeza había la universidad y las grandes preguntas; ¿De donde vengo?, ¿Donde estoy? y ¿A donde voy?

Lo cierto es que asociaba la belleza al interior pero era totalmente inconsciente de este hecho. Veía la belleza como un factor externo superficial, no muy importante y como un factor interno, la esencia de la persona; los valores y ética de la misma.

¿Qué significa la belleza para ti ahora?

 Mi percepción de la belleza no ha cambiado demasiado, supongo que en todo caso ha ido madurando. La esencia de la persona, sus comportamientos, sus virtudes y sus defectos, sus proyectos, sus sueños e ilusiones, las derrotas, todas las experiencias de una persona son las que la hacen crecer, aprender, escoger y ser bella en si misma, por lo que es y por su aprendizaje.

 La belleza es un conjunto de aspectos que hacen a cada persona única y con posibilidades infinitas para llegar a cumplir sus ilusiones y proyectos, esto es para mi la belleza, vivir con armonía, ilusión, aprender, conocerse, estar bien con uno mismo, ser feliz con los pequeños logros…esto es belleza.

Si son diferentes, ¿por qué tus ideas sobre la belleza han cambiado con los años?

Supongo que mi concepto de la belleza ha ido madurando llegando al punto de que cada persona es un mundo, con todo lo que esto comporta, distinta y bella en si misma física e interior.

Ester, 26
Cornellà del Terri
Todas las imágenes son de Ester.

“Change the chip”

Haga clic aquí para ver la entrevista en castellano…

What did beauty mean to you when you were in your (early) 20s?

 Ideas of beauty for me were about internal stereotypes because of constant bombardment from the media and the perception I had (and still have) of the ideal woman: perfect body, perfect measurements, angelic face, fashionable… entirely superficial. Standards of beauty have evolved and been adapted to the times, traditions, religion, etc..

 At twenty, I felt a covert imposition of standards, through advertising, to present society as different from what it was and with the idea that one could change his or her body to feel better. But more shocking was the connection of these personal and societal changes to the purchasing of products and services. The market is greedy to grow, and grow exponentially, through dishonesty. Most disturbing is that the media and stereotypes in advertising manipulate and influence with so much power that they can “change the chip,” so to speak, in people’s minds, thus creating consumption into a basic necessity and making consumers believe that they are the ones who choose. As I see it, this is a very shallow business formula.

When I was 20, I wasn’t too worried about the physical (superficially speaking). I was a pretty natural girl, and at that age was very aware of who I was and how I saw things, or I thought I saw them…my head was full of thoughts of university and big life questions like where did I come, where am I now, and where am I going?

 I was connected with internal beauty but was completely unaware of it. I saw “beauty” as superficial external factor, not very important and not as an internal factor, the essence of a person, her values and beliefs.

What does beauty mean to you now?

 My perception of beauty has not changed much, although I suppose it is maturing. The essence of the person, her behavior, strengths and weaknesses, projects, dreams and illusions, defeats, all that person’s experiences are what make her grow, learn, choose and be beautiful in herself…that is what I am learning as beauty.

 Beauty is a set of characteristics that make each person unique with infinite possibilities to fulfill her dreams and goals. This is beauty to me: to live in harmony, to hope and learn, to know and be right with yourself, to be happy with small successes…this is beauty.

 If different, why have your ideas about beauty changed over the years?

 I guess my concept of beauty has matured to the point where I see each person as different, with everything that entails. Different and beautiful in herself, both the physical body and within.

Ester, 26
Cornellà del Terri, Catalonia
All above artwork is by Ester.

Entrevistas en Catalunya – Ma.Rosa (2o)

Click here to see the interview in English…

¿Si es diferente, ¿por qué han cambiado con los años sus ideas sobre la belleza? Qué significa para Ud. La belleza ahora?

Ahora voy a la peluquería me visto con ropas más alegres, porque antes tenias que ir con vestidos negros. Ósea que hemos cambiado mucho. Ahora todas la mujeres son igual, de estilo moderno, de deporte, así que ahora ya no hay comparación con las mujeres de otros países, alemanas, francesas. Ahora no hay diferencia entre las mujeres de aquí con las de cualquier otro país. Antiguamente una mujer española se la reconocía enseguida, no se arreglaban, no eran nada coquetas, se ponían cualquier cosa. Ahora en cambio ya no hasta hay quien hace venir a una Professional para que la maquillen en casa, yo tengo 82 años, si fuera como antes yo tendría que i r de negro, lamentarme todo el día y rezar el rosario.

Mi abuela la madre de mi madre murió con 72 años teníamos que ir todas de negro, siempre. Además si te moría alguien tenias que ir 3 años vestida de negro, después de pasar este tiempo pasabas a ligero, negro con topitos blancos. Los hombres llevaban americana con una franja negra. Esto era en el año 40 y pico. Cuando a mi se me murió esta abuela, yo tenia 12 años y ya me hicieron poner de negro. Hoy en día la gente ya no llevan luto

¿Si es diferente, ¿por qué han cambiado con los años sus ideas sobre la belleza?

Yo siempre he sido una rebelde y pensaba que las cosas que me decían no era verdad, que no podía ser, por eso ahora mes siento plenamente a mi manera de pensar. Antes una mujer no podía trabajar, tenia que estar en casa y con la pata quebrada, que quería decir con muletas para que no fuera de casa. Mira que barbaridad, a mi me decía,¡es que tú tienes una ideas muy liberales! Yo les decía que si una mujer no estaba bien con su marido que se separase y me contestaban que eso no se hace por nada del mundo. Mira ahora, cuantos divorcios y yo lo encuentro fantástico. Hoy en día me siento muy a gusto con la vida.

 Maria Rosa, 82

Pla de l’Estany

Interviews in Catalonia: Maria Rosa – Part 2

Haga clic para ver la entrevista en castellano…

Have have your ideas about beauty changed over the years?

 Now I go to the hairdresser. I dress in cheerful clothes (because then you wore black dresses). We have changed a lot. Now all women are equal, modern, athletic. Now there’s not much difference from German or French women. Before, a Spanish woman was immediately recognized. Not fixed up, nothing flirty she wore any old thing. Now it’s different. The woman who doesn’t go to a professional does makeup at home. I am 82 years old. In the past, I would have to wear black, be gloomy all day and pray the rosary.

 My maternal grandmother died at 72. She always wore all black. Also, if someone died you had to dress in black for 3 years. After that, you could wear something lighter….black with white polka dots for example. This was around the 1940s. When my grandmother died, I did this. I was 12 years old and wore black. The men would wear a black jacket or armband. Today people no longer mourn like this.

 Why do you think your ideas of beauty have changed?

 I’ve always been a rebel and thought that the things that they told me weren’t always true. They couldn’t be. I feel more comfortable with the modern way of thinking. Before a woman could not work. She had to “be home with the broken leg”. This was a saying that meant “with crutches” to keep her at home. Look at how crazy this is, I would say. But you have such liberal ideas, I would hear. I used to say that if a woman didn’t feel good with her husband, they should separate. People would tell me nothing in the world should make this happen. See now how many divorces there are now? I find it fantastic. Today I feel very comfortable with life.

Maria Rosa, 82

Pla de l’Estany, Catalonia

Entrevistas en Catalunya – Ma.Rosa (1o)

Click here to see the interview in English…

¿Qué significó para Ud. la belleza cuando era joven?

Me preocupaba más que ahora naturalmente. Descondidas de mi madre, me pintaba los labios si podía y no me dejaban. Entonces me decía, no, no eres demasiado joven. Ya tenía quince años y aun no se puede pintar. Pero si podía, me cogia las cosas de mamá y me pintaba. Para estar guapa, me pellizcaba los pomelos asi porque así me veia con colorcete en las mejillas y cosas esas pero no era como ahora. Ahora se puede pintar y arreglarse. No, no, estaba – no prohibido – pero no estaba bien visto. Una mujer que fuera bien arreglada y pintaba, le llamaban una mujer de la vida…una puta. Estaba completamente censurada. No se podia. Y ahora si, se puede pintar y arreglarse, incluso ni cremas para ir a la playa, cremas protectoras. No había. Es que, nada. Completamente agua y jabón. Algunas no salían bien y otras no tanto porque el cutis no todo el mundo lo tiene igual. Pero éramos felices.

La guerra de Franco empezó cuando yo tenía siete años. Fue muy traumatico porque empezaron bombas, destruir casas. Yo era pequena, pero me daba cuenta lo que pasaba me lo cogia como estados de ansiedad cuando oia los aviones que pasaban. Siempre me quedado un ansiedad de vida aquella epoca. Cuando pasa algo que no es normal, me ha coge una cosa de ansiedad que es divido de los bombardellos que tuvimos.

Llegó Franco y era Generalísimo! Pero fue terible tambien porque estuvimos cuarenta años con completemente un regimen de autoridades y policias. Todo estaba prohibido. No podiamos hablar nuestro idioma catalan. Se prohibío. Tenías que hablar espanol. Si no, etemitian en la cárcel. Fue una dictadura terible. El no podía ver los catalanes. Los de Madrid y los otros, bueno. Pero los catalanes, esa lengua parecen perros que estén ladrando, parecen perros que están aullando decía de nuestro idioma. Por suerte, muríó, pero nos vaya tambien con tantos cambios. Vamos tirando.

No podiamos comprar ni teníamos dinero ni nada de nada. Hasta tres años estuvimos completamente anulados. Ni comer, no podíamos, ni comprar, ni comida. Yo de pequeña este edad, estuve comiendo las cascaras de platano cortaditas y pequenas porque no habia nada mas. Pasa hambre. Vivíamos en Barcelona. Mi padre lo llevaron en un campo de concentracion (en un pueblo cerca del Ebro) que tenía que pasar con un barco un sitio a otro. Tambien ocupado por los nacionales, los rojos. Mi padre era rojo, contra Franco. Estuvieron en un campo de concentración y cuando vino a casa después del cautiverio, ni lo conocíamos. Envejeció viente anos. Vino completamente delgado, un desastre. Porque no era de Franco, combatío con los nacionales. Cuando lo enterraron, vinieron a buscarlo en casa y se lo llevaron.

La posguerra tambien fue dura porque todo era clandestino. Mi padre era pastelero y cuando llegó a casa se le ocurió hacer pastas. Lo venía alguien preguntando Tienes para darnos borregos? Si, pero si me das huevos. Hacíamos intercambio de comida. Era la unica manera de poder comer bien. Porque si no, no habia nada, no había pan, no había arroz, no había aceite, nada. Ibas con una libreta y tenías que cortaban un cupón, como Rusia. Hoy, que tocas la semana, garbanzos. Y nada, un paquetito y esta. A veces recuerdo tan mal, que no quiero recordarme. Da pena.

La gente de Franco eran rica. Las mujeres de los generales llevaron con abrigos de pieles de cinchilla y de osos. Y los otros que no podíamos nos quedábamos oh, que guapas, que bien. Fue así. Las otras tenían vestidos muy sencillos. No iba nadie con pantalones. Todo era vestido y todas las mujeres a partir de los cuarenta anos, ya tenían que ir todas de negro porque ya eras vieja. Ahora no. Tengo una foto de mi abuela (de cuarenta anos) y parece que esta mujer tiene cien anos. No podían salir a menos que su ropa estaba debajo de las rodillas. El estilo de pelos era un moño, recogido. Peluquería, nada.

Ma.Rosa con su hermana menor

Despues de los anos sesenta, empezaron a venir turistas aquí en catalunya y todas las mujeres miró a las otras. Y pensábamos, que bien…todas con pantalones, se iban con pantalones cortos. Decíamos pero eso, que es? Y nosotras aquí tontas, mas que tontas. Nos abrió mucho los ojos, estas turistas.

Veíamos la relacion entre hombre y mujer más amplia, más distincta. Aquí, si toque el mano de un hombre, ya era pecado. Aquí era todo pecado. En cambio, las extranjeras se iban a la cama con ellos, normal. Una cosa imposible. Entonces nos fuimos espabilando y dijimos que vayan hacer punetas? y oye, tambien somos seres humanos igual que ellas. Ahora ellas vayan a la cama enseguida..sí es natural. La naturaleza es así. Todo estaba reprimido. Nada más rezar, todo el día rezando. Y todo el día Franco, Franco! alabando a Franco. Cuando venía por Catalunya, todos que tenemos que ir y ibas a la escuela con una banderita. Fue muy bonito, muy traumatico.

Las turistas fue la bendicion. Llegó un momento en que la gente gasta su dinero y empezó a restaurantes y una otra vida completamente diferente. Lo mejor que podemos pasar…los vinieron los alemanes, los ingleses, turistas del todo el mundo. Y nos quedamos los mujeres jovenes aun (y pensaban) oh, que guapas! Las parecían que venían de otra galaxia. Un dia recuerdo me dijeron, llega a barcelona un autocar de chicas rusas. Fuimos todas a verlas porque nos creiamos que las rusas eran completamente diferente de nosotras…que llevaban rabano y todo, cosas raras porque Franco que decía que los rusos eran teribles, malos, los demonios. Bueno, fuimos a ver y vi a las chicas más guapas, todas rubias. Decidimos que todo era una mentira. Toda la juventud anulada completamente. Todo era pecado contra el gobierno.

La abuela (sentado) con sus seis hijos

 Despues, las mujeres empezaron a vestirse. Llegó aqui modistos de fama. Cuando vinieron los turistas, Espana cogío dinero y empezó todo bien. Fue estupendo. Tenemos grácia a este bono turistico porque fue lo mejor que los pudo pasar. Con ellos vinieron bienestar, coches que nadie tenía. Seat empezó una fabrica de coches aquí en Espana. Antes nadie tenía coches y nadie tenía en toda casa una bicicleta. Empezar una otra vida, muy distinta.

En el 70 – 75 empezaron las mujeres a abrir los ojos a ponerse cremas, de noche, de día, todo lo que ahora ya se hace de una manera habitual. Antes en cambio todo era malo, comprarse y ponerse una crema para que? Ahora estamos en la gloria y a veces me hago cruces. Luego empezaron los vestidos enseñado, piernas, escote enseñando un poco los pechos, pantalones. Había algunas señoras que se escandalizaban en la ciudad no, pero en las zonas más rurales decían que las mujeres que se ponían estas ropas eran todas unas “furcias” (prostitutas). Ahora ya no, ahora lo aceptan todo y todas están contentas, porque antes una mujer de 40 años era ya una vieja. Ahora te voy a enseñar a mi abuela que tuvo 6 hijos. Se tenia que tener hijos porque estaba prohibido tomar píldora anticonceptiva, te decían, los que Dios te mande de hijos has de tener…como si Dios tuviera que tener algo que ver con esto. Los hijos venían cuando el marido quería, además era el marido el que mandaba te decia,Oye, sube. Eso quería decir que tenia ganas de sexo, imagínate! Que poca delicadeza e ilusión y nada de amor. Era ponerse, terminar él y ya te podías ir a la cocina.


 Maria Rosa, 82

Pla de l’Estany

Interviews in Catalonia: Maria Rosa – Part 1

Haga clic para ver la entrevista en castellano…

What were your ideas of beauty when you were young?

I worried more than now, naturally. Unknown to my mother, I painted my lips since she did not let me. She said, no, you are too young. I was fifteen years old and still could not wear lipstick. But whenever I could, I (secretly) took Mama’s make-up. To be more beautiful, I pinched and put some oil on my cheeks because they looked better with a little oil. Things weren’t like they are now. Now you can use make-up and get dressed up. Then it was – well, not banned – but not looked well upon. They called a woman who was well-dressed and painted a woman of the world… a whore. It was completely censored. You couldn’t do it. Now you can use make-up and groom yourself, even use sun-screens at the beach . In my time, nothing. Only soap and water. Some girls looked good and others not as good because not everyone was equal. But we were happy.

Territories controlled by the Nacionals (Franco) & the Republicans (Reds) in 1938

Franco’s war (the Spanish Civil War) started when I was seven years old. It was very traumatic because they started bombing, destroying homes. I was little, but I realized what was happening. I got anxious when I heard planes passing. I’ve always experienced anxiety since that time. When something happens that is not normal, I get anxious, which goes back to the bombings we experienced.

 Franco arrived and he was The General! It was terrible – for forty years we lived in a police state. Everything was forbidden. We couldn’t speak our Catalan language. You had to speak Spanish. If not, you were thrown in jail. It was a terible dictatorship. He couldn’t stand Catalans. People of Madrid and other parts of Spain, fine. But the Catalan language, to him it seemed like dogs barking and howling. Fortunately, he died, but until then, we experienced so many changes.

(During the war) we couldn’t buy anything; we didn’t have money. For three years, we were completely wiped out. We barely ate because we couldn’t buy food. At this young age, I was eating banana peels, cut up small, because there was nothing else. We were hungry. We lived in Barcelona at the time. My father was taken away to a concentration camp (in a village near the Ebro) which they had to go to by boat. Later it was occupied by the nationals and the Reds. My father was Red and fought with the Nationalists against Franco.He had been in hiding, but they came to look for him at home and took him away. He was held in this concentration camp and when he came home after the captivity, and we hardly knew him. He had aged twenty years. He was completely emaciated, a disaster.

Maria Rosa & her younger sister

 The postwar period was also hard because everything was underground. My father was a baker and when he came home (from the camp), he started making pastries. Someone would come by asking do you have flour? Yes, but only if you give me eggs, he’d answer. We used to exchange food. It was the only way to eat well. Because if not, there was nothing. There was no bread, no rice, no oil, nothing. You had a notebook and you had to cut coupons, like in Russia. Today, this week you could get chickpeas. But really nothing, a bit of this, a little of that. Sometimes it is so painful, I don’t want to remember. It’s a shame.

 Franco’s people were rich. The generals’ women wore coats of cinchilla and bear fur. Those of us who couldn’t wear those things would admire them, what beauties. It was like that. The rest of us wore very simple dresses. No one wore pants. Everyone dressed up, and all women over forty had to wear black because they were old. Not now. I have a picture of my grandmother (at forty) and it seems that this woman is a hundred years old. You couldn’t go out unless your skirts were below the knees. The hair style was a tight bun. Beauty shop, not a chance.

 After the sixties, tourists started coming here to Catalonia, and Catalan women saw other women. And we thought great! These girls are wearing short pants. We said And what about us, silly us? They opened our eyes, these tourists. We saw a different, more open, relationship between men and women. Here, if you touched a man’s hand, it was sin. Here everything was sin. In contrast, the foreigners went to bed with each other and it was normal. An impossible thing. Then we smarted up and said, screw them. We’re also human beings like them. Now girls go to bed right away – it’s natural. Now, no more praying all day. Then everything was repressed. And all day Franco, Franco!, praising Franco. When he came to Catalonia, we all had to go to the school ground waving little flags. It was very nice. Very traumatic.

 The tourists were the blessing. There came a time when people were spending their money and restaurants started…and a completely different way of life. The best thing happened. Germans, British, tourists from around the world came. And we were still young women and thought oh, how beautiful! They looked like they came from another galaxy. I remember one day some friends invited me to come to Barcelona to see a bus of Russian girls. We all went to see them because we believed that the Russians were completely different from us because Franco said strange things, like Russians were terrible demons. Well, we went to see them and saw the most beautiful girls, all blond. We decided that it was all a lie. Our youth was completely wasted. Everything against the government was a sin.

 After that, women began to dress up. Renowned designers came here. When visitors came, Spain got money and began doing things well. It was great. The tourists’ money was the best thing that could happen. With them came well-being – cars that no one previously had. Seat started a car factory here in Spain. Before that nobody had cars. A family would be lucky to have a bicycle. A new, very different life began.

Grandmother at 40 (seated), with her six children

 In the beginning of the 1970s women began to open their eyes, for example, to use night and day creams. Things that are very normal now. Before that everything was looked down upon. To buy and wear cream for what? Women began to show more leg and chest; sometimes you saw pants. There weren’t many women in the city who were offended by this, but in rural areas, people said that women who wore these clothes were all whores. Now it’s not like this.

 At that time, a 40 year old woman was considered old. My grandmother had 6 children. One had to have children because taking birth control was forbidden. You had to have the children God sent you, as if God had something to do with it. Children came when the husband wanted sex. When the boss told you, “Upstairs!” that meant he wanted sex. Imagine! There wasn’t much room for subtlty or romance, nothing about love. When he was done, the woman could go back to the kitchen.

To be continued…

Maria Rosa, 82

Pla de l’Estany, Catalonia

Previous Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: