By Martha Joy Rose
– I wear ears so I can hear you better. I also wear glasses, although my ears work better than my eyes. It is my sincerest desire to see and hear you as you present yourself as well as your work when we are together.
– Recognizability– People check into conferences and want to identify whomever they have been corresponding with over the last several months. At least I do. At the registration desk, when attendees enquire, “who do I check in with”, the easy response is “the women with the pom-poms on her head”.
– Levity – Conferences can be heady places. Presentations often take an auto-ethnographic turn. When they do, personal stories come spilling out. Sometimes deeply held secrets, ideas, and beliefs are laid bare. My headgear helps to remind us all that even when we are telling our stories, we can still be silly together.
– To Interrogate Cattiness – Human responses within collective environments often include judging, rating, scoring, or evaluating. We do this in order to feel safe and confident within group settings. Hierarchical constructions offer us the security of knowing our place, even if the place is a false one. Sometimes these feelings result in us cliquing up or ranking others who we perceive as better, smarter, or prettier than us. Often it is the reverse. “Oh look at her” someone may sneer. Putting someone else down (for any reason), makes the one who is judging feel temporarily powerful. We are all guilty of it at different points. My cat ears, pom-poms or other headgear remind me to check my jealousies at the door. They remind me to not judge others. Simultaneously, they also may or may not provoke you into an internal dialogue of how you are personally navigating uncomfortable situations and whether you do or don’t feel the urge to judge.
– Frida Kahlo – While I am no Frida Kahlo (she was an incredible and iconic artist), I do want to declare my artistic presence wherever I go. One way I do that is to wear my ears, which correspond to Frida’s flowers and inspire me to be courageous, even in the face of illness and obstacles. If you have ever seen her self-portraits or photographs, her headgear is an essential part of her public identity. My cat ears, pom-poms, and glitter are part of mine.