Monday, November 28, 2016

No right to complain: Artist dissing

According to Psychology Today, this is the definition of a micro aggression
everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership.

As a woman, redheaded and bisexual at that, I have certainly experienced microaggressions. But one of the small and common put downs that hurts me the most has nothing to do with being female or queer, and therefore probably doesn't qualify for the definition, although it still fits the frame.

Yep, poor, privileged me: I'm tired of being put down for being an artist.

Artist friends and I talk about the discomfort of self identifying as an artist. Maybe the push back from the world that we feel is because of lack of financial success. I have heard many variations on the theme of “What a luxury that you get to spend all your time on this fun hobby! Aren't you so lucky? I wish I could indulge in my creative side the way you do!” Or, “Yeah, being an artist isn't much to brag about.” Or, “Calling yourself an artist just sounds so pompous to me.” (All of the above were said to me by non-artists.)

So, even writing that, my breathing has gone shallow, my stomach hurts, my heart is pounding, my upper lip is sweating, and I'm starting to see spots. Seriously.

But I feel compelled to examine this closely. This sometimes implied and sometimes explicit line has been delivered to me all my life, starting with my father telling me, in high school, that no, being an artist was not a good career, but something to do on the side. Farming, on the other hand …


This question severely affects my self worth. Now my kidneys hurt – adrenal glands – and it's getting just a wee bit ridiculous. 

Time for a walk and some meditation. Check back in.