A while back, when I was wandering through Garance’s archives looking for some inspiration, I found this quote from Emanuel Ungaro that she quoted from a 1973 issue of Vogue:
“I like women who are not sure of themselves. I like the moment when a woman thinks she is not good enough, pretty enough. It’s wonderful. It’s like I’ve scratched the surface and discovered something…”
I felt immediately that I needed to write on this for you. But I couldn’t articulate then why. I couldn’t even put words to why I like it so much.
Scribbling in my journal last night, I became very aware of how much pressure I’ve put on myself, unconsciously, to always be sure of myself. To always think I’m good enough. Pretty enough. Smart enough. Capable enough. Desirable enough. Likeable enough. To have the unwavering, unbreakable confidence and self-assurance of Dagny Taggart.
Not that I want to have too high an estimate of myself. My aim is simply to have a crystal clear image of myself–flaws and faults included–that is perfectly, and as entirely as possible, accurate. That allows me complete self-assurance. The type of self-image that frees you from the need for any validation or the risk of being brought down by someone else’s disregard. (We’ve covered that I was a philosophy major right? So I think in terms of ideals).
In short, I’d like to be impervious with no potential for any scratches or breaks in my surface.
The last few years have really shattered my belief that I could ever be so perfectly cold and unmovable. Still, I find myself judging myself by this standard. I feel like there is something wrong with me when I’m hurt after someone has been hurtful. Like I’m weak if I admit that I have limits to what I can carry, put up with and excuse. Like I’m terribly insecure if I admit that my confidence is not complete.
What my friends have taught me throughout these years is that these aren’t flaws. I get hurt because I’m human. In fact, if I respond to it appropriately, that pain can help me prevent further harm. I have limits because there are things that I, in fact, shouldn’t carry, put up with or excuse. My confidence is not complete because I was made to be completed in community. My desire for appropriate validation, my need to see myself accurately reflected back in the eyes of my friends, is what helps to draw me into relationships. Just like everyone else.
I think this moment, when a woman is unsure of herself, is so beautiful to Ungaro because it is so true. It’s the moment when his Muse’s humanity, with all of its inherit vulnerability, becomes apparent. It is the moment when she can’t be reduced to an object or an ideal, when he becomes aware that she’s a person with all of the complicated depths that entails.