What is Pieces of Herself you ask? Well, it is just this…“At ironic and playful polemic, Pieces of Herself uses the motif of the dress-up doll to explore issues of gender identity in the context of home, work, and community. As the user explores the black-and-white spaces of the text (the shower, bedroom, outside, kitchen, living room, office, and Main Street), she encounters a variety of colored objects that she can drag onto the outline of a body, metaphoric acts of inscription that trigger audio files ranging from music to a biblical pronouncement about the “proper” socio-cultural function of women. What emerges from play with the seemingly disconnected pieces is a notion of the gendered subject that is both culturally produced (discursive) and singularly embodied (material)” (Pieces of Herself, Juliet Davis).
This was one of the most vulnerable pieces of literature I have read as an adult. I found myself discovering things about my past and present through traveling through Davis’s created world. Before learning and journeying through the story, the very first picture we see is an empty body with the words, “Her friends said she needed to ‘find’ herself. And sure enough, when she started looking, she found pieces of herself everywhere…” (Davis). Before reading, I already could relate to this character. I believe every woman at some point in her life has been told that she needs to “find herself,” which could mean something positive or negative. Either way, I have received that statement multiple times in my life. Her friends told her she needed to “find” herself and my friends told me as well. However, I found it interesting that I never told myself that I needed to “find” myself. It was also someone else telling me how to discover things in my life that felt empty and broken. I did not enter the rest of the story, and already I was drawn into the concept of this virtual world. Out of the seven different places, I am going to focus on only two for this blog post. There is so much to say about each room, but for now, I will be taking a close look at the shower and the bedroom. Who knows, maybe I will do a part two for this blog post and discuss the other places shown.
The most vulnerable places such as the shower and bedroom are where one can find out the most about someone if they were a fly on the wall. I appreciated that Davis had us look at the first part of Her world, which was the shower. Even the woman who the world has claimed was the most beautiful has felt the ugliest in the shower or the bathroom. At the top of the image, it says, “In the SHOWER ROOM, where women slip behind the curtains, in perfect synchronicity, to remain invisible from each other” (Davis). This was such a powerful statement to show how women really behind closed doors. “We,” meaning women, have skillfully mastered not allowing another woman to see us because of our insecurities to the point where we actual synchronize with one another in doing so. There were many “pieces” of herself that I found and were able to drag to the empty body. There was one that I saw not drag, and that was the image in the mirror of the woman putting her hands over her mouth and covering her mouth. Anyone, whether it is an artist, an author, a filmmaker, a writer, who shows that visual of a woman looking at herself upset in the mirror, is a pillar in my opinion. It is an image of a tender woman who is not weak but is a human being.
The second place that I had an emotional and more profound connection with was the bedroom. A person’s bedroom, woman or man, is just as private as their diary. At the top of this page, the text says, “In the BEDROOM, where her mind would sometimes float to the ceiling” (Davis). This was such an eerie and captivating description of how and what the character goes through while in her bedroom. Another chilling part of the room that was genuinely relatable was the voicemail of her boyfriend, or the man leaving her several telephone messages. He started to sound concerned after the second time of not returning his phone calls. There have been many moments in my life where even the people in my life who I should have trusted just because they had certain titles, I would not return messages and did not want to speak to anybody. Just like Her mind would float, my mind does that more than I would like it to. The mind becomes overcrowded to the point where you are aware of your surroundings, but because your mind is so clouded, it can’t help but merely float away. What I realized was how much I was able to drag to her body only by the second place. Her body already was filled with the different pieces of herself. I found this reading to be insightful, relatable, and worthy of my time (just to be frank).