Comfortable with the Squishy Part II: Look, Look with Your Special Eyes

The White that Binds (Pinning Ceremony) by jparadisi 2010 mixed media & collage

I’ve read a lot about eyes, seeing, and looking lately.

Eye doctors are concerned about a fashion trend among young women called circle lenses. These non-prescription contact lenses create a large, round eye effect, making the woman look like a doll or cartoon character. Illegal in the United States, they are easily purchased on the internet from other countries, where no studies or quality checks are conducted to determine the safety of the lenses. A lack of scientific research proving whether or not circle lenses are safe seems not to concern these women. They are comfortable with the squishy.

As an artist making paintings about identity, I’m interested in the choices people make. I was a child during the consciousness-raising of the Feminist Movement, when women rebelled against a society that saw us as dolls or cartoon characters with biologically limited abilities.Nursing rebels against the depiction of nurses as angels, bitches, and handmaidens (excellent post by Barbara Glickstein, MPH, MS, RN for Off the Charts). Accepting these characterizations creates problems about role and identity for nurses of both genders.

Can nursing make advances in the media depiction of our profession if women pursue trends reinforcing the idea we are dolls and cartoon characters? When women choose fashion over their health and safety, can nursing’s demand for safe work environments be successful? Is there a connection between the two? Do mixed messages create roadblocks?

I don’t know the answers to these questions and that is why I explore them through art. Without scientific facts to turn to, I have to be comfortable with the squishy.