Thursday, December 9, 2010

Living The Princess and The Pea

I just finished a mixed media sculptural piece entitled "Living The Princess and The Pea" . It is the culmination of a year of collecting the labels that were sewn into the necklines of clothing when I purchased them or had collected over time. It is always necessary for me to remove the labels before I am able to comfortably wear the clothing because of a hypersensitivity condition that I named The Princess and The Pea Syndrome. Upon further research, I found that I was not alone. The sculpture consists of a "quilt" of sorts, of all the labels I attached by sewing them to two dressmaker's patterns. Once sewn, I then proceeded to dip the two parts of the "blouse" into beeswax and then form them into torso like shapes. They cannot stand alone and need each other for support. Inside the vessel, the void, that the two wax dress quilt pieces create, is a spool of long nails, pointed side up, and resting upon them is one small white down feather. I feel this piece narrates my feeling of having lived with this condition my entire life. There was something very satisfying about completing the long awaited sculpture. Although it soothes my spirit, it unfortunately doesn't assuage my condition. You can read more about what others have written about their experience living The Princess and The Pea below. The images are of the completed sculpture "Living The Princess and The Pea" including a detail image.
I am quoting other women, including myself who suffer with this sometimes debilitating condition. "I  make an effort to make other parts of my life as comfortable as possible, with appropriate clothing, and shoes. When I stand for too long, I have low back pain. In short, I try to do everything I can to enhance my creature comforts in my life, by removing those things which are bothersome. I also have problems with clothing. I don’t think I have a single shirt left that has the manufacturer’s tag still in it. The ones with the pretty metallic designs are especially annoying. I also cut them out of pants, underwear and bras. Thankfully, I don’t own much that does not have easy washing directions. Being around perfume and loud noises are additional irritants to my heightened system. Being around too many people for too long is a drain on my system and usually cause headaches. At the end of the day, I can't wait to remove my underwear and clothing and then am only able to wear a baggy sweatsuit with the shirt tucked smoothly into the pants to keep the elastic off my waist. I was often mocked by my mother for being "too sensitive" and being a pain in the neck to shop with, especially for underwear. If I have a headache earrings have to be very light, and not bounce, or they get left at home. Sometimes even my hair down on my neck is irritating to my skin. Any of this sound familiar? I would imagine it does. We are creatures with hypersensitive nerve endings. Our nervous systems react to many things others are not even aware of. All of this extra irritability adds up to less sleep, and more pain and fatigue. So, how do we deal with the “pea”? I imagine some of the things we need to do are similar, while others will be very individualThe immune system is an integral part of human protection against disease, but the normally protective immune mechanisms can sometimes cause detrimental reactions in the host. Such reactions are known as hypersensitivity reactions, and the study of these is termed immunopathology. Hypersensitivity is a state of altered reactivity in which the body reacts with an exaggerated immune response to a foreign substance
Fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) is a chronic pain syndrome characterized by central sensitization resulting in hypersensitivity of the skin and deeper tissues as well as fatigue. Possibly the princess in Hans Christian Andersen's 'The Princess and the Pea' suffered from FMS"

As the story goes, making an effort to find a real princess to marry her son, the Prince, the Queen placed a pea on the bed, and covered it with 20 mattresses and 20 feather beds. When the young lady awoke the next morning, she said she had hardly slept at all because of a bump in the bed. The queen said "nobody but a real princess would have such delicate skin."


Sparks of Spirit Glass said...

What an expressive and artistic way to not only "shout out" your frustration, but also to inform others about this issue. I suspect it is much more common than we think!
Yet again, your work shows remarkable sensitivity and eloquence!

estherbeads said...

I have always had the same problem, but never considered myself hypersensitive. That is a naturally sensitive area, and labels simply don't belong there. Some clothing manufacturers are beginning to realize this, and print the information straight onto the fabric. There's hope yet!
Meanwhile, I love the idea of this project!