Thursday, 20 May 2010

Pale, with Books

I bought this dress years ago at a second hand store in Helsinki. It came with a little jacket that I really wanted, and since the owner of the shop wouldn't let me buy just the jacket, I was stuck with the dress too. It wasn't that I didn't like the dress, but I figured that it would be one of those "can-only-wear-with-a-tan" dresses that had accumulated into my wardrobe over the years.

For as long as I can remember being pale was something I really disliked. When I was younger I tried tanning old school style knowing what the risks were. I'd burn myself, then wait to see my skin peel off. More recently I tried self-tan lotions and sprays, only to be disgusted with the smell of the stuff, and the realisation that they always ended up looking orange on me. I have learned my lesson when it comes to sun exposure, and these days I protect myself with sun block more carefully than ever before. I have also come to realise that being pale isn't all that bad. I have decided to wear this dress, despite it making me look even paler than I already am. Sometimes you just have to give yourself the permission to say "f**k it". This is the skin I'm in, and so be it, and it is not going to stop me from wearing a dress I like.

I spent yesterday in Owego with Rose, and as you might be able to tell by the stuff I am wearing in the picture above, it was a lot colder than today. Owego has many cute small stores (we probably went into every single one), but instead of going for hand-crafted jewelry and antique porcelain, I ended up coming home with old books from a fantastic second hand bookshop called Riverow. I could have spent the entire day browsing through the old art and architecture books they had, as well as the section of antique prints and photos. I got stuck at the psychiatry shelf though, and spent my money on two wonderful additions to my research material.

Albert Deutch's The Mentally Ill in America was published in 1937, at the time when great hopes were lingering in the air in regard to insulin shock treatment. It is one of the first histories of the treatment of the mentally ill in the United States, and certainly the first whose author was not trained in psychiatry. In 1948 Deutch went on to publish The Shame of the States, which revealed the horrible conditions of state hospitals in the United States.

Clinical Lectures on Mental Diseases by T.S. Clouston was published in the United States in 1884. The author was the superintendent of the Edinburg Asylum for the Insane in Scotland. This American edition comes with US-specific information about the legislation and treatment of the mentally ill in each state. The book has chapters on issues such as epileptic insanity, insanity of masturbation, as well as on the mental diseases that threaten women due to menstruation, breast-feeding and giving birth. It features numerous case studies, treatment plans (among other things, diet of a dozen eggs and six pints of milk a day for melancholiacs) and advice to psychiatrists as to how to diagnose their patients.

The copy I bought used to belong to a doctor working at Ward's Island Insane Asylum in New York (now known as Manhattan Psychiatric Center) in the late 1880s.

Jacket: Urban Outfitters
Stripy sweater: Diesel
Skirt: American Apparel tube dress
Tights: H&M
Shoes: F-Troupe / Beamhill
Scarf: flea market

Dress: second hand / Ruutu-Rouva
Belt: second hand / UFF
Hat: Gap
Sunglasses: Max&Co.


Frankie said...

I love your dress. I think it looks gorgeous with your pale skin.

PS I have been following your blog for I while now - Love it!

Frankie x

Modesty is Pretty said...

both outfits are very nice =) I think natural skin color is more attractive than orange-looking skin.

Teenysparkles said...

I really love those shoes!

Charlotte said...

What finds these books are! You know the eggs-and-milk diet was one tried on Virginia Woolf, at various times in the treatment of her bipolar disorder.
I had serious skin cancer a few years ago, the result of childhood sunburns and attempts to have "a healthy tan." You are wise to stay pale. It's how nature made you!
I like your dress.

Velma Vex said...

Thanks. Your post was just what I needed--I was just about to troop off to smear on some tanner. I hate the smell of it, and it is always streaky and too yellow. Maybe this is the summer I can embrace my pallor (Swedish-Norwegian lineage). You look lovely in that cool, languorous dress!

Vasiliisa said...

I admit I haven't read ALL your posts - even tho they're so interesting - but what are you going to do with your research on mental institutes? I mean, are you writing an essay or article or something? It could be just for you and maybe us :). But I do think you've got something here, so you could definitely offer this topic for some magazine - or it could become a book even!

Jane W. said...

The drape and the print of the dress are stunning, and you wear it beautifully.

Rad_in_Broolyn said...

Great job with those book finds!
I also think you look great in that dress, and I'm glad that you're wearing what you want. It's wonderful to hear that you've chosen to accept your skin tone, which I think is really lovely.
I think blogging has helped me to dress with more abandon, which has been really liberating. My mom has always given me a hard time about being "dark like your dad," but I've stopped listening to her.

Laura said...

That dress is amazing! You pull it off wonderfully. And I reallyreallyreally like the combination of those shoes with those tights.

petra said...

The dress is lovely!