I took these photos of Anna on a sunny autumn afternoon in Georgetown. We’ve spent the past few weeks in a quiet neighborhood with a few friends—our pod. The word “pod” strikes me as an oddly cutesy way to describe a group of people with whom you’ve chosen to survive a pandemic. But words are often strange like that, slightly ill-fitted to their usage, tinged with misty connotations.
The word “glamour” has an interesting etymology. It originally comes from a Scottish word for occult rituals, meaning a type of deceptive enchantment. It wasn’t until the early 20th century and the rise of Hollywood that the word came to be associated with allure and romance.
Since quarantine started, one of the things I’ve been surprised to miss is the process of getting ready—the anticipation and care that goes into styling oneself for an event. Of course, we can still do our makeup and dress up, but it isn’t the same when we can’t go anywhere. It seems like a central component of glamour is performance, and so its spell is broken without the promise of an audience. In this series, I evoke old Hollywood to investigate my personal nostalgia for glamour. How is the performance of self-presentation tied to identity? Is the nostalgia I’m feeling merely superficial? Am I retrospectively romanticizing a process that was never really that enjoyable?
The original definition of glamour implies subterfuge. These photos, like most photos, are also glamorous in this way—at best contrived, at worst a pretty lie. I posted one of them with the caption “Anna getting ready.” Anna laughed at that. Getting ready for what? To take these photos and then promptly change back into normal clothes and log onto Zoom? The truth just wouldn’t have made for a very glamorous caption.
Photos by Abigail Tulenko
Modeled by Anna Glenn