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Controversial Tuesday: Ladyvespas and Gear or Lack Thereof) Part Two

Where is the line between fantasy and reality?

Part ii / Part i, click this.

What worries me is when this visual representation become reality (as with the images above) and the expectation for us (as woman scooterist) to provide and maintain- since it is the only visual context we have of women on scooters. What I mean by this is that images give us clues and information about rules and expectations for any said subject and shape an expectation for reality. When you only see images of woman on scooters with tons of skin showing and (cute!) heels over and over, you start believing that this is okay: it is what is normal. So you either follow suit or feel strange when you do wear all that silly protective gear because you aren’t going to need it.

Here is a comment from yesterterday’s post from thegallivant(thegallivant.wordpress.com) , that I thought really hit the core issue:

“This is such an important topic; for ladies who bike, or scoot, or rollerblade or participate in any activity that carries risk, there is always that inner debate: do I keep myself safe and risk looking…like I care about being safe? or do I choose to renege responsibility over my well-being so that I can potentially “look good” to passing males?”

Any woman, participating in any kind of activity,  feels pressure to always look sexy, no matter what the cost is to her person. These are inner dialogues that happen daily with woman and when it involves her safety, it shouldn’t have to be a question. There is a difference between the fantasy portrayed in these images and reality, but those images force an aesthetic that is hard to shake from your mind once you’ve seen it again and again. You want to be what you’ve seen, once you own your own vespa: you want to be That Vespa Babe. You want to portray that lifestyle and own every bit of the aesthetic yourself. You just have to realize that there is a “driving” aspect to this whole equation. ( BTW: Italian women, how do you do it?! I admire you so much.)

Ready for image overload? 

 If you want a quick way to understand what it is I am going on about just do a google image search for “vespa woman/women/girl”. (The best images of woman with gear on, that I found, were under “vespa chic”.) Then do a search for “vespa man”.  Notice anything?
The absolute worst example I came across was this photo:
This was posted on the Vespa Club of Britain forum and was taken at one of the London Scooter/Motorcycle festivals. Oy. (This particular board had many of these types of photos there.) This is the perfect example of what women scooterist mean to men and what we serve as for them.

A close second, this image exactly represents my beef:

No words.

When you never see images of woman with correct gear, or even bits of protective gear, on their person (as you would find in normal amounts of male scooterists images) you begin to forget the real world possibilities.

The photo above is from a movie being shot currently on the set of “Spring Breakers” featuring Selena Gomez and others. Who is going to see this movie? Tweens and teens. Girls and young women. Don’t you think they are going to see how amazing it is to ride these things and want to get their own scooter? ….And how will they want to dress? Most likely how they see their peers on screen dressing. (Of course that may or may not happen, because young girls are smart- as are their parents.) This movie sets up and perpetuates that whole visual aesthetic for young girls and women to take as the norm: the cool way to get around. 

This one baffles me. What mom would do this do her kid, if she knows that accidents are possible?

I admit: I want to be this girl. 

I happened upon a flickr account that is dedicated to posting photos of women on scooters, but of course it is from a man’s point of view (-still a great collection of photos- http://www.flickr.com/photos/45306509@N03/). I looked through the images, studying them and trying to get a ‘visual education’ on what women wear out in the world while scooting about. I noticed a very relaxed style to most of the women’s dress, which included everyday wear and not much protective gear.  I believe that this is proof that women reflect what is shown to them as the norm and wear little gear when they do actually ride their scooters.  This is the very reason why one woman is infamously known throughout the two wheeled world: Brittany Morrow, The Roadrash Queen. She actually put on more clothes before getting on her friend’s motorcycle, but because they weren’t actual protective gear (and only a cotton sweater) it wasn’t able to keep her safe in that very unfortunate accident. Read more about her story over at RoadRash Queen.

I know that I’ve struggled with these images at times because, while I want to protect myself, I also want to portray certain images I’ve seen on the internet. Even if I am fully aware that those outfits aren’t going to help me if an accident happens, it is still something I struggle with. I have had an accident and because I was wearing my gear, I wasn’t really hurt. It was a rather small incident (lucky!), but still my gloves and boots particularly saved my skin that day (and took a beating themselves).

 Unlike the photo above, most of us aren’t Superwoman and the reality of an accident isn’t a matter of IF but WHEN.

Don’t choose “cool” over safety, even if those heels look mighty fine when paired with the vespa. Of course context is always important (for example: riding in a parade with costume vs highway driving), but knowing when an image no longer serves reality you must make choices that best suit you.

Until next time,

Happy riding evreyone! Cheers.

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About kaie w. bird

A freelance photographer in Israel that likes to scoot about while documenting just about everything. P.S. I am a horrible editor. Forgive me.

9 responses to “Controversial Tuesday: Ladyvespas and Gear or Lack Thereof) Part Two

  1. In India you can see families of five on smaller scooters than this 😀

    • Yeah, I’ve seen a few photos of that. That is some talent. It is amazing what these little machines can do- if you let them do it! It seems a lot of vespa folks tend to baby theirs, I noticed. I, might be one of them. 😉

  2. thanks for the repost! And thank you again for writing on such a thought-provoking subject!

  3. This is fabulous! Maybe you can post some pictures of how you can look good while wearing protective gear. I know you’ve done it before, but while this post is amazing, it doesn’t show ladies how to get away from this mentality. With a good pair of boots and a cute scarf etc, you can look awesome and still be safe!
    Really love how you’ve written a post on this. It’s really sensitive to the core issue and also diplomatic. You rock!

  4. I know! Protective bikinis! (I want 5% of all sales!)

  5. lostdododesigns ⋅

    I really enjoyed this post! The girls in the sexy getup in Britain kind of creeped me out. Good job on bringing light to an important topic. Car/scooter culture is so overpopulated with sexualized images of women. I always enjoy seeing the photos on your blog of the real and beautiful women that ride in the real world. Keep up the good work!

    • Thank you, my love! …those girls are a hoot. They certainly don’t drive themselves and are basically just objects here. If they want that, then so be it. That photo was on some kind of motorcycle forum from Britain, I believe. That whole post there was full of gross photos. That was the worse one to me. Thanks again, yoush! ❤

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