The post on Facebook says, “I have been nominated in the 3 Works for 5 Days Artist Facebook Challenge”. The artist who has posted these words shows three of his/her art works each day for five days – a mini exhibition. The artist also writes, “For the next five days I will be nominating some of my favourite artists to do the challenge”.
It is rather like a relay race; each artist ‘runs’ while simultaneously passing on the baton to artists waiting on the sidelines. I don’t know if the challenge is to post one’s art as we all post our art on a regular basis. Perhaps the challenge lies in being asked in the first place.
This challenge currently on Facebook recalls some painful memories from primary school.
Two popular children (invariably sporty boys) are picked by the teacher to captain rival sports teams. Each boy takes it in turn to form his team by picking classmates. Best friends are grabbed first, then okay kids until finally only leftovers remain. I know each time that I will be last or second-last because I am bad at sport and shy; consequently, unpopular.
Being bad at sport is the worst thing you can be at a New Zealand primary school in the 1960s. (Perhaps this has changed in the 2000s?) The stigma influences every other social interaction in the classroom.
So now we are at the primary school’s annual dance. I am twelve and thirteen (1971 and 1972 respectively). Girls sit on one side of the hall. Boys march across to choose their dance partners. I may be chosen by the lowest-pecking order boy if I am lucky. Or I may be further humiliated by a teacher singing out, “So-and-so, come and dance with Julie. She is still sitting down and we don’t want ANY girls not dancing!”
The roles are reversed once or twice. Giggling girls flutter across the expanse of floor to deposit themselves at the feet of their desired. I take my shame with me. Body language and expression are apologetic as I front up to the hapless boy who has lucked out this time.
In the decades since then I have healed and found self-confidence. Yet I never want to find myself in the position of waiting passively to be picked by peers – for anything.
Tori Amos sings, “Not every girl is popular/popular/popular/not every girl is a pearl/” *
* “Oysters” from her album “Unrepentant Geraldines”
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