Janelle Ducheine: Italia as Text 2022

Rome as Text

Me and my woman-ly body” by Janelle Ducheine of FIU at The Capitoline Museum on May 12, 2022.

Photo taken by Janelle Ducheine @ Capitoline Museum cc 4.0

Being born and raised in Miami, I have never been scared to show parts of my skin. The suffocating temperatures year round wouldn’t allow me to be fully covered without nearly fainting. I grew up wearing mini shorts and crop tops, and never thought much of it, especially since my own mother and other female relatives encouraged it. The youth in my community also followed this trend, despite most of the US having unsolicited opinions about woman’s apparel. Of course, every now and then there would be the occasional intense stare of a perverted older man or the passive aggressive comment from a “prude” woman, but it wasn’t something I haven’t learned to overcome. Through this, I was able to become comfortable with my own body and accept it for it’s perks and flaws. So coming to Italy, it was only natural that my choice in clothing matched my habits. 

Yet by the end of my first day there, I felt like I made the wrong choice. 

I was greeted with similar temperatures and assumed the locals would have a similar ideology. But I was gravely mistaken. As we explored the various cities, it was evident that i was a foreigner. 

Roman culture includes the acceptance, celebration, and normality of the female body. This was evident in many of the historic sites we visited. Like the room dedicated to Venus at the Capitoline Musuem. The placement in the center of the room and pose of the sculpture showcases her innocence and beauty in its purest form. Her stance slightly covered her intimate areas insinuating that she isn’t being excessively open, but comfortable in her image. I assumed, if the history of Rome is based on accepting and living in your body and sexuality, the people of Rome should be the same way right? Wrong. 

I was instead welcomed by estranged and curious stares by adults and children alike. Women often seemed disgusted, men stoped and gawked in the middle of the streets, and children were confused. And all I wore out of the “norm” was a cropped shirt. Me peers and I were instantly uncomfortable, especially after the rate of being catcalled were dramatically increased. 

The people of Rome in fact did not typically follow the pattern as their ancestors as I assumed. Despite the heat, they were mostly covered. I didn’t even see many natives wear regular shorts or tank tops. The most skin that would be shown would be when women wore dresses, the shortest being right above the knee. 

Seems like the people of Miami take on more ancient Roman traits (in terms of their bodies) than many current Italians. 

Pompeii as text

Forgotten city” by Janelle Ducheine of FIU at Pompeii on May 16, 2022.

Photos and collage taken by Janelle Ducheine @ Pompeii cc 4.0

The eruption of mount Vesuvius is easily one of the most horrific tragedies in the history of Italy. At the time, Pompeii was one of the newer acquired territories of Rome, under its reign for less than 200 years. Although it was small, it was a prosperous city that was a hub for the production of fish sauce. Ironically, the city did not receive aid from the Roman government at the time of the explosion despite its economic success. From a political point of view, it makes sense to choose the more important subject at the time, which was the construction of the colosseum. But from a economic point of view , it does not coincide with their ideals they were trying to spread. The Roman Empire went through a phase of constant expansion, they conquered many countries all throughout Europe in search for financial advances. Pompeii, once conquered, was tending to this standard fluently. The complete disregard of the well-being of its people likely made a significant Impact on the economic well-being of the empire.

Before the fall of Pompeii, the city was well advanced in many fields making day to day activities simpler, many of which are still used today. The concessions stand where food was made and kept warm is a modern day stove. The reflective stones on the ground are now todays’ road lights. Many modern day individuals, especially Americans, would like to consider themselves the original creatives to their work when I’m reality it is the rework of something from the past.

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