A revealing series of self-portraits during the quarantine
Here we are again. These profiles were photographed and written during the spring months when we were first introduced to the virus, when the city was in full lockdown, and before our focus shifted, appropriately, to this new civil rights movement. But here we are again. We present these diaries just as when they were written: vulnerable, real time snapshots by the individuals who experienced them.
By Kristin Jones, May 2, 2020
I knew I wanted to work in the film industry ever since I was a little kid. I wore sunglasses around the house and posed and my mom would pretend to be blinded, “Oooh, Hollywood!”
Of course, the film industry is not glamorous. Lots of deals that can fall through in a second, grueling 12 or more hours each day of work, and, let’s be real, following OSHA guidelines does not mean a fun wardrobe when you’re working on set.
Still, there’s nothing like having everything come together for a beautiful movie or tv show that’s piped into homes all around the world – I love to make magic.
I live similarly to how I work. When I found myself living and working exclusively inside my home for several months (and probably many more months to come), I found it unacceptable. The long hours, the sparse “set,” and the basic uniform of leggings and a t-shirt were simply unacceptable to me.
My life was not on pause. The world, while focused on a pandemic, was not coming to a standstill. Previously, all my energy was devoted to work, my clients, and having fun with friends after work. When that went away, I felt lost, and I knew I had to make changes. I was alone, but I did not want to be lonely.
If external forces were removed, where was the magic in my own life?
Just because so many of my normal pleasures were no longer an option, doesn’t mean small delights couldn’t be found in my new stay-at-home life. Luckily, I discovered that sometimes the best ideas are simple ones.
Getting out of my head, focusing on myself, being a human in a human body is the best lifeline ever. Decorating my home (finally), upgrading my lounge wear, and baking, painting, knitting – these were all things that I wanted to do, but never had time for, but more importantly, they were things that reminded me that I’m still here and part of this world.
I have a box full of photos and art that never got hung when I moved in, a living room that was constantly being rearranged due to photo shoots, and fabric, clothes, and yarn crammed in as many places as I could find. Organizing and creating a home instead of a place where I rest my head feels so affirming and relaxing.
And nothing against sweats or leggings, but lounging in silky slip dresses helps me feel more alive. I believe that a nicer wardrobe in general gives me more confidence, a feeling of being more capable, intelligent. But early in the pandemic I was neglecting my own advice in my own home.
One of my favorite quotes is by author Terry Pratchett: It’s still magic, even if you know how it’s done. I’ve had to remind myself of that, that which makes feel alive, and for me one of the easiest and fastest ways to feel that magic is in the clothes.
One of the silver linings of this current world in crisis is that I got to know myself much better. I was able to understand parts of myself that I wanted to explore. And luckily, we live in an age of social media – maybe I can’t meet new people at a cafe or run into friends as I’m walking down the sidewalk – I can still get dressed up and share, from my knitting and baking to my portraits. In true “Hollywood” style, I definitely go for a look, whether that’s reminiscent of Renaissance paintings, Roman era lounging, or the goddess Demeter in plague mask.
I want to remind everyone, and especially myself, that the world is still out there, art is always ready to be made, and yes, if you’re looking for glimpses beyond the mundane as I am, I am here, waiting to connect with you. Life is now, waiting to be lived and even enjoyed, despite the circumstances of the world.
Kristin Jones is a local costume designer and bespoke maker in the Memphis area for film, music videos, and concerts, and whose clothing designs have been published in magazines around the world. When she isn’t focusing on clothing, Kristin is immersed in the world of documentaries, freelancing for the Guardian, Imagine Entertainment, and Radical Media. Her musings have appeared in the Huffington Post, though you can find her most often at Kristin Magdalene.
The Quarantine Dairies, Memphis:
On Monday, March 23, 2020, in the first of many safety precautions responding to the oncoming Coronavirus, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland issued the “Safer at Home” shelter-at-home executive order that directed all Memphis residents to stay inside their homes unless “absolutely necessary to take care of essential needs.” All over Memphis, people from all walks and disciplines adjusted to a new way of life, almost entirely from home: teaching, working, holding online meetings, coping. With this profile series we have captured a sampling – Memphians willing to share their quarantine diaries. Compiled from submitted stories and various contributors, this series gives us snapshots of a variety of voices around the city and presents a part of the narrative that is the ever-changing landscape of 2020. StoryBoard is currently editing our compiled snapshot stories for publication – we are also collecting more stories for as long as the pandemic continues.
Edited by Kristin Jones and Mark Fleischer