A few months back I posted a series of self-portraits in which I “became” different women in our society through makeup and photo manipulation. The project was my first attempt at combining photography and writing in order to point out what is so often overlooked. I was stunned by the reaction the series brought, so I thought I’d post a few more photos I took during the same shoot.
Here are the three other women I chose to become.
~ ~ ~
The Hidden Woman is the one who needs time for others to see past to the problem. At first glance she’s perhaps sad or tired, but it takes a closer look and dedication to see the pain she’s in. The picture was taken with this in mind and I hope it takes the viewer a moment or two to discover what’s wrong. The Hidden Woman slips through the cracks in our society without empathy and without acknowledgement, simply because we fail to see past her face. Maybe she feels like she wants this isolation, or that she deserves it, but in truth she deserves to be loved and seen and known. And I believe we should be the kind of people who show her that.
The Bitter Woman, while she certainly doesn’t sum up feminism, she is the “stereotypical” feminist. The one who has chosen to internalize the words, “Bitches get stuff done.” She’s labeled and then brushed aside in our minds, but what everyone fails to see is the real reason for her attitude. She has been wounded enough that she feels this way of being is the only way she’ll get the respect she deserves. I don’t believe being a feminist is synonymous with being a bitch, so for those who see this stereotype and decide that her attitude applies to all, perhaps they should step back and consider what might have made her so bitter.
The Emotional Woman is the opposite of the Bitter Woman. She is everything so utterly adored from female movie stars down to your favorite kindergarten teacher. She’s sweet, sensitive, and she cries an awful lot. The reason she is included in this series is because, so very often, women must choose between being the Emotional Woman or some variation of the Bitter Woman. The Emotional Woman is idolized as feminine in every day social circles, but when it comes down to it, she’s overlooked as a leader and as a thinker. She’s “too soft” or “too fragile.” Too womanly. The Emotional Woman was brought to my attention when my dad described Hillary Clinton as too butchy and tough. I asked, “Well if she was sweeter or seemed more tenderhearted, would you think she was strong enough to lead our country?” He hesitated just a bit before saying, “Of course I would.”
So when it really comes down to it, if even my father hesitates, (a man who actually married a woman with a personality strong enough to lead a nation), how would others view the Emotional Woman in leadership? Even I sometimes find myself criticizing female leaders who seem to be too feminine. So while this woman at first glance doesn’t seem forgotten, I think she’s actually the one we forget the most.
~ ~ ~
I found pieces of myself in each of these images, even if my intention was to become someone else. There are so many wounds that I keep hidden from the world, simply because I don’t feel they deserve to be known. I find myself so easily becoming bitter and distant when I feel abandoned. I don’t want to be seen as overly emotional, (despite being just about as sensitive as they come), for fear that I’ll look weak and lose respect.
Like I said in my previous post, I would love to hear your thoughts on these. This is me simply reminding anyone who will listen that these women exist. These “characters” are my way of joining all the other women who have already shown up and said, “You haven’t seen me before, but I’m here now.”