Take a second to think about the idea of all the billions of people in the world. It is hard to grasp that every single one of those people have their own personality and sense of self. Even twins, whether they be identical or fraternal, have their own identity. Thus, if every person were to make a commodity self portrait we would have endless versions of how people view themselves.
As I started to brainstorm on ideas of how I would represent myself, I found it quite difficult. How is one supposed to explain to others how they view their inner selves based off of images they like or clothes they wear? I didn’t want to feel like I take the identity of these intimate objects. But then, I realized it isn’t so much the actual image but the meaning you put behind it. Thus, I got the idea to have my portrait represent where I get my inspiration from, and how I feel about being a women as a whole. The first thing I did was paint my entire head. After that I took clipping from a modern day Nylon magazine and Teen magazine for girls that was dated 1970. My reason for doing this was to show how the perception of women beauty has changed over the years. In high school I was nominated for born in the wrong decade, so reflecting on that I thought this would be a very appropriate topic of elaborate on when depicting myself. In my life I draw role models from all throughout feminist history. I’ve always been so intrigued by history, which is logical since I am an art history major. Even more specifically, this fascination I have comes from the beauty I find within each era and how I try to incorporate it into my life.
I also covered the face with various text clipping I primarily found from the magazine from 1970. I thought they were so amusing because they were put in a teen girl magazine to be slogans of encouragement in a certain way, yet in today’s context it is realized how absurd and misogynistic they are. Some of my favorite were, “ He has his car, you have your clothes” and “Deal with a women’s body like a women”. The reason I put them on my portrait was because I feel like women in general, as well as myself, still deal with slogans similar to this that are meant to put us down on a daily basis. However, kind of like the magazines intent, I find them very empowering. This is because I love challenging the word of others, taking something negative and finding strength in it.
Next, the flowers I put on my head serve multiple purposes. One is very straight forward, in which I really enjoy nature and find it to be a very majestic concept. The second is the simile that women are like flowers. Women are like flowers because the grow, blossom, and evolve. Furthermore, every flower is never exactly the same. I found myself very inspired by Ana Mendita’s artwork in nature and how it connects with a women’s body. I placed them at the top of the head as well, to symbolize the intelligence of women implying that one’s mind is always expanding as well. The closed eye’s are also a symbol of this as I hoped they would support the idea of myself taking in all the comments pasted across the face and processing them into a critical critic.
Finally, a few of the clipping specifically represent the gender performativity I feel I play in my daily life. The first is the lips with the popsicle. Being what some may consider, “societally attractive” the act of myself eating a popsicle becomes immediately over sexualized. I found this clipping to be so more ironic than how I actually view myself. That is because my love of popsicles is subconsciously fitting a stereotype. I also took this clipping as a play on words from the movie Spring Breakers. Throughout that movie the girls are constantly shown sucking on firecrackers popsicles. Director Harmony Korin argues that was his way of symbolizing the american dream. Thus, with that idea in mind this portrait is my personal critic on the american dream. The other particular one that stuck out to me was the text about the cars being for men. I don’t limit myself to what are the stereotypical hobbies and interests of women. I’m addicted to cars just as much as I’m addicted to clothing. I think my self portrait depicts a lot of irony, which is relevant to the satirical nature I feel gender performativity has.
Thus, my portrait is a representation of myself because it shows that I feel I’m not defined by one category of beauty standards. I don’t let the negativity of society get me down in my pursuits in life. Rather I utilize them in ways that work for me. I like to think of myself as constantly evolving, and drawing from the past and future to create my own unique identity. I don’t let the voice of gender performativity get in my way of doing things I love. Hence, my commodity self portrait is the essence of my view on my inner self.
Everyone has multiple selves, how you act around your friends, your parents, professionals, and alone. These multiple selves are something everyone posses in which they make a person feel more comfortable in any given situation. I may be only speaking for myself when saying I constantly make imaginary scenarios I would love to live in my head, but it is a mechanism that keeps me motivated in my daily life.
When thinking about my project, as usual I approached it with a very creative and imaginative eye, rather than a more literal one. My “normal” self is the middle portrait. I captured myself in what I would consider a typical setting for myself. I have my iconic chocker and one of my many strange outfit combinations. Although I have my daily makeup and accessories, I often change my daily style vastly. Sometimes I feel uncomfortable with my love for different styles. One day I want to dress super girly, another day laid back, and then the third super grungy. I occasionally evaluate myself and wonder if my constant change is due to me subconsciously playing a role for other people. However, then I always realize it is because I’m inspired from a wide variety of cultures.
From this thought I got the idea for my two different portrayals. The first is the one on the left. As I’ve previously discussed I attribute a lot of who I am to generations of women from the past. One that I’m extremely fascinated with is the 50’s housewife character. It is ironic that I choose this because I don’t really ever picture myself in the future being married. I have many goals I want to accomplish in the future and that is more important to me. Thus, to convey this idea I placed the subtle gun in with the bouquet. I feel that there is this certain sexuality and objectifying gaze about the housewife that exists in society. I constantly feel itemized by men in my life, in which they look, admire, then move on to the next. This feeling of being just an object is something that I really struggle with. Thus, I there in the surprise in the bouquet of flowers as a warning that makes you look twice and take a second guess. Secondly, is the 20’s flapper girl. I’m obsessed with the culture of women of this time, especially regarding the sexual liberation. I think it is the first time in history that women started to take control of their relationships with men. I find great strength and confidence in my gender when reflecting on this character. As I just mentioned, my relationship with the male gender is something I really struggle with, finding the balance of staying true to myself and caving to patriarchal pressures. Thus, this character of the 20’s flapper is somewhere I find liberation and comfort. It has given my this strange value regarding sex in which is almost look at it as an art-form. I think the women of this time exude a rare beauty that has died out over the years. So, with that I define myself as a women composed of many characters each bringing something unique to the table.