Commodity Self Portrait

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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.


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