My work has always been about my personal journey. Over the last year it has been a quest for self acceptance. My work focuses on body image and the definition of beauty as it relates to visual culture. Using a variety of media my work evolved from the embodiment of guilt that comes from trying to conform to the ideals of western culture, to acknowledging the true power struggle lies within, and finally to redefining beauty.
There is a universal pressure that visual culture creates in each individual to seek perfection. In the western culture we seek thinness to an extreme. The sculpture Ribbon’s Entrapment is meant to portray this value to the furthest extreme; an extreme we should no longer consider beautiful. However, this figure does not just fight the pain of conforming to social pressures, but is haunted by her knowledge that she chose to disfigure herself for beauty.
As I began to struggle with my own need to conform to society’s expectation, my work also began to change. The pieces all include conflict: the body verses an unknown force. Through my work I began to realize this unknown force is the definition of beauty that I was trying to squeeze myself into, and I didn’t fit. The important part of this realization is that the choice to fit was mine. In the piece, Feeding into it, the story of choice is told. The table has been set with pieces of a woman. The main meal is a reclining female torso. It’s clear that recently a woman sat at the table, her lipstick stained glass has been emptied. The photographs above the table show that she has been dining for decades. Today she chose to leave. She leaves the definition of beauty that has been fed to her in order to find her own definition. As a self portrait, I confronted my own “imperfections” in this piece, in order to redefine acceptance of myself.
My work to redefine myself and redefine beauty wasn’t linear. Often I found myself revisiting the struggle of choice. Changing what I, or anyone, has believed for so long isn’t an easy task. Still, my definition of beauty began to evolve around the concept of passion. In Jessica’s Violin, I chose to represent a beautiful woman expressed through her talent. Her violin becomes a part of her body as her passion for music is a part of her soul.
I hope through exhibiting this work and my struggles with self acceptance, I might encourage others to take on the challenge to find their own definition of beauty and self, despite the expectations that have been placed on them.