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Masking Herself

Created in 2016

Masking Herself is a figurative visual commentary on the state of female sexuality and femininity. In the series, women are expressing their sexuality and femininity within the safety of a magical realism setting, and behind the anonymity of an animal mask, representing their innate sexual desire. 


I am curious how the risk of being sexually objectified, perceived as weak and unintelligent, and exposed to harassment and violence, causes women to develop a negative relationship with their sexuality and femininity. 


When I was growing up in the 90s and 2000’s in North America, sexual objectification of women was the norm. There were very few examples in the media of women that weren’t primarily valued for their attractiveness. At the same time, third wave feminism had produced a generation of women trying to become CEOs or enter male dominated industries like STEM. In their fight to gain respect and break glass ceilings, are women suppressing too much of themselves and struggling with expressing their sexuality and femininity all together?


In a People Magazine article in 2016, Emily Ratajkowski, a model and actress, is quoted for saying she’s “tired of hearing that women need to hold back their sexuality.” Ratajkowski is “known for speaking out about the societal pressures on women to be one thing – smart or sexy, but not both.” 


If you want to avoid being labeled a “slut”, or valued for your strength or intellect, what is left once you shed your layers built on fear and a drive to succeed. How can women reconnect with the side of themselves that society isn’t ready to accept?


Somewhere in between the abstraction and recognition of women’s expression of themselves, in our circles of women and feminine communities, we can find a soft space to be our true selves. 


The models in this series eventually reveal their identity to confront viewers with their pain, power, bravery, and most importantly, their unwillingness to give up fighting for what they deserve - freedom of expression without societal judgment.

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