I had to take a break from blogging to clear my head a bit. I have been trying not to get disheartened with the whole trying to get my work out there process. All of the support I have gotten online has helped – so thank you to everyone who has sent a kind word my way. I think it is more difficult when your work is very personal. When I began my project, I started with spas, hair salons and places that represented ‘beauty seeking.’ But as it progressed, it became clear that the plastic surgery offices best represented the level of pain at the source of female self-hatred that I was interested in finding. This self-hatred can manifest in many forms, it can be mild to severe. It is reflected in the sheer number of women with eating disorders and who have accrued terrible debt to get the clothes, shoes, beauty products, that might help them feel less inadequate. There is instant online financing for plastic surgery, you just click on a button on The American Society of Plastic Surgeon’s website and you can borrow perfection. For me, the machines and chairs represent the enormous pain I have inflicted on myself and the endless pursuit to be “good enough.” Much of my life has revolved around these pursuits and they left their mark. By making these photographs, I have an outlet to fight the thoughts and beliefs that hinder me. And more importantly to find value in myself for more than what I look like. Models & actresses are held up to women as the cultural ideal of female beauty. They have to struggle to achieve the perfection expected of them. But I am sure they many of these beautiful women, would like to be appreciated for more than their looks. It does not surprise me that many former models have stepped behind the lens: Lee Miller, Tierney Gearon, Helena Christensen, & Ellen Von Unwerth.
So in the midst of my own dark thoughts, yesterday I had a conversation with another photographer about galleries and success and I realized that the ‘why’ of my work is what is most important. If I focus on the other stuff, I lose sight of why photography has changed my life. Taking pictures and exploring the places & things that scare me is where I find freedom. If one person gains a better understanding of what it’s like inside the mind of a women struggling with body issues, then it is worth it. This is why I am somewhat disappointed by the current trend towards ‘process’ driven art. Work that uses process to stand in for something else can be very powerful, but to me a lot of stuff seems empty and more about style. The same way much of the big color typology trend does. Or the work is so personal to the artist that it is inaccessible to the viewer. Perhaps my work is not formally groundbreaking, but I don’t believe that work that is psychological and a reflection of its time should ever be dismissed. There should be room for different types of expression. Yes, the large repetitive print model has been overused. But in a world where women are being given the same large circular breasts, and equally plumped lips, straight and narrow hips and thighs, is it a surprise that the artists have also employed this form. So, I am going to embark on making more work, and try not to feel so negative about the state of photography. Like anything else, what is one day scorned is someday praised.