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For my final portfolio for Introduction to Photography (Summer 1 2021) , I chose to take on femininity as my subject — a daunting challenge. What is femininity?

To me, the girl takes on many forms. We are who we are at truest form when we're little, before we're even aware of the influence that will one day poison us. Male attention, male fantasies, and the male gaze become intertwined into the identity of a girl, until one day she notices that her mind is not her own anymore, her opinions of herself aren't her own. They are "his" — his identity remains a mystery, but there he is in your head, day after day, making you watch yourself through his eyes. Making you consider every move from his perspective, making you question who you are in the name of the man. And, more and more, you start to dress for him, act for him, you become the girl that men want. This overtly sexualized persona of a girl is just one piece of femininity, and an incredibly valid one to explore.

This persona is usually what meets the eye with a girl: the polished, perfect, yet sexy and fuckable woman that she wants to greet the world. This piece, however, lives in coexistence with the little girl. The little girl who sees herself as she is, who exists quietly and intimately. She is around when no one is looking, when the blinds are closed and the woman she inhibits doesn't feel like she has to put on a show for her imaginary watchers any longer. Only when the man surrenders inside of you can she truly live in peace.

There is an essence about women and girls that I have always been fascinated with, but never been able to define. It is what I strove to capture in these photos: the silent, graceful, painful fight between these two spirits: the man and the girl.


I wanted to see the world in a feminine perspective, but what is a typical feminine experience if not at least partially a masculinely-influenced one? I wanted to move past inherent objectification, move past what I'm ingrained to find beautiful and girlish. But, I also wanted to completely capture this daily exercise on the woman's behalf: the performance of femininity as it is culturally and societally defined. It's the juxtaposition of these two ideas that make femininity so complex. The play we put on as women, the show we perform every day, is tedious. It is punishing. It is detailed and unforgiving.

These photos are moments of quiet yet guarded privacy, the moments when the curtain is drawn, if only for split second. This is the essence of femininity.

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