She was/She is/She isn’t
She was/She is/She isn’t examines the social, cultural, and communal expectations of white southern womanhood. The mythologized construct of the Southern Lady existed to manipulate southern identity and continues to be reinforced throughout generations of contemporary women. Southern society and culture reminds young women of their obligations to marriage, motherhood, beauty, and religion through familial and personal relationships, popular culture, the workplace, and daily interactions. This work also acknowledges the privilege that comes with being a young, white woman and recognizes the privilege in having the creative freedom to subvert these social and cultural expectations.
The work challenges, re-embodies, and disrupts southern ideology surrounding young women using inherited articles of clothing as well as items contributed by other southern women. Each article of clothing acts as a vessel for memory and corporeal material while the clothing style and aesthetic is curated to be representative of the Southern Lady and feminine expectations. The clothing constrains the body through material, social, and cultural inheritance, leaving it contorted and confused as the fabrics suffocate, bind, and restrict movement.
She was/She is/She isn’t critiques the cultural and social expectations placed on young women by creating a new visual language for the depictions of the white female body. The work presents the opportunity to accept and admire imperfection while challenging the viewer to contemplate their reaction when presented with an image of the female body and their participation in reinforcing cultural stereotypes. As a young woman, I am neither the expectations that I inherit nor is my body the legacy of traditional southern womanhood.