A little over a year ago, the nude model in me asked, What makes me beautiful? The journalist in me replied, Let’s find out. Thus was born All Dolled Up, a long-term, multi-media project documenting and examining the personal, social and political construction of feminine beauty.
June 30, 2011 marks the final day of the initial phase of this project. For one year – since July 1, 2010 – I have been documenting and recording everything that I, as one modern woman in our Western culture, do to “make myself beautiful”. I have saved all the artifacts and paraphernalia I have used, including eye shadow, make-up remover pads, lotion bottles, shampoo containers, nail polish and even some unwanted pubic hairs. I have saved all my receipts, so that I can know exactly how much I spend on beauty throughout an entire year.
I began this project because I believe that all women are beautiful – but very few of us actually think so. By discussing and documenting definitions and ideas that surround female beauty, bodies and sexuality, I hoped that more of us would be able to see ourselves and other women for the stunning creatures we all are.
This project is not about condemnation but about examination. Most women love creativity, beauty, colour and health, and we often express these passions through our clothes, make-up and bodies. Problems arise, however, when women feel forced to look a certain way in order to be socially acceptable and sexually attractive.
Over the past week, I have been typing up my daily handwritten journal entries. This has reminded me of the winding journey I have been on. Originally, one of my personal goals for this year was to fully accept my body, and to truly believe that I am beautiful. Through doing so, I hoped that perhaps I could inspire a few other women to do the same thing.
A year later, I do not think I have really achieved this goal – there are still many days when I feel ugly, and dislike various parts of my body. However, on July 5, 2010, I wrote in one of my daily journal entries: “I certainly do think that truly loving and accepting your body is a very profound feminist statement.”
I still believe this is true. I also believe that – even if women battle daily with beauty and body image – discussing, thinking about and sharing these issues is a huge achievement in itself. Having the courage to share our own stories and struggles is also integral to achieving change on a personal and social level and to developing a positive, respectful definition of feminine beauty.
When I began this project, I also envisioned that it would last for just one year. However, I now realise that I still have a lot more work to do! First of all, I am going to create multi-media collages from all of the beauty objects I have saved, and exhibit them (I will let you know when this happens!). I also hope to publish my daily journal entries in the form of a small book, so that you can read them too! Finally, I am developing a series of workshops to go along with this project, which I hope to host over the next couple of years.
I could not have done this project without all your love, support and participation. Thank you so much. I look forward to working and sharing with you all as this project continues. You are beautiful.
(The sign below reads: “The revolution will be feminist, or won’t be.”).