Saturday, February 17, 2007

Women Under Pressure

Jar number 1: Barbie under pressure. This jar is symbolic of women under pressure, striving for perfection. Barbie represents an unrealistic ideal of the female body image, an image that is continually reinforced through media: movies, magazines and TV. The Barbie in this jar is contorted in an unnatural fashion; just as women continually put unnatural pressures on themselves to strive towards the images and expectations that continually bombard them. The fact that Barbie is in water represents the female in today’s society always trying to keep her head above water but not always succeeding. In essence, Barbie is drowning.

Jar number 2: The masks we wear. In one sense, the items in this jar represent the ways in which women strive to be beautiful: a razor to shave leg and armpit hair; anti-aging cream to keep wrinkles at bay; foundation to create young flawless looking skin; lipstick to add colour; lacquer for the nails; tweezers to pluck those stray hairs… These are physical ways in which we try to hide our perceived flaws. However, this jar also symbolizes the masks we wear to hide our vulnerability. It is the difference between our private selves and our public selves. Each and every day with each and every person every one of us chooses what we will reveal. We create the image that we want to project.

Jar number 3: What’s super about that? Superwoman, super mom, the female executive, the domestic diva, and the sex goddess – it’s difficult to be it all. This jar illustrates the many roles the average female juggles and how we cope. The women’s liberation movement has brought about much freedom for females, but in many ways it has also created many pressures: stress and lack of time being just two. Many women work full time (represented by the money in the jar), yet working mothers still do about twice as much housework as their husbands (Morin, R. & M. Rosenfeld, 1998), (represented by the scrub rag). The condoms represent the responsibility of birth control that is often in the hands of the female. The diaper pin represents the female’s involvement in childrearing. The keys represent the running of errands, the transporting of children to various activities and the commute. How does she cope with it all? Is it the five cups of coffee? Mood altering drugs? Or the occasional headache medication?

10 comments:

jb3ll3 said...

She copes with it all by feeding her soul, nurturing her eye with beautiful things, indulging her ear with symphony of many kinds, coaxing her taste to find new things to savor, refining her touch to the exquisite only and giving her sense wild, wild freedom.

jb3ll3 said...

How do you do it?

Zen Wizard said...

The structure of Barbie's neck has always fascinated me: In real life, she would have potential as a sword swallower or porn star.

As a sad commentary on our current values, the latter profession would probably pay better and involve less travel from the San Fernando Valley. (I would assume that is where a real-life Barbie would choose to reside.)

Carla said...

JBelle, very well put. Indeed we all must seek out the beautiful things in life. As to your other question...cope, do you mean?

Cheryl said...

What an interesting post Carla. You've done a great job of encapsulating (excuse the pun) the problems with our society's attitudes towards women. Neat project!

Carla said...

Zen Wizard, the proportions of Barbie's whole anatomy are somewhat facinating. And indeed you are probably right, circus freaks are not in such high demand these days.

Cheryl, thanks for the kudos. Although the focus was on women, I realize that men too face many pressures in today's society...a project for another day, perhaps.

BurdockBoy said...

Wonderful visuals. Except Barbie seems a bit too happy still. Goodbye cruel world.....:)

Personally I would be better suited for a stay at home dad. I don't know shit about anything mechanical, I hate the business world, I love cooking, child rearing/homeschooling, and gardening. I don't mind doing the laundry. I always do the dishes. But I do have the pressure of getting a decent job to help pay the bills.

Carla said...

Burdockboy, I have a feeling that Barbie will always have that silly smile on her face. I'm sure she's on uppers. It seems that none of us are exempt from societal pressures, but least you know where your strengths lie.

The Fool said...

Interesting post, Carla. This may be a seed for a good class lesson...have the kids bring in a jar or plastic bag filled with random objects that represent "femininity" & "masculinity." It would be interesting to see how they perceive-define the expectations of their own role, as well as that of another. Do you use this idea in class?

Thanks for sharing.

tkkerouac said...

This is a great post,
I'm just searching your archives for your parents 50th wedding anniversary post.
No wonder women are by passing men with heart disease with the stesses and juggling we deal with.