Mixed media on ceramic statue
Artists: Jacquelyn Krieger, Lucy Robinson
The Womannequin was born from the desire of two mothers to openly discuss how society capitalizes on female bodies.
We adorned Womannequin with magazine imagery to explore society’s treatment of the sacred feminine. The fun of fashion and the art of beauty resides alongside the objectified female who is sliced and diced, her flesh and her photograph, to measure up to the media’s idea of what a woman should be, which is without question, different and better than who we are. Namely, younger, prettier, skinnier and sexier. (But not too sexy or we risk the label of slut!) While we feel inspired by many empowered and creative females profiled in today’s media, these pieces are juxtaposed by advertisements for weight-loss drugs and age-defying nip/tuck treatments, leaving us marginalized and confused.
We affixed Womannequin with our own personal objects to represent advances in modern medicine that are empowering like the ovulation test and pregnancy test, invasive like the insulin syringe, and careful like the weigh-ins. Science has opened miraculous windows into the womb using lab tests and sonograms, but the results are often interpreted using subjective numbers as the only benchmarks, resulting in misdiagnoses that fail to take into account the whole person. This fear-based culture turns a natural physiological process into illness and birth into a medical emergency, numbing our glory along with our pain.
While the businesses of beauty and birth often use pressure and fear to sell and “save” us, we celebrate femininity as something that is not inherently flawed as we were taught by patriarchy, but rather, inherently perfect. As we silence the critics, internal as well as external, we learn a new way of seeing–and loving–ourselves.
I once had a job as a “fit model” for a large clothing company where each day I was measured from head to toe. This photo was taken by Travis Yohnke in a series we called “Measuring Up.” When pregnant, I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes and told unless I injected myself with insulin syringes in my pregnant belly each day, my baby would be too large for me to deliver or be still born. And now as my husband and I explore having a second child, I have experimented peeing on ovulation test sticks.
– Jacquelyn Krieger
I spent a harrowing chunk of my adolescence with my nose buried in a beauty magazine. These had a profound effect on me. In observing hundreds and thousands of images and words formulated to make me feel like I always had more to “fix,” my impressionable young mind became fodder for insecurities. I developed distorted self-perception and disordered eating. Only in re-learning how I see myself, using an artist’s eye rather than a critic’s eye, have I grown to love my body instead of feeling shamed by a myriad of physical quirks ranging from scoliosis to hair on my big toe.