While visiting with friends in San Diego recently, somehow the topic of self-worth came up. My friend Veronica mentioned that the Dalai Lama didn’t understand the Western issue of low self-esteem– we are not born thinking negatively about ourselves, yet something sinister creeps in. The work of Boston area artist Jane Maxwell uses vintage fashion, advertising, and pop-culture ephemera to deconstruct the messages being sent to women and young girls by the fashion and entertainment industries.
Our body image issues don’t always begin with someone actually telling us we’re too fat, too skinny, too pale.. we are inundated daily, especially as women and young girls, with images of stick thin fashion models and actresses, being held up as the current standard of ideal beauty. Maxwell chooses to use silhouetted versions of these iconic figures, deconstructing them so that they become an anonymous “every woman”, which could help us to see the somber truth that these women have indeed become pawns in this game of idealized beauty.
This standard of beauty seems to fluctuate with each generation, remember the days of Reuben and his voluptuous figures? Or the curvaceousness of the iconic beauties of the 1950s? When will we reach a point where women of every size, shape, and color are held up as quintessentially beautiful? Maxwell’s work recognizes that struggle within us of that longing to be lauded for our unique beauty yet we continue to strive to attain the ideal.
What are your thoughts on Jane Maxwell’s work or on self-image in general? Where do you see the struggle?
To see more of the work of Jane Maxwell, please visit her website and Facebook page. Her work can be seen in galleries throughout the US, you can find a list of her representing galleries on her website.
Artist found via Lanoue Fine Art. Images via the artist’s website and Lanoue Fine Art.