International Women's Day

After almost posting an inadvertently rapey Instagram caption this morning, I was reminded it's International Women's Day. And since I do a lot of stuff with a lot of those and am one of those myself, I feel as though maybe I should say some things. So here it goes:

There isn't a woman alive that hasn't hit the ceiling. In her job, her relationship, her culture. Every one of us has felt that hand of old ideas and even older traditions unexpectedly grab you by the back of the collar and yank you back.

It's scary. It's unfair. And it's a very real reminder that we still have so, so far to go.

But you know what pigeonholes women more than systemic oppression? Ourselves.

Since we now live with seemingly endless options, upgrades and swipes, perfection now somehow seems like a more attainable reality. And the effort to attain it, at least optically, has begun to breed an age of insecurity and anxiety.

On one end of the spectrum, we have more female CEOs and politicians than ever before. And on the other, the female form is so sexualized that almost all Facebook Ads have to be gender neutral to abide by the guidelines. 

"Hey Taylor, you take an awful lot of hyper-sexual shots of yourself and other women. Hypocrite?"

I'm glad you brought that up, self. Wanna know the difference? Because there is one.

I think women are phenomenal. Every woman I shoot reminds me of that in a slightly different way. With some I am reminded that the roads currently set out really aren't the only options.

 

And with others I am reminded why women have been seen as nurturers and the subject of art throughout history. 

And it makes me sad to think that almost 99% of those I've met feel like they could be more than they are. They feel like they could be stronger emotionally, different physically, better mothers or wives, gutsier artists or business people. And out of anything that holds them back, they are the worst to themselves. 

There are new options, more options. And with those come new challenges and new roadblocks. Some imposed by outside forces, but many come from the internal battle of expectation versus exploration.

You cannot have it all. Anyone that told you that was lying to you to keep you from fearing the future. You will always be making choices and you will always be making sacrifices. But build your life around something worth sacrificing for and the pain will always be worth it. 

Whatever that is to you. Go forward with conviction - because standing behind your choices now requires every ounce that you have. Choosing a career will bring you questions about your child bearing years and exposure to oppression and sexism on nauseating levels. But if that is your path, you need to accept and assess what impedes it and learn to play the hand you were dealt. You will play an entirely different hand than the person next to you, but if you're pulling up a chair to a game that existed long before you got there, you must accept that it's a long, long process to change the rules. And you may never get to play with the new ones, but maybe you can be a part of their inception.

And if you find yourself headed down a more traditional road of being a wife, mother and support system, holy shit do we need you! Have you seen our world lately? Terrifying. You're so brave. Fuck this generation; focus all your energy on not raising a useless skin bag. Seriously, we need new people. Capable people. Raise a thinker or a do-er or a problem solver. We don't need more influencers. 

The idea that a subservient human is a weaker human is entirely false. The truth is that a subservient human following a weak human is a weaker human. For the woman who "puts her dreams on hold" to be the support of her spouse or family, you are just as powerful. Sometimes more so than the woman that stands alone.

Because you are patient.

You can carry the weight of more than yourself.

And if you have chosen well, you know that following someone's dreams that are bigger than yours will inevitably lead to you accomplishing yours as well.  

The head would be nothing without the backbone. 

Regardless of where you land or stand or whatever position you're in for this argument, let's abandon the pursuit of perfection. You'll never get it because no one will. Stop stifling yourself in an effort to seem like someone else. In reality, anyone that asks you to change for them does not love you the way you deserve to be loved. Be that your parents, your partner or your friends.

I'm sorry. 

I don't think anyone anticipated this to be easy (they also didn't anticipate Instagram or Tinder...)

But no war is won from the outside and no one that stands on the sidelines with bristol board gets a fucking participation ribbon. 

So stop beating yourself up over your choices.

Stop judging the woman next to you and stop judging the woman inside of you. Because at the end of the day all of our vaginas are trying to fucking kill us all and the key to happiness is actually perfecting your pH. 

And all of these photos are of this (currently) bald beauty Brenna, because one day a few years ago she asked me to shoot her and said "just don't make me pretty" and I think that changed my life. 

Taylor Oakes