The Complexity of Women

Last night I had just sat down to continue working on this image, #5 of 5 in my Of Land & Sea collection. I was going to add some texture to the subject’s belly area to further blend the octopus legs with the human body — I wanted it to look seamless. But then my husband passed by and said, “Wait, is she… she has octopus legs or is she sitting on the octopus?”

Because my full intent was to blend the two elements together, as I have in the other images, I hadn’t even noticed that, indeed, it looked like the woman was sitting on the animal.

I laughed — but then I realized something: I liked the potential for misunderstanding. For questioning. For viewers to feel unsure. Or, perhaps, to feel sure about what they’re seeing, only to realize that they misunderstood.

Misunderstood — wow. This is something that, I feel, so many adult women face in their lives every day. Society places women into neat categories with single descriptors: mostly career, mother, and old. A friend once lamented, “When I work full-time, people think I’m a neglectful mother. But when I stayed at home, people thought I lacked ambition, or even intelligence!” Another friend once told me, “Women over 50 are the single most neglected demographic in our society. At that point, you’re just a has-been, darling.”

(Yeah, she really did call me “darling” — she’s fabulous like that.)

But we women know that we never belong to just a single category. We are incredibly complex, incredibly dynamic, multi-talented, multi-tasking, strong, smart, resourceful, and flexible. It’s a tragedy that we’re so often reduced to one label that doesn’t capture the full breadth of our life experience, goals, dreams, or aspirations.

So with this image, aptly titled Misunderstood, I wanted to say “F* you!” to perfectionism, seamless appearances, and single categories. I wanted to leave it as a reflection of how we women are often perceived too simply, when underneath there exists so much beautiful richness.

Are you a misunderstood woman? I’d love to hear your story in the comments below!

Click here to view the rest of the “Of Land & Sea” collection, five images that represent, what I believe, are universal aspects of women.

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