Annette is almost here and I just wanted to get all you new viewers more acquainted with her before she gets here!
Self identity is what determines your master status of your self. It is created over time as an individual is influenced consciously and subconsciously through daily social interactions. It is constructed and continuously modified over time by many factors of ones’ social life. The different parts to the growth, adaptation, and creation of one’s self identity that starts at a very young age and continues to develop and change as time goes on due to life chances.
Taking into consideration individuals’ social interactions within their social lives, we become a product of what we are surrounded with. Socializing in different environments such as, work, school, and personal life situations powerfully determines who you are. In most cases, people alter their persona from being truthfully represented for different reasons. In my case, I am aware of this social tool to fit it, however I choose to represent myself appropriate, but remain my truthful self in most all situations I have experienced.
I first became interested in the concept of the self when I became aware of this study. I had taken a class (similar to self and society) and fell in love with it. This was the time when I first objectified myself for self observation and examination. I have always enjoyed observing people at a distance and I have always love to chat up a conversation with someone that I don’t know so well to see if my perception on them was correct. I have always had a strong interest in helping various people to resolve their personal issues. I really enjoy being open and honest with someone about how I feel.
Looking back into my life I like to think about all of the various factors that have shaped my life and guided me into the direction and path that I have taken to date. Mainly, in the past year I have really tried to maintain control over creating my self to be who I really am and who I would really like to be. Examining my self identity has been very interesting. This is the case because I am able to learn so much about my self and to see how segregated I can feel at times.
Through my self observations, when I have opened up to people and really shown them my true self, they have either rejected it and become uncomfortable, or become just the opposite and really respond well and begin to become more open around me too. This has been a fun little experiment that I have been eagerly wanting to try out for quite some time.
However, at a younger age I was very receptive to what others thought of me and was always changing my self perception to fit in and belong. Now, I can honestly say that I have a different outlook on life and believe that if someone doesn’t like me for who I truly am then we are not meant to be friends and interact with one another.
As a child turns into a teen and then into an adult, social interactions lead individuals to chaning and altering their personalities. Cooley’s “Looking Glass theory” and Goffman’s theory of “Impression Management” are two major symbolic interactionist theories that illustrate how one’s self-identity is determined.
Cooley famously argues that construction of self identity is paralleled to a “looking-glass image of self.” A perception of a self is based on our perceptions of how others think of us, not only on who we think we really are.’ Goffman contends that the central goal of all social interactions is to manage ones impression in the eyes of other social actors. These two symbolic interactionist theories are very similar in the aspect that they both maintain that our self identities are formed largel by what their peers and society tells them to be. They form an opinion by what others think about them. By seeing others reactions they form their self. These two theories, however, are talking about different actions and parts to making up your identity.
Cooley’s theory of Looking-Glass Self consists of three stages of self-image construction: objectification, externalization, and internalization. “Objectification” is what we think of our selves, and attach ourselves to a figure of what we would potentially want to accomplish to become. Externalization and internalization is very similar to having a “public self” and a “private self.” Your public self (externalization) is how you exhibit yourself and what and how you want to be presented through your daily life interactions. As soon as we externalize, we receive feedback from our social peers, which might be intended or sub-conscious, and form that response into a critique of ones self. One then decides based off the response they change accordingly to “improve” their self. This “improvement” is just exactly how your “private self” operates; you change according to what your peers expect you to be or become.
Arguably, Goffman’s theory of “Impression management” is more related to the “public self.” This theory is the very core foundation of our daily society; and is easily comparable to being a social actor, constantly on the stage. One must be what is expected of them, yet although they are presenting their appearance “appropriately” the individual needs to be careful to hide their thoughts from interfering (expression given as apposed to given-off).
I had began my senior seminar project with an autobiography photo journal. I planned to capture an image of myself every day for one whole year, for 365 days. In my “365 Days” I looked to other self portrait artist for a guide and inspiration.
Figures like Cindy Sherman and Carolee Schnnemann have really pushed me to create this series that I am working on and really push the boundaries. These two artists worked with their selves as their main figures in their work. Schnnemann was a radical artist that used her body for a reaction from her audience, while Sherman, on the other hand, was known for her conceptual “untitled film stills” series, where she dressed as another character in her images to convey thoughts of stereotyping biased off perceptions of appearance. Her images dealt with all different kinds of issues of sexuality, abuse or violence, and domestic roles of women.
I had to be careful about how many boundaries I actual to push to far. To artists, the image I illustrate will most likely be understood and they will as well grasp the conceptual thought behind my images. Yet, to the common man/society similar ideas in my work might be hard to get. Public figures such as, Jean Kilbourne, might look at images that might resemble works like mine talk about exactly what I am trying to depict.
My goals in this daily dairy were to present ideas of self identity, sexuality, and “gender objectification” and facing the expectations of women in our society have been common themes throughout my work. Over time, my ideas shifted slightly, my work has got stronger, but ideas and concepts become harder and harder to depict, as the thoughts get more conceptual and deep in what I am trying to convey.
I struggled with facing the camera (although it may not seem so). My work moved fast into the direction of being more ambiguous, which I enjoyed. I took a liking to the ambiguity because it allows the viewer to interpret it in the way they wish too and it doesn’t force them into an uncomfortable position. People had admitted that when walking by my studio at school that they do not want to stop and look at my images because they feel uncomfortable like they are prying into my life. I love that this is some first reaction to my work! There is something so exciting about making the viewer feel something so powerful, as a feeling of embarrassment or uneasiness. I think that it is so exciting mostly, because I have some kind of power in my work to make them feel something, whether it is negative or positive, I’m pleased that it is creating some kind of reaction.
When I first started this project I relied very heavy on the fashion aspect in my work and was looking at different fashion photographers and their various style. While I have moved away from a more fashion photography line of work, I have still taken aspects that I have learned while working in that style of shooting and posing.
My work shifted away from this kind of work because this was not my original intention. As I started to separate myself from my work and look at it from a different perspective, I realized that I needed to head into a different direction to get my point across of the ideas that I was trying to convey. Although I love fashion photography, the message of women in today’s society and thoughts of sexuality were missing. However it is very interesting that fashion photography does hold some aspects of objectification and violence in it, I wanted my images to be more vulnerable and posses a quality of work that you wouldn’t necessarily see in or next to an advertisement.
Body language really plays a big role in my images, by representing an image and creating a feeling through my work, I relay heavily on the line and form, the attitude of my personality and body language is the ‘expression given-off’ in the image. By creating an atmosphere and fitting into it, I aim for a setting that will question the viewer and pose curiosity. It has been a little tricky that people that know me, and know that I am the subject in my work. It comes off a little conceded or pompous, which is tricky. I separated myself from my work and completely disassociated my character from what is known or expected of my “public self.” My “character” in my work now is more about the general women and is moving farther away from the truth of who I am. This alias figure I created is a tool to advocate these ideas and depict common issue that I personally have with how women are perceived in society, as objects, and abuse victims. My goal would be for people to realize by the end of my project that I am speaking for a larger group than myself.
Most people don’t understand why I went into this project. I first designed this project to allow my self to become less insecure with my body, to gain the confidence I needed, to have my camera with me more of the time, and by default I have increased my skills in photography by working extensively. The main issue I was focusing on was learning about my self and becoming more comfortable within my own body and my own self. This has really helped me grow in so many ways that I would have never expected. Since starting “365 days” I have discovered more of my truthful self and created and altered a self identity that I would have liked to convey, and actually has helped me live a happier more honest life.
Although my work is not a refection on myself anymore, and more about the typical women, I have learned how to separate these two aspects and channeled my private self to become more of my public self. Since starting this project, I have gone through many upheavals. I really believe that I couldn’t have got to this point of my life and discovery of my personality and self without going through this project and changes to my life in the last 6 or so months.
Before this project I was very reliant on what others thought of myself and so longed to fit in the images that I thought others developed for me. I felt as though I needed a significant other, because that was the “norm” and allowed that aspect of “belonging” and “belonging to someone” to define who I was and what a women in their early twenties should be doing.
It was expected that partners would continue dating, move in together, get engaged then married, and start building a family. I started to realize that this is not what I wanted. After coming to the realization that I was just following the grain, and not really making choices for me, I made a decision to go off on my own.
Not only did relationships change, but “new freeness” allowed me to talk and associate with others that I might not have while in a relationship. By branch out and talking with new members of my social network I was indeed receiving feedback about how they perceived me. However, in an effort to care so much about the negative, I began to study others’ reactions and found it interesting to see what people think. By being open with my personality, I can truly see who I am really compatible with, and if I’m not; I probably wouldn’t want to start a new relationship with them.
Since being more open, my work has opened up to. In the beginning of my project I was really lost, and didn’t really know who I was and what I wanted to achieve myself to be. By working through everyday, and spend time alone with myself, I was able to think more about myself, my goals, and who I really was. I was always one of those kinds of people that needed their alone time, but since having a block of time in my day designated for alone time, I need it more and more every day. When alone, I reflect different encounters of my day, and try to understand their motives for what they truly were. I feel as though this aspect of change has really influenced my life in a positive way, because I have more of a grasp for reality and what is truly going on in my life.
Overall, my experience with the 365 days of self-portraits project has been very therapeutic. I feel that my personality, my mind, my photography, my self have been substantially improved in the way that I can now see I am who I really am and what I wanted to achieve for my self. By studying different theories that help construct self identity, I think that I have had a better understanding on how to change and alter myself to be the way that I want it to be. Simultaneously, it has also helped me to understand why others are the way the are, and that you just have to accept them for who they truly are and not dismiss them because of their expression given.
thanks for reading ! I know this is super long, but I truly appreciate your interest in my work xoxox