What holds us back? What are we expected to do? This is what I’m curious about. As a young woman, many actions are expected and forbidden. On a personal level, I sometimes feel trapped by expectations, be it in how I should dress, how I should behave, how I should reject people and ideas and handle rejection. Sometimes, this can be too much. Break/try was originally inspired by my grandmother. Before she passed away, she told me she broke off the heels of her shoes at her own wedding because she was sick of wearing them. I saw this as a groundbreaking action and it touched me for the rest of my life.
Heels: the shoes associated with utmost femininity. Having a stature of 5’10, I feel uncomfortable wearing heels, as I would be taller than most men and women with the added inches. This puts me in an interesting scenario: if I embrace the feminine side, I stand out as “too tall” yet if I don’t, I am not assimilated with all of the other women wearing heels. This parallels with the double bind of femininity versus masculinity. If I’m feminine, I’m weak and vapid. If I’m masculine and assertive, I’m a bitch and not in my place. For me and most girls, we’re stuck in the middle. Sometimes I feel stuck in this awkward middle at the beginning of my twenties. Unsure how to handle potential relationships, unsure how to maneuver my professional and academic decisions, and unsure of myself. I worry too much sometimes, and this makes me feel like I lose control, just like stumbling in heels. Break/try represents my struggle with fitting into certain boxes and following a certain schema of what I am supposed to be at this point in my life: figuring out my future.
Break/try was originally supposed to be a video of me dressing up as a pristine girl, walking down an elegant hallway and breaking the heels in one take. It did not turn out that way, and I’m honestly relieved. The mistakes reveal my true identity and the original idea made me feel like I was putting on a show. The stumbling is completely organic and shows how I can take awkward situations with a laugh and in a stride. The moments such as pushing away the bra strap demonstrate that even if women are feminine they must hide certain parts that are deemed “unlady like.” I capture the raw emotion of me trying to break the shoes, showing that grunts of frustrations are natural and show perseverance. Despite the failure of breaking the heels—-I walk away just fine: I am not bound to expectations myself and society deems I need to follow.
Selected for the Juried Undergraduate Video Show at the University of Iowa, 2014.