Gender construction and identity seems to be one of the more prominent issues facing people of the 21st Century as we slide further into a more progressive period. The discourse of what is gender and its relation not only on a biological level but an emotional one as well is far larger than it ever has been. Sure, we have “progressed” and adapted through the upheaval of modernity but what was usually characterized as forward thinking is backward by our standards now. For women especially, this dialogue is much needed and a topic thoroughly mulled over.
Artist Allie Pohl’s interpretation of the female form beautifully encapsulates that sentiment. Her structured art titled “Ideal Woman” slyly resembles the anatomy of a Barbie with the purpose of purporting true feminine beauty all while subverting the popularity of fake aesthetics and looks. Without being obviously against the gender of woman, like some purist gender theorists have become, Pohl utilizes that construction and turns it on its head. Sure, girls DO like lipstick or wearing jewelry or looking pretty and not all are against these gender attributes. To value the female form and these characteristics doesn’t necessarily mean women accept some of the negative, oppressive, timid connotations of female and feminine. Pohl instead reclaims these passionately and fights against the commercialization of beauty. She is against the idea of perfection and what is deemed perfect. Is perfection the synthetic, plastic material she uses in her sculptures and necklaces? Manufacturing perfection is the problem, something that plagues both genders.
By highlighting the female body in a simplistic way, Pohl’s work can be easily relatable and reachable. It is neutral without trying hard to be so. It is what equality should be: effortless.
By: Sarah MacDonald