Don’t Tell Me to Smile, 2019

“Don’t Tell Me to Smile” and “Don’t Worry Be Happy”, 2019
Ruiz-Healy Art, San Antonio & NYC
Don’t Worry Be Happy and Don't Tell Me to Smile explored the social expectations placed on girls and how this pressure translates into womanhood.  Through photography and active recontextualization of objects, I confront the complexities of femininity and the objects and materials that define it.  In Girl Boss, I created the image of a woman with rhinestone barrettes in her hair that sparkle “girl” and “boss” with slip cast figurines.  I was seeing Instagram images and tv interviews with woman wearing barrettes with identifying and empowering labels like “boss”, “feminist”, and “money” but these words did not express how women still earn less than men, the wage gap still exists, and a lot of these issues are even more out of reach for women of color. 

One figurine is from a 1970’s hobby mold of an Asian girl with her stereotypical China bob haircut, rice pickers hat, a heavy yoke across her shoulders, a dragon embroidered on her jacket, and she stands barefoot.  Her body and identity are fetishized in her labor.  The blue and white figurine is a collectible produced most likely in Germany of a white woman wearing a kimono and should yoke with buckets.  Her labor is fetishized yet feminine and white washed.  We still have so much more to do to shatter the bamboo ceiling and climb even higher to break the glass ceiling.

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