top of page

Am I the Person I Want to Be?

This series of works (4 figures) includes insights from Feminist Futures, the book by Sarah Knelman. I applied the technique of double exposure to photographic images and created them. The series narrates the psychological and behavioral shifts in me over time due to gendered oppression, that is, a process of finally becoming a feminist and supporting firmly for female independence.

I was boyish in childhood, liked to wear cowboy clothes, and played with boys. At that time, I most admired Hua Mulan, a legendary heroine who joined the army by disguising herself as a man (Figure 1). However, society is sometimes unfair, and the different labels given to us will limit our growth. When I entered junior high school, my classmates called me a tomboy because I used to act like a boy. That did not affect me too much until an incident happened, which triggered my gradual transformation into a girlie girl.


We had to take one of the personal photos for display on the propaganda board of the school one time. However, after school, I saw my picture covering tiny, dense holes that prevented me from even making out the entire figure. At that time, I was very aggrieved, tore it off the board, held it in my hands, and cried for a long time. Unfortunately, no one cared about or comforted me, only gloating ridicule: "You are an erratic misogynist. What qualifications do you have to smile so happily in your picture? You deserve nothing but to make us laugh". All kinds of unpleasant voices almost drowned me out, and finally, I hid that photo and did not tell my teacher. I burned my boyish image in the fire of shame in my heart and changed myself from then on (Figure 2).

I finally grew up as a young lady, dressing girlishly, having long hair, loving plush toys, and trying to behave elegantly as a princess, as shown in Figure 3. Numerous hiding fingers are pointing at me around me, expressing their expectations. They can be strangers, peers, or even elders. Some of them are not so hostile. However, they all shackle me to a predetermined role as a woman. A gendered oppressor does not think it is unfavorable to push discrimination and oppression on a female and ask her to be humble, tolerant, meek, and sacrificial without reason, principle, and bottom line. Feminists are sad and angry deep down, but when they show it, they are blamed and attacked by those around them. People use negative cues like radical and hysterical to describe feminists to vilify women who are brave enough to express their emotions.

It was not until my first year at UBC, facing a foreign culture, that my mind opened up. I finally realized that I had been suffering from subservience to other people's expectations as I reflected on my past. I have become optimistic, not on the surface, but in my inner soul. Maintain a childlike innocence inside; do not care; do not demand the approval of others; do what I like (Figure 4). Although the future is still unpredictable, I desire to break through the standards set by a masculine society. As a female, I had a break with the cowardly self in the past and have a manifesto for the courageous self in the future: love myself before I want to love someone.

bottom of page