Women are expected to do things to their bodies for the sake of appearing feminine and nice that are actually contrary to the natural state of things. Advertising has made this so normal that we often don’t question it further.
This body of work was exhibited at the Festival of Quilts at the NEC in Birmingham, UK, August 2018 as part of a display named Button Box, with Unfold textile art group .
As long as you’re beautiful! (Dressing table cloth ‘quilt’. Assorted cloths and messages)
This collection of hand-embroidered vintage dressing table cloths explores the idea that a quilt in its most basic form is a collection different pieces of fabric that are pieced together to form a whole. By isolating individual words and phrases, taken directly from make-up advertisements from the 1950’s, the messages are ‘quilted’ together and the absurdity of the language is highlighted. I’ve also snuck in a few messages of my own, such as ‘rebel often!’
Ways to get your man… (Adverts on dressing table cloths)
These are exact copies of real adverts. I discovered several more with a similar theme. In each narrative the girl is offered a magic potion of sorts that will ensure her success in ‘getting her man’. Lipstick or soap solve the problem in these examples but it’s a small step to a magical elixir directly from a fairy tale. These narratives set the tone for expected behaviour as well as appearance.
Feminine Niceties (Nighties)
Vintage nighties or slips were selected because this is an item of clothing that is not actually necessary yet performs the purpose of perceivably making the woman become more visually appealing. I selected ‘normal’ changes that we make to our bodies: the removal of body hair; wearing underwear that impacts our shape (even the modern bra still does this); and dieting.