Art director Suzanne Heintz spent 14 years traveling with her mannequin “family” taking photographs to document it all.
I highly suggest checking out her online portfolio – it is very intriguing.
As I was scrolling through the pictures and reading the article from The “Real” World Flipboard, I couldn’t stop thinking: this is weird. Why would anyone ever want to do this? How lonely. I struggled to find the meaning behind this project until I read a reader’s response at the bottom of the page that said: “She’s underlining the fact that for many people, a family seems to be little better than a trophy or badge to prove that someone has succeeded at fulfilling society’s expectations of them.” How true is that? Many people seek to achieve society’s expectations or to at least portray themselves as having done so both online and in photographs.
There is this guy who used to date one of my girlfriends. I don’t think I’m being too harsh by saying that he was a complete jackass. When he drank, he drank, and got mean and ugly. Fortunately, she’s since moved on and is very happy. His life, however, now consists of posting at least four Facebook statuses or photos a day that express some variation of these sentiments:
“So happy to be alive! Upward and onward.”
“My life is great – so many reasons to celebrate.” Or
“Doing big things these days!”
I see him out in public frequently, and I hate to admit that I’ve never seen him smile. He’s not a happy-go-lucky guy whatsoever. It’s to the point you almost feel badly for him. So what’s up with that? Why such a discrepancy between his identity in person versus online? How can they be so different and which one is the real John Smith*? Do we portray ourselves how we want to be or how we think we should be? This goes back to the whole mannequin thing – do some people get married and have kids because they think it will make them happy or because society says they should?
My friend told me a story the other day that raised similar questions. Her brother is getting married and my friend is going to be in the wedding. She was recently with her mother and the bride-to-be, when her mother showed the bride the dress she was going to wear. The bride told her future mother-in-law (who is not in the wedding) if she didn’t wear a green dress to match the bridesmaids' dresses she couldn’t be in any of the wedding pictures. First of all, OMG Bridezilla! Why in the hell would your wedding pictures matter more than your soon-to-be mother-in-law being present, happy, and comfortable at your wedding? Really, in the grand scheme of things, how much will it matter if everyone matches in the photos? Weddings are crazy in general – isn’t the whole point to celebrate the union of two people who are in love? It’s as if people forget the whole meaning behind it, forget the basic values of love, family, and happiness, and try to throw a party to help create this façade of a picture perfect life.
Basically, the two take home points:
1) Not everything is how it seems on the surface.
2) Trying to meet society’s expectations if they are not what you want will make your life more devoid of joy than a woman living and traveling with mannequins for 14 years.
Photo Sources: firstcallmagazine.wordpress.com, wolpublic.com, http://suzanneheintz.prosite.com/7996/135487/gallery/life-once-removed