What does it mean to be a woman? Does it mean blood on your panties, whistlings on the streets, perfect eyebrows, shaved vulvas, and pubic hair? Does it mean pink skirts or industrial boots, earrings, or tattoos? Being a woman means we have to decide between being a slut or a virgin? Being a woman means having to be tolerant? Means having to sacrifice, to stay low, to stay voiceless?
Maybe being a woman means waiting to be asked to dance, maybe it means being feminine or elegant. Perhaps being a woman is having high heels on your foot, your legs closed and mouth shut. Labels, labels, labels, at least they are not price-tags. And even though they are not, they seem to decide the value of women ́s actions and convictions. The truth is, a woman is whatever the hell she wants to be. The role and conceptions of what it means to be a female have been conceived many times by male characters, and by nature, it loses its validity. Men have their personal, valued opinion, but as women cannot talk about what it means to be a man; males can't approach what being a woman feels like. There lies the importance of the representation of women by women.
It's a matter of identity appropriation and speaking out from personal cosmovision and signature. It's sometimes forgotten that women validate themselves in each other, they grew up within their visions of womanhood through daughters and mothers. The family either wanted or unwanted, it's the seedbed for cultural paradigms and the teacher of social roleplaying. Girls today have the power and the responsibility of owning a voice, thanks to those badass women before them that fought against inequality and patriarchy. Women are intrinsically linked towards each other by a cord that knits itself not just in blood but in transparent justice. Representing women is not only a duty, but also a pride compromise towards the future generations, and a homage to the ones that dug the pathway where females stand today.
This woman by woman representation plays a crucial role in following those highways of equality and normalization. A great woman and Paraguayan photographer, Leonor de Blas, has explored this rich connection on her roots. She has been working on an authorial project about her mother and her intercontinental journey. More than an exploration of cultural backgrounds and decision making, it's an overview of what it means to be a mother and a daughter, as the first perceptions of being a woman. Blas has worked on various photography projects, but always manifests her own identity through independence, motherhood, history, and resistance.
The viewpoint of Blas's work turns into a manifestation of freedom and melancholy; representing herself and her surroundings. Representation means legacy, which means construction and collaboration. When a woman explores her own identity through the female roles that have co-created her life experience, it sets the basis for future discussions. It cretes conversations about the meaning of sorority, and the importance of a well designed and reinforced network of female role models, all willing to fight for each other's rights.