Monster In A Dress Shop 6_BW



As a little girl, I never felt that ownership over my body. Everyone seemed to have comments, critiques, and rules. Somehow what they thought or did seemed to matter more than what I wanted for myself. Even as a teenager, I felt so distanced from my physical self. My body seemed beyond my control. As I grew older, I reclaimed ownership, but the rise of the Trump administration has brought back my feelings of disassociation. I fought so long to plant a flag in something that never should have been disputed territory. I want full ownership of my body and I want to love my body unconditionally. I do not want anyone wagging their finger and signing legislation that disputes my claim.


This flood of emotions inspired me to create “Monster in a Dress Shop,” a photo series excerpted for this short video. The photos are all self-portraits that I took on my rooftop in Brooklyn. I masked myself to allude to anonymity. In these portraits, the subject is not just me; she represents every woman in America (and, really, around the world) whose ownerships is at stake. In the portraits, I’m wearing black to reference funeral attire because everyday that women are disfranchised is another day of mourning. We are grieving for all of the moments that men assume authority over us and the status quo marches on. Note that I’m not just wearing black, but a very specific uniform of a black dress, pearls, and heels to touch on traditional ideas of femininity. It’s those ideas that imprison us—not that there is necessarily anything wrong with conforming to those notions. What is wrong is that these standards of femininity are imposed on us from such a young age, before most of us can even question what is happening. That is why I inserted a silver dress in the photo series. It blends in with the silver background, almost becoming invisible, just as I wish the patriarchy would disappear.





Christine Stoddard is a Salvadoran-Scottish-American writer and artist who lives in Brooklyn. Her visuals have appeared in the New York Transit Museum, the Ground Zero Hurricane Katrina Museum, the Poe Museum, the Queens Museum, the Condé Nast Building, George Washington University’s Gallery 102, and beyond. In 2014, Folio Magazine named her one of the top 20 media visionaries in their 20s for founding the culture magazine, Quail Bell. Stoddard also is the author of Hispanic & Latino Heritage in Virginia (The History Press), Ova (Dancing Girl Press), Chica/Mujer (Locofo Press), Lavinia Moves to New York (Underground Voices), The Eating Game (Scars Publications), and two miniature books from the Poems-For-All series.