Changing the Way We Look at Ourselves with @petrafcollins and #MyStory
This story is the first installment of #MyStory — a new series that spotlights inspiring women in the Instagram community. Check out O, The Oprah Magazine to see more of their stories unfold throughout the coming months, and join the conversation by sharing your own experiences with #MyStory. To see more empowering images from the artist, follow @petrafcollins.
“#MyStory is about creating images for women or female-identifying people that are hopefully more truthful and inclusive. I struggled a lot academically when I was a young girl. I was like, ‘Oh I’m not smart so I’ll need to rely on my looks.’ But, everything I was looking at in magazines was from one point of view. I wanted to capture my own life. I wanted to create an outlet and images that felt like ‘Oh, this happened. This is real.’ Creating nostalgia is a way to make a place in the world, to cement my story — or other girls’ stories — in the landscape.
The way I’ve gotten to where I am now is because of the Internet and these platforms like Instagram or Facebook or Tumblr, where people, specifically teenage girls, are able to create their own worlds and post their own work. We live in an image-based world. We’re all constantly bombarded by images, but a lot of them don’t reflect the normal person or girl. And I think the selfie is a really important tool for girls because they can create images of themselves that aren’t the manipulated ones that they see.
I don’t want to create some sort of greater version of me. I’ll post photos of my body or me with my acne. When there are images of your natural self out there for other people to see, you just feel more like a human — and other girls can see them and relate. It’s crazy … I get really mean responses, but it’s always really nice to hear people be like, ‘Oh, I have that right now. I can post a photo like you’re posting a photo.’ That’s the best feeling.”
Lusting after foreign lands Cobble stone streets Magical moonlit nights Craving an escape A never-ending search For paradise Always looking for Something just out of reach Something more Dreaming of a quaint corner To call my own To capture a pocket of serenity Between ready pages Breaking free of Routine And carving a new path Hand in hand With you
I captured my own dog doing this very same behaviour with a dried pig’s ear, a very important resource to her. I know she likes to save it for later and bury it in the garden so I closed all the doors to see what she’d do. Without anywhere logical to bury it (the dirt) she chose to bury it in the blankets instead.
The thing I find fascinating about this behaviour is how distinctive it is. From an observational point of view, It seems to follow a specific pattern with the dog pushing whatever they can find over their resource with their nose.
My project, “Our Unheard Stories of 9/11,″ was inspired by the short film, “My Dear Americans,” which is about an Indian-American husband and wife adjusting to immigrant life in an American suburb.
The format of my project is similar to that of the well-known Humans of New York blog, a photoblog that features street portraits and
interviews collected in New York City. Although I will also be doing a photoblog, I
am adding my own twist by capturing photographs of the Sikh Community in
California and featuring their own personal quotes and anecdotes. Through this
creative project, I plan to look into the diaspora of Sikhs, specifically those
from Punjab to the United States, and the struggles they have faced.
The Sikh community has
faced great “alienation from the hostland” (one of the key characteristics that
defines diasporas), specifically post 9/11. After 9/11, many innocent
Sikh Americans were attacked because people mistakenly related turbans with
terrorism. Unfortunately, this often led to incidents against Sikhs involving
discrimination, teasing, and harassment. The “Unheard Stories of 9/11” aims to
show the detrimental aftermath of these incidents and how it has affected and
continues to affect the Sikh community in America.