Playing Dress Up (2018-2019)  

October 15th, 2018: 

    This self-portrait series explores the interplay between identity and fashion. I’ve observed how my identity and representation of it have been influenced by my upbringing, clothing hand-me-downs, and the way I explore myself through public perception. Often, I’ll act differently depending on what I wear and in those moments, I’m never sure if it is the clothing or myself that is influencing these changes. Using the self-timer on my camera, strobe lights, and white walls to create a conceptual bedroom/closet, I will reenact and live in the headspace when I’m in my privacy, in my bedroom, trying on and taking off and trying on and taking off and trying on and taking off clothing.
    It means letting go of any bodily insecurities. Of enjoying the extension of self that hair, makeup, clothing, and really, the growth and fulfillment that being in touch with my body and appearance allows for. Playing dress up is private. It's acceptance. And it makes use of my deepest imaginations. Of course, fashion cannot replace reality, but it can supplement it. The most important thing is that it gives me a space of my own. To transcend how others perceive me and to make my own statements when I have no other platform or voice. To love my body and express that for the world to see. To be free. To be free.

    As a younger kid, I used to raid my older sister’s closet, trying on everything from her early 2000s party clothes to her formal work blazers and very-high high heels. I remember wearing my mother’s pink cashmere sweater when I was about 6 and smelling and holding the sweater as I waited for her to come home from work. I still cannot let go of that sweater. I remember the day I bought my very own pair of Levi’s jeans from the few dollars I made at my first job and the pride and confidence I felt wearing those pants. Fashion has always been a representation and symbol of growth, change and numerous emotions for me.

“Playing Dress Up: Self Portrait”

2018, digital photography

“Playing Dress Up: Oscar Parkey”

2019, digital photography

Copyright © Catherine Wang McMahon. All rights reserved.