For the last 3 years, I have been training on the US Women’s national rowing team, with our eyes set on the 2012 Olympics in London. The ideal woman for this sport is 6’2, 175 lbs of lean testosterone rich muscle. Training side by side with such magnificent humans illuminates the difference between exceptional beauty and normative prettiness. Strangely enough, our society puts a lot of pressures on women to strive to be superficially pretty, while strong exceptional beauty can often be threatening. This tension leaves a huge space to tease out visually through art our experiences as non-normative strong women. Being exceptionally strong and beautiful does not necessarily have anything to do with one’s muscles. Mother Teresa, for instance, didn’t win any Olympic gold medals, yet no one can deny the fact that she is an icon of internal strength in love, compassion, and living a daring meaningful life. Still, throughout history, a woman’s identity has often been very wrapped up in her body; her image, whether that is in terms of fertility godess or “object of the gaze.” Regardless, as a strong beautiful woman of the 21st century I want to explore the visual space of women who are strong from the inside out, and are beautiful from the inside out.

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